Beer and Cheese Recap: Nodding Head

Many thanks to Gordon and Curt from Nodding Head Brewery for bringing three outstanding beers to play with. Of course, they seem to find themselves here every Wednesday night, regardless of brewery, so the only real difference is that they now stood on the other side of the counter. Anyway, onto the pairings:

October Fest with Spring Brook Tarentaise:

October Fest with Spring Brook Tarentaise

Something about October Fest always makes us think of Alpine cheeses. The roasted notes and sweet maltiness always point us in the direction of the roasted hazelnuts that seem to define most cheeses in the Gruyere family, and tonight was no exception. While any of the options from France or Switzerland would have worked, we picked Tarentaise to celebrate it’s Third Place Best in Show at the American Cheese Society last week.

3C Extreme Ail with Lincolnshire Poacher:

3C Extreme Ail with Lincolnshire Poacher

The 3 Cees in the title refer to the three varieties of hops used: Chinook, Centennial and Cascade. And they certainly pack a punch. On first taste, we knew that we would have to pair it with a bold cheese or fear our half of the equation be overrun. On second taste, we identified flavors of grapefruit, apricot and peach, and the pairing became clear. Linclonshire Poacher, which is somewhat of a hybrid of Farmhouse Cheddar and Cave-Aged Gruyere, has been both sharp and fruity, specifically grapey, and had the fortitude to stand up to the 3C. What was surprising was the manner in which they cut each other down to size, allowing the fruitiness of both to shine through.

Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse with Bleu de Basque:

Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse with Bleu de Basque

This was a tricky pairing, and I have to give credit to Ian for thinking outside the box here. If there is one word to describe this beer, it is “tart.” Lip-crinkling, saliva-draining tartness. My first inclination was to pair it with a rich triple cream, something where the fat content could serve as a barrier between the beer and the palate. But the Berliner cut through it as if it weren’t there. After a few more failed attempts, Ian brought out the Bleu de Basque. An odd choice, but it worked. The pairing resembled the pairing of Sauvignon Blanc and fresh goat cheese, tart, but pleasantly so, and salty, but not in a deterring way. The overall sensation was freshness, perkiness, and theoretically could have been served as our first pairing, our intermezzo or the finale.