Sunday was a fun day to pair beer and cheese at Westside Market East Village. For one, customer traffic was busy enough to sustain tastings all shift (it really sucks to pause with a beer half way done because it’s slowed to a crawl and find that the beer has gone flat when traffic picks up). For another the cheese people gave me two alpines, a versatile Italian cheese, and a soft ripened goat cheese to work with—all good pairing partners. Finally, the beer geeks were in the house and buying. On my first pass through the beer aisle I saw big holes in the Crooked Stave, Maine Beer Company and Evil Twin segments of the case and they just got deeper as the day wore on.
I started with one of the alpines, Affineur Walo, it’s like Gruyere but older, sweeter and earthier while retaining a solid backbone of nuttiness albeit roasted almonds rather fresh ones. I used that nutty flavor to justify pairing it with the Evil Twin Femme Fatale Kobosu, an India Pale Ale, brewed with wild yeast and Japanese citrus fruit. Yes, to quote an old Cornershop song, it was funkee with the double e at the end; the beer started grassy the segued in fairly distinct order into a burst of tropical fruit flavors, some bready notes and a strong lemony finish. I think it’s bliss in a bottle and the clientele thought so too; six of the seven bottles on the shelf sold.
When the Affineur Walo ran out, we continued with the Affineur Walo Starnachas, a younger version of the same cheese with a creamier texture, and more of a fresh almond flavor. It went well with the rest of the Evil Twin, and it’s nutty notes paired well with the Mahr’s Ungespundet Hefetrub, a fanastic Bamberg Lager. I’ve really enjoyed watching people hear the word lager then respond to the distinctive vegetal notes and crisp delivery in the Mahr’s. No, Toto we’re not in Stella Artois anymore.
The cheese finished before the beer but I had a small piece of Tramonto Rosso, a northern Italian cow’s milk cheese rubbed with must from red wine production. I’d love to say that it’s rubbed in the must from Barolo production just to keep that ridiculously delicious wine in mind, but that might make the cheese a disappointment. Also I’d be lying. I have no idea what must its rubbed in, could be Sangiovese or even Dolcetto; I’m not one to look down on Italian red wines in general. The must gave the cheese a nice grape-y finish and that sweetness paired well with the savory overtones of the Mahr’s.
I finished with something called Triple Cream Goat Brie. It didn’t have the look or texture of a triple cream, but after walking around hawking cheese and beer for five and half hours, I wasn’t in a mood to quibble. It was gooey and runny and seductive—really what else mattered? I paired it with the Hof Ten Dormaal Blonde, a Belgian farmhouse ale, which is bright, yeasty and just slightly bitter in the finish. The herbal overtones of the cheese paired nicely with the beer.
After that I punched out and found myself some beer that I didn’t have to talk about.