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Brews and Blues Festival 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Although pairing cheese and wine is de rigueur, many of my friends (and myself) often prefer a bottle of beer to a glass of wine. Most of us have never considered pairing other beverages with our fromage. Does this mean that we, as connoisseurs of local handcrafted food, can’t enjoy wonderful Ohio cheeses with our Ohio beers? Hardly. Beer and cheese pairings are not only a hot topic, but a great way to take a slightly more casual approach and creative approach to our food. Recently I had the pleasure of sampling several Ohio beers and cheeses and I offer my thoughts on fresh, local matches made in heaven.

CBC’s Honey Wheat is a great choice with Lucky Penny Creamery Chevre. A truly easy-drinking ale, the slightly sweet taste of the Ohio honey is a perfect complement to the fresh tangy goat cheeses. The combination of these cheeses and beer reminds me of the Harvest – both beer and cheese are light and go down very smoothly. This is a great combination for entertaining friends.

Looking for something more adventurous, perhaps? Try a creamy Ohio chevre with Barrel House Brewing’s Cumberland Pale Ale. An American Pale Ale with plenty of bitter hops, I thought the strong taste of the beer would wash out the more delicate taste of the goat cheese. Instead, they make an interesting and pleasant contrast. The assertiveness of the beer helps to cleanse the palate of the thick and tangy goat cheese, and the creamy smooth cheese tames some of those bitter hoppy notes.

If you prefer a cheese that’s a little more aged, reach for Ohio’s Oakvale Gouda. It’s a little sweet and a little nutty. CBC’s 90 Schilling Ale, with its caramel sugars and rich toasty malt, echoes and magnifies those same flavor profiles. Plus, the beer is a beautiful amber color and looks gorgeous in the glass (always a plus). Another wonderful match with Fulton Creek Van Gouda is Great Lakes Brewing Dortmunder Gold. A golden lager that strikes a great balance between malt and hops, it’s more neutral taste really allows the gouda to shine while providing a tasty backdrop that stands its own ground. Now it’s your turn. It’s so much fun to do the tasting, once you start seeking out Ohio beers and cheeses, you may find yourself unable to stop. Enjoy!

The Cheeses:
Lucky Penny Creamery Chevre, Kent
Lake Erie Creamery Chevre, Cleveland
Oakvale Gouda, London
Fulton Creek Van Gouda, Richwood

The Beers:
Columbus Brewing Company, 90 Schilling Ale, Columbus
Columbus Brewing Company, Ohio Honey Wheat, Columbus
Barrel House Brewing Company, Cumberland Pale Ale, Cincinnati
Great Lakes Brewing Company, Dortmunder Gold, Cleveland