Sunday, September 09, 2007

Beer, Cheese, & Divine Reserve #5

On many Saturday's you will find my fiance, my friends and me at an afternoon wine tasting at the Tasting Room cafe. They usually do a good job of having 4 or 5 wines along with some interesting food pairings from their menu. Well this weekend was a little different, sure I was at the tasting room, but this time it was for the beer and not the wine. Tasting Room hosted their first Beer and Cheese tasting. I know that this will be hard for many wine lovers to believe, but beer actually pairs better with cheese, actually MUCH better, so this was something I was extremely excited about. To be clear, this wasn't any beer and cheese pairing....this was Saint Arnold's beer paired with Texas Cheeses, courtesy of the Houston Dairy Maids. The Houston Dairymaids are two young lady's that have traveled all over Texas to find cheeses grown in sustainable and organic methods. They distribute and sell these cheeses to local restaurants and farmer's markets. Now one to the pairings.
The first was pairing one cheese, a creamy hand rolled goats milk cheese with Texas Wheat and Elisa IPA. This tasting was used to show how two different beers bring out two different flavors in the cheese. The wheat really brought out the creaminess and tangyness of the goat cheese while the IPA brought out the earthy and nutty flavors. I preferred the wheat, while my fiance liked the IPA.
The second pairing was a Paragon cheese from the Velduizen family, a raw milk cheese, semi soft with a rich yellow color, paired with Lawnmower. This was probably my favorite pairing of the night as the Lawnmower really brought out the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheese.
Next up was the Brown ale paired with a fresh goat's cheese wrapped in Hoja Santa leaves. This gave the cheese a mild minty flavor, that I personally didn't care for and the match with the sweet maltiness of the Brown was a dud.
The Fifth pairing was Amber with a Queso Blanco with Chiles and Epazote. Epazote is an herb similar to oregano. The flavor combination of the queso blanco and the Amber created something completely unexpected that I can only compare to oven baked pizza dough topped with fresh mozzarella, very nice.
Then came the Oktoberfest paired with Deep Ellum Blue, a mild blue cheese from Dallas, TX. The sweet maltiness of the Oktoberfest blended seamlessly with the creamy tangyness of the blue cheese.
Last, was the treat of the day, Divine Reserve 5, a Russian Imperial Stout paired with a Texas Gold Cheddar. Now the Divine Reserve 5 isn't being released until the 11th, so having the opportunity to try it early was a treat. This is an amazing beer at 10%, opaque with a huge dark chocolate head. Chocolate, espresso and a bit of hops on the nose. The mouth is full of chocolate covered espresso beans a bit of burnt coffee, and just a hint of alcohol on the finish. Incredibly smooth and I sure didn't feel the 10%. Very nice and of all the Divine Reserves this is my favorite. The pairing with the cheese was just as incredible. You start with this nice sharpness of the cheddar and nuttiness. However when paired with this incredibly complex beer there is an underlying sweetness that comes out in both the beer and cheese melding the two together.

As you can see this was a pretty fun afternoon at the Tasting room. I also got to purchase a six pack of the soon to be released Divine Reserve another special treat!
Thanks to TTR, Brock and the Saint Arnold's Crew, and of course the Houston Dairymaids for putting on such a wonderful event, I hope they are able to put together another one.

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