Pale and light, lager and pilsners are the easy drinks in the craft beer shelves. So when I asked what beer and cheese combo I could bring to my sister’s birthday I was pleased she asked for these. I live with an India pale ale freak, so I leapt at the the chance to pair with these lighter styles.
Fermented slowly at cool temperatures before bottling in a process called lagering, lagers and pilsners are smoother and lighter than the hoppy ales more common with current craft beer brewers. So I knew I had to try a different style of cheese for these brews.
Janet Fletcher in her book Cheese and Beer reckons that in pairings you’re either looking to juxtapose opposites with contrasts or conjure echoes with complementary flavours. With lagers and pilsners she recommends looking for creamy richness to contrast with their clean crispness, going for younger, lighter styles of cheese rather than aged, stronger blues or hard cheeses.
I opted for a triple cream bloomy rind and got a good chunk of Pierre Robert, a Brillat-Savarin-style cheese from Kirkcaldies cheese counter. Lush, smooth and decadent it was a perfect foil for the crisp and fruity Panhead Port Road Pilsner‘s clean effervescence. Creamy, velvet mouthfeel contrasting with the light bite of the Pilsner.
My second cheese was Pilota, (pronounced pee-LOW-tuh), a sheep and cows milk cheese from the Pyrenees. Dense and creamy, its rich nuttiness stood up to the softer, more honeyed flavours of Kereru‘s Maidstone Lager, a Viena-style with hints of malt and gentle hops.
Just to check, I tried both of these beers with a piece of Roquefort loitering in my fridge and was almost pleased to find that they did nothing for each other, the graininess of the cheese being enhanced, rather than its buttery smooth. Similarly the pilsner and lager disappeared, overwhelmed by salty sharpness. This classic blue did indeed call for a maltier brew. Another post in the making.
I think I might be getting the hang of this beer and cheese matching at last. Luckily there are loads more styles to try. Ah, my cheese friends, the life of a curd nerd is a hard one indeed!
My previous not so successful beer tasting is worth a read!