Last night we reached a bit beyond the “local” theme of our Happy Hour to Longmont, Colorado, home of Left Hand Brewing. Thanks to Dan for braving Flyer’s traffic to get down here and sample some high-quality libations. Here is what we did with them:
Sawtooth Ale with Trugole: This American-Style ESB is nutty, caramely with balanced, earthy hops. Light-bodied but complex in flavor, it could have paired with a vast number of cheeses, but Trugole stood out. Made in Veneto, Italy, it is strikingly similar to young Asiago, but with more grassiness and bite. The interplay between beer and cheese was fresh and vibrant, energetically perking up the taste buds for all that was to ensue.
Juju Ginger with Queso de Mano: Juju is very light in body but big in refreshment. As the name might suggest, it is all about the ginger, very crisp and just slightly spicy. We were just looking for an excuse to employ one of the fine cheeses from Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, Left Hand’s neighbor in Longmont Colorado. Queso de Mano (Cheese by Hand), is in the style of Manchego but made with rich, mountain goat milk instead of sheep milk. The notes of citrus and black pepper highlight played well with the ginger in the beer. Overall it was one of our more refreshing pairings.
400 Pound Monkey with Azores: Giving credit where credit is due, Matt, one of our rising stars, came up with this unorthodox but incredibly delicious pairings. Breaking from the tradition of hop monsters and Farmhouse Cheddars, we paired this beast of an ale with the floral, sweet and just faintly piquant Azores from Portugal. We had been aging a few wheels in our caves for nearly 6 months, and the had much more backbone last night than when they first arrived. Our minds blown, we might just have to reconsider everything we have ever set in stone about beer and cheese pairings.
Milk Stout with Verde Capra: One of the best examples of one of our favorite styles, this Stout won the 2006 and 2008 World Cup of Beer Gold Medals in the Sweet Stout category. The traditional pairing for a sweet, roasted beer like this is Stilton, but we through our guests a curve ball with Verde Capra, a goat milk Gorgonzola from Lombardy, Italy. Relatively young, the cheese gives definitive notes of fresh cream paired with the lactose in the beer to create a rich base. Atop this foundation played a complex mix of vegetation, grapefruit, mold and roasted malts. Like a double helix, these flavors were at one moment extreme and at the next in perfect sync. The finish, though, was warming and satisfying.
Join us Wednesday the 19th when Bill Covaleski of Victory joins us to share his craft.