Ever since I got the keys to the proverbial car for the beer program at Westside Market East Village, I’ve been longing to bring in a real German—as in from Germany, not an American lager made with close fealty to the Reinheitsgebot—lager, something with a crisp lean flavor and distinctive overtones of celery, root vegetables and maybe toasted sweetbreads. In other words I wanted to bring in Mahr’s Ungespundet Hefetrub, the great Bamberg lager; it’s the sort of brew that demonstrates why Germany and beer are so closely and reverently linked. After many months of building toward it (big up to the beers of Weihenstphaner and Schneider-Weisse and yes, this is a big reason why it’s called a beer program), we got it this week. Mahr’s Ungespundet and just for good measure Mahr’s Mastodon. Of course, the first day it went into the case, it also went onto the sample board.
I would have sampled it no matter what the cheese people gave me to work with, but good fortune continued, I was given a massive piece of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, a cheddar with a bit of sweet and nutty flavor in its progression. In other words, I was pairing a beer that demonstrated what a lager should taste like with a cheddar that illustrated the lofty possibilities from what many consider a mundane cheese.
I wish I could have videotaped the responses. It was split 50/50 between “oh, so this is a lager,” (and a few people were more terse with an “f- man, that is good”) and on the cheese side “really, *this* is a cheddar?”
It was an ideal corrective in two ways.
The Mahr’s ran out before the cheddar did, so I finished it with Stillwater Existent and demonstrated to more than a few people that saisons come in dark varieties too without losing their supple texture.
The evening felt like a triumph, and since it was far too hot to cook, I rewarded myself with the best burger in the ‘hood.