Beer and Cheese May 22

Beer and Cheese Pairings May 22nd
The powers that be left me three cheeses to sample on Friday which made me chuckle.  The Friday late afternoon/early evening of a three day weekend is going to be slow.  In fact as I walked to work that afternoon, I could hear the usual din of Manhattan getting quieter.  It was as if some superhuman force had found the volume knob and was turning it down.  I chose two of the cheeses and told them that getting through two would be optimistic.
I was wrong.  Yes, the store was slow, but that gave the shoppers a freedom to stop converse and take an interest, and perhaps with the holiday relaxing them a bit was a factor too.  It was a very successful evening.  The first cheese on the board was Tramonto Rosso, an Italian cow’s milk cheese from Friuili that was rubbed in grape must from red wine production.  The cheese was earthy and balanced with a tinge of finishing flavor coming from the rub.  Fearing that a lack of traffic would force me to hawk the board longer than usual, I deliberately chose a very fizzy partner, Bittersweet Symphony, the Gaverhopke/Tired Hands collaborative Belgian Pale Ale, I needn’t have worried about traffic.  People swarmed the board and we wound up selling six bottles of the beer in the first five minutes I was on the floor.  The cheese intrigued customers but didn’t incite their passion.  I was delighted.  The Bittersweet Symphony is one of my favorite newish beers; it dials back the citrus and pine notes and delivers a cool minty flavor that goes wonderfully with the yeastiness of the brew.  These flavors complemented the subtle earthiness of the cheese nicely.
The second cheese also had a red wine connection.  Affineur Malo is a gruyere-ish cheese from Switzerland that has been washed in Pinot Noir as it ripens.  The result is an almost caramel nuttiness with a light grape-y finish.  I chose another Gaverhopke, the Extra, their malty Quadruple with distinct overtones of vanilla and molasses.  I figured that sweet finish and the nuttiness of the cheese would bond.  The Extra is also upwards of 12% ABV, which seemed to abet the holiday spirit.  This time people were blown away by the cheese, though we sold a couple of bottles of beer too.
Overall I was very happy.  The Gaverhopke isn’t cheap; we sell it at $6.99 for a 12 oz bottle, but I’ve been arguing that if you get twice to three times the pleasure from that bottle that you would from a bottle at a  $2.99/3.99 price point, then it’s a good buy.  I’ve been making a parallel argument in cheese for years, and I’m pleased to see it take hold in beer.  It’s an argument unique to my setting, though.  Manhattan denizens are typically paying between two and three thousand dollars a month to live in shoebox sized apartments.  To make it worthwhile, they–er, we–have to maximize our pleasures in other ways.bittersweet symphony


About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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