On a recent visit to Formaggio Kitchen South End, I asked the cheesemonger to suggest a beer or ale that would go with the piece of West West Blue Cheese from Parish Hill Creamery in Vermont we were buying.
I had just sampled the cheese as he described the flavor profiles of a range of craft beers he recommended pairing with this richly flavored blue. Then he said he had recently tasted Brooklyn Brewery's K is for Kriek with another big blue and was very happy with the match.
Since the Formaggio staff has done a great job of matching beverages with cheese for us in the past and intrigued by the description, I added a bottle to my basket. Later that evening, Ed (the beer drinker in the house) applauded the choice.
West West Blue From Parish Hill Creamery
This cheese comes from a very interesting Vermont Creamery. We love their tagline, “Seasonal, hand made, raw milk cheeses inspired by traditional DOP Italian cheeses.”
About the West West Blue, they say:
"Traditional aged, two-curd Gorgonzola, West West Blue is made with whole, raw milk from Elm Lea Farm and aged 90 - 180 days. The edible rind surrounds an interior with openings filled with streaks of blue mold, a creamy texture and a spicy, earthy flavor."
We both loved the rich, deep, almost caramel flavor notes and the spicy, sharp, taste bud, wake-up snap of the blue veining. It was also very good with both the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco I was drinking and the Sardinian Parchment crackers we served with it that evening.
As for the double "west" in the name, the creamery is located in the town of Westminster West, Vermont.
Brooklyn Brewery K is for Kriek
There is a lot going on in this bottle of ale!
Brooklyn Brewery says:
"To this beer’s subtle marriage of malts, dark candi sugar, local wildflower honey and zing of orange peel, we added tart dried whole Montmorency cherries from Michigan. Around this, we wrapped a barrel of charred American bourbon oak. The sugar of the cherries began to ferment away. The barrels hissed. And we waited.
Six months later, the beer emerged with a glowing red color, vibrant acidity, complex fruit aromatics, and a foundation of oak flavors, its strength moving past 10%. Its transformation almost complete, the beer joined priming sugar, Champagne yeast and wild Brettanomyces yeasts in the bottle and underwent a third fermentation. And we waited yet again."
Now, after a year of waiting, beer lovers have the opportunity to share a bottle with friends. And, we do suggest sharing, since this big 25.4 ounce bottle contains a 10.1% alcohol by volume brew.
So the next time you buy a great cheese from a great cheese shop like Formaggio, remember that the wines and beers on their shelves were picked to match the food they sell. They are in the business of paying attention to nuances of flavor and will be happy to help you match a beverage with a particular cheese or other foods you've purchased.
What's on your Cheese shopping list? Here are some great books about cheese. These make wonderful gifts for a cheese lover. And, when you shop Amazon from here, they put some coins in our tip jar.
Words: Penny Cherubino
Photography: © 2015 Penny & Ed Cherubino