Beer and Cheese Pairings August 10-12

Crooked Stave Hop Savant

Our stock guy was out all week at Westside Market East Village, so that meant that my 55 year old body had to channel its more athletic 35 year old iteration and spend time lugging cases of beer from the basement. I was happy that I could do it especially since I’ve been so fragile physically for the last few years, and in the end, my manager and I got our stock section reorganized so that the Founders are all together, the Bells are altogether, the Evil Twins are all together (a fun concept), the ciders are altogether, etc. However, all this moderately heavy lifting left little time for circulating among the clientele with boards of craft beer and artisanal cheese.

There were two notable pairings. On Monday, the cheese counterperson enthusiastically gave me a several pieces of truffled cheeses to sample declaring them the best cheeses. He saw my less than thrilled expression and inquired. I rarely pout because of the language barrier and in truth truffled cheeses are very popular and since the clientele are in overdrive Monday rush hour, they are actually a good choice. But I wasn’t about to agree with the notion that they are the best cheeses. Most of them just taste fungal. The truffles have overwhelmed the cheese’s intrinsic flavor. It’s parallel to the way some bourbon barrel aged beers just taste like bourbon as if the hops never made it into the mix. My limited Spanish was going to keep us from having a deep conversation on the matter. Further, I did realize that these cheeses were not only a good choice for a high volume, high intensity traffic moment, but that they’d pair well with a beer brewed with Brettanomyces. So I chose the Crooked Stave Hop Savant and went to work. As it turned out the sweetly fungal flavors of the Pecorino di Moliterno didn’t totally overwhelm its buttery texture and this went nicely with the grassy, funky and tangy flavors from the Hop Savant. We sold a few pieces of the cheese (nearly a given) but we also moved three bottles of the beer, a surprise since Crooked Stave, though wonderful, ain’t cheap.

On Wednesday when I arrived at the cheese station, my colleague had a pleasant surprise. He had just cut a perfectly ripe wheel of Moses Sleeper, a yummy soft ripened cheese from Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont. The cheese was oozing beyond the rind as he handed me a piece. It was ideal: creamy texture, root vegetable, fungal and cauliflower overtones in full effect. I opted for a bottle of Stillwater Of Love and Regret, which I had just put on the shelf after it had been rescued from sitting under boxes of Miller Lite for a coupla weeks. Of Love and Regret is a saison brewed with lavender and chamomile. It’s floral overtones and aromas were a perfect match for the cheese and again several of each sold.

On Friday I stocked the case till 7:30. I took a breather to catch up on baseball blogs and read happy recaps as my team has won 14 of their last 16. When I came upstairs the beer aisle was crowded and I spent an additional 45 minutes chatting with customers and making recommendations. After all that talking about beer, I decided to skip doing rehab work at the gym and go straight to Milk and Hops and drink some. At that hour, it was an either or proposition and I chose correctly. When I got to the bar, I discovered that they are doing a Crooked Stave tap takeover tonight.

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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 thejoyofcheese.blogspot.com. 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 www.theroot.com. 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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