You Spilled Beer on My Cheese

It’s like we always say: beer and cheese were just meant to be. There’s nothing like pouring a frosty pint of beer to go along with your cheese plate. But what about enjoying beer with your cheese another way? It’s actually not as groundbreaking as you’d think! Actually, beer and cheese have gone together for centuries, and people have been washing cheese in beer for all that time.

We have to, first things first, thank the Trappist Monks who believed you should live by the work of your hands. So, obviously, they started brewing beer. Like the smart guys they were, they realized that not only was this a tasty drink, but it could add a little something extra to the cheeses they’d been aging to feed their fellow monks. The story goes that they accidentally spilled some beer into their brine during a hard shift, but we like to think of them as the first generation of food scientists – experimenting until something fruity and funky came out.

So why are beer washed rind cheeses just oh so much better? Well it’s because the B. linens (that’s the stinky orange mold that kind of smells like feet but tastes super meaty) help remove the the acidic notes of the beer, leaving behind fruity or nutty notes that we all love. The resulting cheeses end up beefy and complex, with a distinct funkiness that permeates from the outside in. As it so happens, this tradition is one of our favorites – we love the stinkers that pair so great with a handful of nuts and beer. Here’s some of our boozy favorites:

The Other Stephen

These little guys start out as mild mannered triple creams (known as St. Stephen from Four Fat Fowl), but he definitely isn’t as much a saint after he’s washed in a bath of Short, Dark & Handsome Stout from Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn. Suddenly he’s less of a saint and more of a devil – a bit rowdy around the rind that imparts deep flavors of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate (we’re talking that 70+% cacao stuff). But with that creamy paste, it all comes together to make a dreamy little wheel of cheese.

Good Thunder

Created by a finance guy turned cheesemaker, we think Keith Adams was thinking about happy hour when he crafted Good Thunder. Based on classic recipes – we’re talking  monk washed cheeses like Pont l’Eveque and Reblochon – our boy Keith washes this creamy cheese in a local Minnesota craft beer known as Surly Bender. It’s a great name, and it helps make a great cheese with notes of funkiness, porkiness, and smooth cream flavor. The epitome of a work hard, play hard cheese.

Greensward

A Murray’s exclusive that we’ve made extra boozy. This Vacherin Mont d’Or-inspired cheese is washed in an experimental brew of Virtue Cider, which helps create a big and bacony flavor without a hint of bitterness. Honestly, it’s so luscious and creamy that you could use it as a miniature fondue. Foresty and meaty, this is a unique spin on a classic inspired cheese. Very New York, by way of Vermont and the Alps.

Drafting Our Favorite Drafts

Folks have only been brewing beer and noshing on cheese for oh, several thousand years or so, and we’re not about to argue with millennia of delicious history. Sometimes flavors just work together, and bready, refreshing beer has always been delicious with cheese – after all, there are as many different beers in the world as there are cheeses. We’ve asked some of favorite beer-loving cheesemongers just what cheeses and beers are a match made in heaven.

But what makes a perfect pairing? Actually, there’s some simple rules when it comes to figuring out what pairs with what. We at Murray’s follow three simple rules:

  1. Same pairs with same! Meaning that if it shares similar flavors, it pairs well together. You have a nutty cheese? It’s going to pair well with a nutty, toasty beer!
  2. Opposites attract! If you have something savory and creamy, why not put it with something bold and sweet? Sometimes flavors that are on the opposite side of the spectrum make the best combos.
  3. If it grows together, it goes together! This is the classic understanding of ‘terroir’, or taste of place. If two items are grown in similar areas, they’ll often share complementary flavors.

With these pairing types in mind, let’s check out some of our favorite beers with Murray’s best cheeses!

St. StephenReissdorf Kolsch

There’s something just right about a bright, creamy cheese and a light, dry beer. Take, for instance, the local buttery batch of St. Stephen. Delicate, buttery, with a hint of sun-dried wheat and sweet cream under a pillowy rind, it is a versatile cheese that works best with something bubbly. Normally, you’d be reaching to pop a bottle of Prosecco to go along with it, but we suggest instead Reissdorf Kolsch. This Kolsch is light (lighter even than a pilsner), with a minty, hoppy aroma that gives way to flavors of vanilla and gentle cedar notes. It’s a unique mix, but just as delicious as any wine and cheese pairing.

Murray’s Camembert – Logsdon Seizoen Bretta

What if we could recreate the best tastes of a sweet breakfast, but with cheese and beer? Well, with the creamy, toasty, and buttery Murray’s Camembert, we’re part of the way there. This Frenchie’s earthy notes are balanced with a frosty glass of Logsdon’s Seizoen Bretta. Unfiltered and sealed with beeswax, the beer is refermented, producing a fruity and spicy beer with a soft malt character. It is dry and crisp, like champagne, which makes it the ideal partner to a creamy, gooey Camembert.

AnneliesSchneider Weiss Aventinus

If you’re looking for traditional beers, Aventinus is the way to go. The world’s oldest wheat dopplebock, it was created in 1907. It is full-bodied, like any dopplebock should be, with malty notes that linger between raisins, plums, and marzipan. Often paired with roast beef or chocolate desserts, it made sense to break out a chunk of Annelies. This Swiss sweetie is full of flavors of roasted hazelnuts and vibrant alpine grasses. Beneath those, undertones of butterscotch and cocoa are brought out with each swig of the Aventinus.

Pleasant Ridge ReserveOrval

An award-winning cheese from the homeland of American cheese, Wisconsin, Pleasant Ridge Reserve takes on the flavors of the Alpine classics that it is inspired by. Its younger wheels are reminiscent of beef broth and caramelized onions, while the more aged version tends to embody more floral, crushed pineapple notes. While this is a new cheese born of ancient traditions, we paired it with a beer that dates all the way back to 1628. A Belgian monastery was brewing this style of trappist beer since the 17th century, though it was revived for public consumption in 1931. Light and foamy, it has the distinct aroma of aged leather and spice, and tastes a bit fruity with a bitterness that accents the oniony, beefy flavors of the cheese.

ValdeonSagra Bohio

Blue cheeses are often considered overpowering – this Spanish blue is admittedly quite bold and spicy. Valdeon is made with a seasonal blend of goat and cow’s milk, then wrapped in a protective layer of sycamore or oak leaves. Hearty, it requires a strong, distinct beer to pair alongside it. This is where Sagra Bohio comes in – birthed by brew master partnered with an acclaimed Spanish chef. We’ve always encouraged pairing dark chocolate with our piquant blue cheeses, so pairing Valdeon with Sagra Bohio is a natural choice. The lightly smoked ale is full of bitter chocolate notes and espresso aromas.

Eat Cheese, Drink Summer Beers & Be Merry

By John David Ryan

 

I love beer. I drink it year ‘round. But it’s 90 degrees outside right now. I have a cabinet full of barrel-aged quads and stouts–and most of them will still be there when the leaves start to change. No one’s hammering a Founders KBS or Thirsty Dog Wulver right now. You’re drinking session ales. You’re drinking freshly hopped beer. You’re drinking plenty of pale.

But it’s prime time for cheese, too! Cows and sheep and goats across the world are eating plenty of lush, fresh, green grass. They’re turning it into creamy milk and cheese-makers are producing some of their finest products.

Let’s put the two together.

Go grab some Bijou from Vermont Creamery. Seriously. Do it right now. And while you’re out picking it up, grab a sixer of Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon. It’s the perfect summer wheat beer–not too sweet, not too spicy, and not too heavy. Or, if you want to keep it all in Vermont, maybe try some Otter Creek Fresh Slice. It complements the tangy, metallic flavors in Allison Hooper’s super creamy take on crottin. Bijou is a perfect little button of goat’s milk cheese.

Few things intimidate curd nerds like washed rind cheese. And even the most serious of hop heads can be turned off by a sour beer. Fret not! You can pair the two and simultaneously overcome your fears. Cato Corner Farm washes its Hooligan in brine until it reaches stinky orange perfection. Try it with Westbrook’s Gose or Evil Twin’s Nomader Weisse. The tart, acidic beer helps bring out the creaminess of the cheese.

Everyone loves cheddar. Everyone. If you don’t like cheddar, then you probably don’t like cute kittens, rainbows or laughing babies either. Seriously–what’s not to love about crumbly, intense cheddar? And if you want the best cheddar in the world, you’re probably going to grab Montgomery’s Clothbound English cheddar. And if you are going to pair it with beer, you’re probably going to get an IPA. And if you’re going to get an IPA, you want a hoppy, American beer. And that’s why you’re going to buy some Ithaca Flower Power or Founders’ All Day IPA.

Finally, we come to the easy drinkers. The pale ales. The pilsners. The lagers. Get you some Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or Stillwater Classique or maybe a Pinkus Ur-Pils. Anyone can love a lighter beer, and they pair beautifully with tome-style cheeses. My current favorite is Margot. This fine Italian cheese is made by 4th generation cheese makers, and it’s washed in BEER! The hint of hops on the outside sets off the flavors of the fudgy interior.

Eat (cheese), drink and be merry.

Boozy Dessert Idea: Beer and Ice Cream

Kevin Brooks is the resident beer geek at Murray’s Bleecker St.

Not the first thing that comes to mind, right?  Who would drop a scoop of chocolate ice cream into pint of IPA or pour a cold one onto a banana split? Garnish their Corona with an ice cream sandwich, maybe?

While I might be on to something with that last one, my point is that the pairing doesn’t exactly leap to mind. Beer goes with the steak dinner, while the ice cream is the cold treat afterwards, right? I mean it’s not like beer works with everything.

Oh, but it does.

I was first exposed to the pleasure of beer and ice cream during a visit to Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton, Pennsylvania. Their imperial stout, Old Heathen, is a punch in the mouth, full of bitter roastiness and intense coffee flavor. I was savoring my fourth sample cup when the bartender suggested pouring it over vanilla ice cream. When I indicated my surprise, she said it was even better with coffee ice cream. My wife and I couldn’t resist and as soon as we got home, we discovered that the bartender knew her stuff. The creaminess of the ice cream cut the bitterness of the beer, allowing the coffee notes to stand clearly on their own, which paired with the vanilla in the ice cream quite nicely.

Now, given the spectrum of flavors available in the brewing world coupled with the nearly limitless possibilities of ice cream flavors, what other pairings work? Surely we can do better than boring old vanilla. (not that there is anything wrong with vanilla., we’ll get to that later)

One of my favorite trends in brewing right now is the ascendance of smoked beer. Smoked porters, pilsners, straight up rauchbiers; I love them all. However, the originals are still the best, and the Schlenkerla brewery in Bamberg has been making smoked beers for hundreds of years. I just recently enjoyed their oak smoked dopplebock, Eiche, which has a milder smoky kick and a rich, chewy sweetness that just begs to be drunk.

So, when I had the pleasure of trying Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s Salted Caramel, I knew I had found a match made in heaven. Sweet, salty, smoky… not just delicious, but alliterative as well. I could also have added creamy and luscious, but that would have broken my S streak. But this sundae pairing shows how satisfying a good savory on sweet pairing can be.

That’s all well and good, I hear you say, but what about that IPA you mentioned in the beginning?

Back in my IPA post, I wrote about Southern Tier’s Oak Aged Unearthly, a shockingly strong IPA that had been de-fanged by a lengthy slumber in an oak barrel. It was the surprise of the tasting, as its lack of hop bite left behind a big, caramelly malt bomb with a solid underlying bitterness. “Pairs well with chocolate,” I wrote, perhaps foreseeing this very problem.

As with any pairing, it’s important to find something with an equally intense flavor that can stand up to the beer. How about Steve’s Brooklyn Black-Out? That sounds intense, let’s see… milk chocolate ice cream swirled with Ovenly’s chocolate stout cake pieces and dark chocolate pudding. So that’s chocolate with chocolate, with chocolate swirled in. Yeah. That sounds pretty intense. The beer and the ice cream work surprisingly well together, with the beer’s bitterness teaming up with the bitter notes of the chocolate while the heavy chocolate sweetness stands out, amplified and accented by the beer’s caramel backbone.

So there’s your IPA and ice cream sundae. Done and done.

But are sundaes the only option? There are so many other ice cream treats out there. What about that most indulgent of sweet treats, the root beer float? It already has beer right there in the name, surely there must be a way to capture that same sweet, creamy, vanilla and spice deliciousness?

The first step is finding a beer with the right flavor and the right amount of residual sweetness to pair with a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream. Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout is a perfect choice: The addition of lactose, a sugar that yeast cannot ingest, leaves this stout with a mellow sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got everything you want: An alcoholic root beer float with that fantastic melted ice cream/beer slurry. A perfect combination for those long winter nights at home.

Beer and ice cream: two great things that go great together. While hardly the obvious pick, a little experimentation will reward you with some surprising flavor combos, as well as a few raised eyebrows when you up end the beer bottle over the giant sundae you’ve just put out.

Ice cream and beer are currently available at our Bleecker location only.

After-Hours Holiday Shopping Event! Wednesday, December 5th 9-10:30pm

After-Hours Holiday Shopping Event

Wednesday, December 5th, 9-10:30pm at Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village, 254 Bleecker Street

Join us for an exclusive after-hours shopping event where you’ll

Taste new craft beers and ciders, holiday gifts, and our favorite seasonal cheeses.

Save 20% off all retail purchases, classes, mail order and catering orders for one night only.

Help New Yorkers hit by Hurricane Sandy. Ticket sales will be donated to Food Bank for NYC’s Sandy relief fund.

 

Admission is $10. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Food Bank for New York City’s Hurricane Sandy relief fund.

Space is limited! Signup online.

Questions?Email beth@murrayscheese.com.