Eight years ago or so, when I did my first cheese and beer class I paired all of the goat’s milk cheeses with wheat beers. What I did Friday night illustrated how much more I know about cheese and especially about beer.
The cheese people gave me several small pieces of Tomme de Bordeaux to sample. It’s a firm French goat’s milk cheese that is rubbed in herbs as it ripens and has a crust of herbs and juniper berries. It’s from the aging caves of the French affineur, a master of aging cheese, Jean D’Alos. I was thrilled; it’s one of the best cheeses in the case at Westside Market, East Village, and I now know that it would pair with several different beers.
We led off by pairing the cheese with Good Juju, a light ale from Left Hand Brewing that infuses the beer with ginger. The peppery spice of the ginger contrasted nicely with the smooth herbal effect of the cheese. Next up was Debutante, the Stillwater/Brewer’s Art Bierre De Garde which is brewed with hyssop, heather, and honeysuckle. The floral sweetness in the finish of the beer was a good match for the texture of the cheese. Finally, we finished with Ryan and the Beaster Bunny from Evil Twin; it’s a saison that I think is brewed with honey and it has a nice grapefruit overtone in the finish.
I figured I’d spend a good bit of time discussing affineurs and the difference they make in a cheese’s flavor, but the beers stole the show. Also, usually on a slow Friday afternoon, I’m lucky to make it through one bottle. This Friday we sampled three. Looking back, I see similarities between the beers. I think if there’s more Tomme de Bordeaux to sample on Sunday (and there might be the herbs mold quickly), then I’ll put with a Brett IPA or something a tad more ambitious.