Cheesify Your Oktoberfest with These Beer & Cheese Pairings

When the first crisp breezes of autumn are in the air, you know it’s time for Oktoberfest – that boisterous celebration of Bavarian heritage that despite its name falls in mid-September, heralded by clinking steins and the joyous pulse of oompah music.

Marzen, the style of lager traditionally drunk at Oktoberfest, is named for the month of March, when it was produced in compliance with medieval Bavarian law that prohibited brewing during the summer months.

Given that Oktoberfest beers are consumed in full liter increments, it’s no surprise that they are known for supreme drinkability.  But don’t mistake this genre for swill – here are three unique American and German Marzens that make excellent complements to some of the world’s finest cheeses.

Oktoberfest Marzen-style Lager

Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY)

Consider this your warmup round, or appetizer – a light, sweet, floral, thirst-quenching brew that invites savory accompaniments and thus lends itself to a wide range of possible cheese pairings.

  • A golden-hued, light bodied, very balanced and highly quaffable lager
  • Pleasant yeasty and floral aromas accompany a dominant malty sweetness – a perfect complement to equally light bodied, but lemony and tangy soft goat’s milk cheeses
  • It’s so easy to drink this beer, you might forget to move on to the next two if you’re not careful!

Cheese Pairings Humboldt Fog, Chabichou du Poitou, Pico Picandine, Westfield Farm Capri, Bucheron

Humboldt Fog, made by Cypress Grove

2017 Oktoberfest Marzen-style Lager

Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA) & Brauhaus Miltenberger (Miltenberg, Germany)

With this American-German collaboration, Sierra Nevada and Brauhaus Miltenberger offer a brew that packs more punch without sacrificing drinkability.  Its forward hoppiness does well with cheddars and fudgy Alpine style cheeses.

  • Deep, hazy amber tone with aromas of dewy grass and subtle tangerine notes
  • Creamy mouthfeel with a focused citrus-peel bitterness that conditions the taste buds for a rich, nutty and tangy pairing – think American cheddars and Alpine-style cheeses
  • There’s more here to be savored, but don’t mistake this for sipping beer. Drink, eat, repeat!

Pairings5 Spoke Creamery Tumbleweed, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Consider Bardwell Rupert, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Milton Creamery Flory’s Truckle

Pleasant Ridge Reserve, made by Uplands Cheese Company

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Smoked Marzen-style Lager

Brauerei Heller (Bamberg, Germany)

The final selection, from Bavaria’s historic Brauerei Heller, fires on all cylinders, making it a superb accompaniment to strong, buttery blues and sweet fruit preserves.

  • Dark mahogany color, with aromas of smoke and black cherry syrup
  • Light to medium body, with a slightly tart lingering finish, this Marzen nevertheless drinks like a heavier beer due to the intensity of the smoke
  • Time for dessert – sip this bad boy alongside a rich, creamy blue cheese topped with cherries in syrup or preserved walnuts

Pairings:  Chiriboga Blue, Persille de Rambouillet, Cambozola Black Label, Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, Fourme d’Ambert

Persille de Rambouillet

Written by: Tyler Frankenberg, Murray’s Cheese

The Lunch Packer’s Guide to a Real Food Lunch, with Nina Planck

nina_kitchen_smile_carroll_20151-702x336Back to school time is either right around the corner or right now, depending on where you live. Lunch is officially on the to-do list.

If you’re anything like us, you really (really! really!) care about food. But, your’e also too busy to spend gobs of time slaving over a hot lunchbox. Skip the same ol’ sandwiches and upgrade to these simple, nourishing, day-making delicacies.

real food cookbookNina Planck wrote the book on Real Food. Literally. Nina is a farmer’s daughter, food writer and advocate for traditional food. (Oh, and did we mention she is the wonderful wife of Murray’s Big Cheese, Rob Kaufelt?) Plus, she lives what she writes–a life of real and wonderful food. Here’s what she’s packing in her three kids’ lunch boxes this fall:

Kids need protein. Nina and Rob’s kids eat Prosciutto di Parma, made in essentially the same way since the Romans: by massaging the hind legs of whey-fed hogs (leftover from the production of Parmigiano Reggiano) with salt, washing, then dry-aging the meat for 10-12 months, and sometimes even longer. The flavor is perfumy and sweet, beloved by kids and adults alike. We’re all about serving it for lunch with chunks of Pamigiano Reggiano, or pressed into panini. More of Nina’s protein-rich picks: boiled eggs and chef Amy’s egg salad, available at the Bleecker Street store.

blue_jasper_hill_bayley_hazenKids need calcium and high quality butterfat for vitamins A and D. Nina packs Swiss cheese and good Irish cheddar, Wisconsin cheese curds and Cambozola Blue or Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen with honey.

Kids need fresh fruit and veggies. Plus all this calls for a little crunch, so they eat pickles. We love Crisp and Co. pickles, which are snappy, friendly and complex enough for kids and grown-ups. Founder Thomas Peter of Hockessin, DE, uses his background — a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, a former career as a cancer researcher and passion for molecular gastronomy — to create pickle perfection.

Welcome back to fall, a new school year, and lots of real and delicious food to fuel your full and amazing life…and your kids’ minds, bodies and tummies.

For more real food inspiration, head to Nina’s site. Or better yet, read her books!

Cheese, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Murray’s Guide to Doing it Right

beer!

By John David Ryan, Field Merchandiser and Beer Connoisseur Extraordinaire 

It’s that time of year: Super Bowl season! We’re all talking about things like: what are Russell Wilson’s chances of leading his team to a repeat victory? What will we serve for game day snacks? Who will have the best commercials? Will the halftime show be as terrible as it always is? And what kind of Uggs will Tom Brady be wearing at the post-game press conference? These are important details—I must know!

 Cheddar & IPA

If you’re like the rest of the cool kids, then you probably drink IPAs and talk about how much you appreciate a fresh, hoppy beer with intense notes of citrus and pine. But seriously: it’s hard to beat a well-made India Pale Ale. Known for starting the American craft beer craze, these West Coast originals aren’t necessarily a beginner-friendly beer, but are probably the most widely enjoyed ale. And they’re made for pairing. Try one with a clothbound cheddar. The crumbly, acidic cheese holds its own against the bitter beer.

Beer suggestions: Ithaca Flower Power, Ballast Point Sculpin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute

Gouda & Stout

Gouda is that fun friend who we all want to show up to our party because they make it so much better. Plus, Gouda comes lots of different ways: creamy, smoked, aged, with caraway seeds, etc. I prefer an aged gouda. It’s full of crystals! Delicious, crunchy tyrosine crystals (that’s an amino acid), which typically form within cheeses that have been aged over a year. It’ll be drier, with hints of caramel, salt and butterscotch. For that reason, you need some sweetness to balance it out. Go with a big stout—something with a lot of roasty, chocolate flavors. (Don’t be afraid to add some honey to the equation if you like it really sweet.) Think of it as a boozy chocolate sea salt caramel truffle—your party guests will be amazed.

 Beer Suggestions: Alesmith Speedway, North Coast Old Rasputin, Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

Brie & Belgian Pale Ale

It’s hard not to love a double or triple crème brie. The decadent, buttery paste just melts in your mouth. But you need something with bubbles to help cleanse your palate of all of that goodness. Traditionally, you’d pop open a bottle of champagne—but who brings Moet & Chandon to a football party? Grab a Belgian pale or golden ale—something with a cork and cage on top like champagne. It lets you know that it’s been bottle fermented and will give you lots of bubbles, which is exactly what you want with a creamy cheese like this.

Beer Suggestions: Brooklyn Local 1, Ommegang BPA, Brassiere d’Achouffe La Chouffe

Blue & Barleywine

Blue cheese can be intimidating. Heck: its got blue mold throughout the paste. But it becomes a magical food when you properly pair it. For starters, get a younger, creamier blue like Cambozola Black Label or Chiriboga or even Stilton. Then crack open a barleywine—a big ale with a ton of malty sweetness. You’ll taste toffee, dark fruits, molasses and caramel—but watch out! Because of the amount of grain used in making a barleywine, they’re typically higher in alcohol. So if Uncle Larry has a foul mouth and gets loud after a few brews, maybe steer him away from this one.

Beer Suggestions: Central Waters Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Old Guardian

Alpine & Brown

When I think of paradise, it often involves a herd of cows with bells on their necks, lush pastures, snow-capped mountains, and a smelly shepherd with one of those long, curved sticks…or a beach in the Caribbean. I mean, they’ve got fruity drinks with umbrellas there, but they don’t have Alpine cheeses. Most Alpines are still made by traditional methods and are regulated to insure they are of the highest quality. But when I want a fantastic nutty Alpine cheese, I dream of Comte. I reach for Gruyere. I covet a pound of Appenzeller…and something to wash it down with it. For that, you’ll need a brown ale. Just like Alpine cheeses, brown ales are slightly sweet, nutty, and thoroughly enjoyable by everyone. They are an easy pairing that everyone at your party will love. Then too, if you have leftovers, you can always whip up some fondue!

 Beer Suggestions: Anchor Brekle’s Brown, Bells Best Brown, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

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