Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Not Wine, But...

         A short time ago, there was a ten-day Craft Beer Festival in Madison, Wisconsin. I, LC, and my favorite Wisconsinite, JA, decided to attend a few of the special events to see what we could learn and to have a little fun.
         Our first event was a Friday night fish fry, a Midwest tradition. We did a
tasting of four ales and beers from a local brewery Ale Asylum.  One of their beers, Hopalicious, is one of my favorites and MK's, as well.  If you're ever in Madison, give their beers a try.
         The next event, a beer and Wisconsin cheese tasting, was held at our favorite Madison cheese shop called Fromagination, named one of the country's Outstanding Retails of 2011. They ship, by the way, so you might want to check them out; they have 400 products, 60 of them cheese from Wisconsin, and their packaging is fun. 
         There were about twenty of us tasters there, along with a cheese expert from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and a representative from Goose Island Beer Company, from Chicago.  (Although most Goose Island beer is sold in Illinois, 24 other states carry it as well.)
         We had five beers and five cheeses, accompanied by a plate of assorted crackers, spiced almonds, and dried cranberries.  As in other tastings, we were asked to sip our beer first, then taste the cheese, then taste them together to see any differences.
         Here are the five pairings we had:
~312 Urban Wheat--hoppy, fruity--with Hollands Family Marieke Gouda
~Matilda-- Belgian-style pale ale with a "funky, barnyard" taste-- with award winning nutty Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve made from raw milk, and only when cows are grazing.
~Honker's Ale--British style, brown and malty-- with Hook's 5 Year Cheddar, an "orange block-formed cheddar... dense and crumbly"
~Pepe Nero--a "saison" season beer, light bodied, given in the past to harvest workers as part of their pay-- with Sartori Bellavitano Espresso cheese.   Our favorite pairing.
~Pere Jacques-- Abbey style beer, sweeter, higher in malt-- with Roelli Dunbarton Blue.  A nice contrast of tastes.

         JA and I had a wonderful evening, learning about some new beer, cheese, and pairings.  And you know, I am learning to like beer.  It's a whole other world of colors, flavors, terminology and food-pairing possibilities.

P.S. For a handy little guide on cheese and beer and wine pairings, check out Wisconsin Cheese under "pairings". 


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