Beer and Cheese Recap: Iron Hill Brewery

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How fortunate are we? Iron Hill, winner of Best Large Brewpub at the World Beer Cup in Chicago last week, joined us last night to sample some of the beers that helped them claim the award. Two rather unconventional pairings were featured, but everything worked, and as usual, a good time was had by all.

German Pilsener with Taleggio: Thanks to certain companies that have the finances to advertise during the Super Bowl, many of us associate “Pilsner” with beer-flavored water. This craft version, filtered less than 5 hours before the tasting, is a true example of the style. Earthy and crisp with good hops, it had just enough spice that a rich, dense cheese was needed for balance. While Taleggio is always tasty, our current batch is as prime as ever. Oozing, pudgy, sweet and pungent, it proved to be the perfect bed in which the Pilsener could nestle.

Oatmeal Stout with Ogleshield: We have found that Stouts have two terrific, near fail-safe pairings. Goudas, with their sweet, butterscotch notes, always play well with the malts in Stouts. And most blue cheeses, with their pronounced saltiness, can elevate the sweetness in Stouts, creating exemplary dessert pairings. But tonight, we opted to play against the roasted coffee and oatmeal so prevalent in this beer. Ogleshield is a staff favorite filled with sentimental value. We were the first store in the United States to stock it, and continue to be one of a small handful of retailers that offers it continually. The British response to Raclette and Fontina, it is just slightly potent with grassy aromas and the distinct flavor of roasted peanuts. It brought out unexpected qualities in the Stout, and the result was more warming and hearty than sweet and dessert-worthy.

Belgian Triple with Tumin Rutulin: Our regulars know that goat cheeses are a great way to start a pairing. Their tart, citrusy tones awaken our palates and leave us salivating for more. But tonight, we concluded with this unorthodox-yet-convincing pairing of two seemingly incompatible components. At 8.5%, the Triple is much stronger than your typical goat cheese pairing, but it was abundant in apples and pears and, most importantly, yeast. This bread-like quality always screams for fresh cheese, but we could not pick some mild-mannered chevre for fear that it would be overrun. Hello, Rutulin. While its tang will assure any taster that it is indeed a goat cheese, Rutulin acquires depth and complexion through an extended maturation and a roll in Herbs de Provence. There was concern that putting these two on the same palate would result in a bitter, alkaline clash, but instead, they embraced and bonded. The interplay between apples, pears, lemons, breads and herbs was delightful, and proof that exploring new paths can sometimes be delicious!

Next week we will be hosting Angela from Lancaster Brewing Company. Please stop by and see what she has to offer.