The More We Get Together

August 6, 2012

I haven’t posted in ages. But, don’t worry, I won’t tire you with the poor-me-I-just-had-a-baby and I-hardly-have-time-to-drink-wine-any-more blather. (Even though that’s the truth.)

Baby Crying

credit: bilinick.blogspot.ca

Allow me to celebrate my comeback with a post about beer. Actually, it’s a re-post. I initially wrote this for cheese-wizard Sue Riedl’s blog Cheese and Toast – whom I had the good fortune to meet last June at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival. Sue had tweeted an article on English beer & cheese pairings last month and I responded by suggesting we do a Canadian version. She agreed so I asked friend and beer wizard Craig Pinhey if he’d pick a few of his favourite Canadian brewskies, and I’d select cheeses to match and write it all up! Ta da!

What Grows Together, Goes Together

Canada makes phenomenal beer and cheese. But rarely do we think of pairing them together. “What grows together goes together” is a fundamental food pairing principle: by combining food and drink from the same region there are automatic similarities in aroma and flavour which set the foundation for a harmonious pairing.

Here we pick six of our favourite Canadian beers and pair them with an outstanding cheese from the same province. Try them yourself. You may never reach for potato chips and pizza with your brewski again.

1. Creemore Springs Premium Lager & Comfort Cream – Ontario

The combination of vibrant carbonation and sweet biscuit-like malt in this Lager make it an ideal partner for a rich, bloomy-rind, Camembert-style cheese.

comfort cream cheese

Comfort Cream (credit: Upper Canada Cheese Co.)

Comfort Cream from Upper Canada Cheese Co. is an oozy, velvety, buttery cheese that loves the mouth-cleansing action of sudsy bubbles with just enough tartness to cut through the fat – enter, Creemore Springs Premium Lager. Because it’s not overly bitter, the beer doesn’t trump the cheese and accentuate unwanted undertones. True to Camembert form, the cheese offers classic mushroomy, earthy flavours which are right in step with the marked floral notes in this beer.

creemore springs

credit: ramblingsofarunningadict

2. Blanche de Chambly & Grey Owl – Quebec
Wheat beer often goes well with goat cheese, but the pairing gets more interesting when good character is present in both.

grey owl

Grey Owl (credit: Jacobsons)

Grey Owl, from Fromagerie Le Détour, has a mild, chalky, paste that is complex enough to hold its own, but doesn’t try to compete with the delicate spice of this white ale. The pairing really comes together on tangy, citrus notes  with Blanche de Chambly’s orange and lemon tartness echoing the citrussy acidity of the cheese. Grey Owl’s ash-rind might be a tad too vegetal/green for this match if it weren’t for a prevailing coriander note in the ale that pulls it all together. Not your typical Wheat Beer/Goat cheeses pairing, to be sure!

Blanche de Chambly

credit: The Beer Store

3. Propeller Pale Ale & Ran-Cher Acres Chèvre – Nova Scotia
This mellow, balanced pale ale requires a younger, tamer cheese – but not so tame that the cheese disappears.

Chevre

Chevre (credit: formaggiokitchen)

Moderate hoppy flavours are a good mate for tartness in a cheese – which this fresh goat’s milk cheese has plenty of. The chèvre is also fruity, picking up on similar elements in the beer (pear), and is delectably creamy, not sour. Ultra creamy cheeses like the Ran-Cher Acres Chèvre cry out for a crisp, cleansing, companion like the Propeller Pale Ale. A match made in Maritime heaven.

Propeller Pale Ale

(credit: Propeller)

4. Iron Horse Brown Ale & Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar – PEI
The dark chocolate and roasted nut notes in this brew fuse perfectly with the creamy, rich, toffee flavours of this aged cheddar from Cow’s Creamery.

avonlea clothbound cheddar

credit: dobbernationloves

The beer completely winds itself around this cheese and does not let go. (Think: Caramilk bar… but better!) There is also a rustic, bitter edge to the Iron Horse which mimics the earthiness of the Clothbound – especially toward the rind – and provides a savoury/sweet contrast that is pretty unbeatable.

Iron Horse Brown Ale

credit: peibrewingcompany

5. Red Racer IPA & Alpindon – BC
Fashioned after the Beaufort d’Alpage, Kootenay Alpine’s Alpindon is intense and complex – precisely what this racy IPA craves in a mate.

alpindon

credit: Kootenay Alpine Cheese Co.

The Red Racer is a bit of a hop monster and so requires a cheese that is just as shouty. Part of the cheese’s pungency comes from its dark textured rind that has a lovely burnt, woodsy taste which highlights the brawny bitterness of the IPA. Tiny crystals nestled in the Alpindon’s paste add an exciting crunch and their buttery, herbaceous flavour sings against the beer’s caramel maltiness and florality.

Red Racer IPA

credit: Red Racer Beer

6. Pump House Blueberry Ale & Marti – New Brunswick
The dominant element in both the Blueberry Ale and this Sheep’s milk cheese is a mild sweetness. Marti, made by Bergerie aux Quatre Vents, is a delicate fruity cheese with vanilla notes that couple brilliantly with the berry and malt characteristics of this fruit beer. The cheese’s rind is tender and without harsh flavours that might disrupt the softness of the Pump House. There is a subtle saltiness to the cheese which is nicely contrasted by sweet fruit and peppery notes in the ale. Both the beer and cheese are more or less equal in terms of flavour intensity – an important element to consider, even when similar flavours appear in both.

Pumphouse Blueberry

credit: LCBO