Say Cheese Say Cheese Spring 2010 : Page 19

It’s an idyllic and oft-seen image: a glass of wine next to a platter of cheese. But that’s exactly the kind of cheese-pairing cliché that Zach Pace likes to avoid. As wine director of San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema restaurant, Pace is, by definition, a wine guy. Yet he often takes customers by surprise by foregoing wine all together, recommending instead a beer with a cheese plate. “They’re incredulous at first—it takes a little cajoling to get them used to the idea,” he says. “But when you get the match right, it’s really, really satisfying.” It’s not that explanation for the pairing success may come down to ingredients. Both beer and cheese are derived fromgrass-based products: beer fromeither wheat or barley malt—which are both grasses—and cheese fromthe milk of grass-fed livestock. Another theory comes down to origin. Just as wine and cheese evolved together in France, the crafts of brewing beer and the mouth, then you taste a piece of cheese, and the flavor changes,” she says. “The carbonation really opens up the palate.” Match Making Pairing beer with cheese isn’t high science. Well Paired Beer Pilsner Wheat Beer IPA enjoying beer with cheese is a new idea. (Just ask anyone who likes their cheese dip with a cold lager.) What’s changing is the new level of seriousness being applied to beer-and- cheese pairings. As more hand-crafted brews emerge onto the market, serious foodies—even wine fans— are finding that these diverse beers can be perfect matches for artisanal cheeses. In fact, Pace concedes, they often outperform wine in the tasting arena. Brown Ale Trappist Ale Matchpoint: Classic Inspiration France Key consideration grape variety Traditional recipe Fondue Natural Advantage “With beer and cheese in general, it’s hard to find a pairing that doesn’t work,” says Brewmaster DaveMcLean, who owns Magnolia Pub & Brewery in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. McLean suggests that a possible Characteristics Light-bodied, clean Cheese Strong and subtly sweet Wine v. Beer Belgium, England, Germany Knockout match triple crème + Champagne triple crème + stout Good to avoid blue cheese + Champagne blue cheese + IPA grain variety Welsh rarebit Semi-firm sheep/cow’s milk Notes of clove and coriander Soft-ripened varieties Bitter with hints of citrus Malty and darker Farmhouse Cheddar Stilton “Stinky” washed-rinds “The same beer will go with a lot of different cheeses,” says McLean. It’s that kind of assured success that makes it easy to get excited bout beer and cheese pairings. At City Beer Store, the San Francisco shop thatWathen runs with her husband, Craig, customers can sample cheeses paired with whatever happens to e on tap. Some beers Porter and Stout Rich, with hints of chocolate Chèvres and triple crèmes re more cheese- riendly than others. or an all-purpose airing brew, Wathen likes wheat eers, which tend to have mild notes of coriander, orange, nd white pepper. This is the type of eer that doesn’t wrestle for control,” she says. Another beer style worth making cheese grew up side by side in Germany, England, and Belgium. So it’s no surprise that a pint of English ale happens to pair so well with a wedge of Cheddar, a dab of chutney and some crusty bread in a classic British ploughman’s lunch. Beer has other natural advantages, too. Compared with most wines, beer has—to steal a wine-tasting phrase—better mouth feel, explains Bay Area beer expert Beth Wathen. “You have a sip of beer and it coats exploring is stout, which can be great with rich triple crème cheeses and tangy blues. But not all beers are as flexible,Wathen warns. She’s stumbled a bit with pairing cheese to one of her favorite styles of beer—hoppy and sometimes bitter India Pale Ale (IPA). Choosing Cheeses When looking for beer-friendly cheeses, tangy and sharp varieties such as farmhouse Cheddars rate high on the list. AtWexler’s, 2010 Spring 19

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