Beer & Cheese Party

It's finally here! The notes on our Beer & Cheese Party! Since my birthday was snowed out in February I really wanted to put some extra effort into our next party which would be celebrating Patrick's birthday! Our birthdays are about two weeks apart. Fortunately Mother Nature minded her manners at the beginning of March and we were able to carry out Beer and Cheese party as planned.

I had a lot of fun planning this and Patrick had a lot of fun picking out the beers! We decided we wanted to present our guests with a taste of NC so all of our beer and cheese were selections from the good ol' state of North Carolina. The cheese monger at our local Whole Foods was simply fabulous. He was actually responsible for the pairings; I told him about the party, what beers we had selected, and said "you can just give me a NC cheese and tell me which beer to pair it with and I'll be a happy customer."

The beers getting chilled in the fridge.

I purchased some brown packaging paper that I used as a table covering. This allowed me to write on the table about the pairings. At one end of the table I wrote a "welcome" note and some tips for tasting. And here's what was on the table:

WELCOME to our Beer & Cheese Pairing Party
“One of the main reasons beer and cheese pair so well together is due to beer’s heady carbonation. The high content of fat in cheese allows it to take over your entire mouth. The carbonation in beer acts as a palate cleanser.”

Tips for tasting
Find a balance - You want to make sure your cheese will not overpower the beer and vice versa.
Take texture into consideration - The texture of different cheeses makes them amenable to particular beers. You don't want to overwhelm your palate with too many bold flavors.
Have fun with flavors - You can pair similar flavors or pair beers and cheeses that contrast in flavor.
Timing your tasting - Typically, the best way to taste your beer and cheese pairings is to start with the lightest beer and work your way up to the heaviest or darkest.

After the welcome portion of the table we placed the beers around the table from lightest to darkest color and intensity. This was so someone's palette wouldn't be overwhelmed with flavor at the very beginning. We encouraged everyone to try the beer and cheese as paired but then make their suggestions for other pairings!

And here are the notes for each beer and cheese pairing.

BEER: “Endless River” Kolsch-Style Ale by Mother Earth Brewing, Kinston
Clean, crisp beer with a slight fruity flavor and aroma. Expect a slight tang in the finish
CHEESE: Hickory Grove by Chapel Hill Creamery Aged cheese; full flavored, natural washed rind Trappist style cheese.

BEER: “Wildflower” Belgian-Style Witbier by Natty Greene’s Brewing Company, Greensboro
Belgian-style witbier with a sweet and tantalizing taste. The flavor is defined by spices, rather than aromatic yeast or hops. Chamomile, coriander, and sweet orange peel are the spices that create its distinctive flavor profile. Crisp, light-bodied brew.
CHEESE: Smoked Farmer Cheese by Chapel Hill Creamery
Fresh cheese; naturally smoked. Smoky and tangy, this cheese is intensely flavored.

BEER: “Bad Penny” Brown Ale by Big Boss Brewing Co, Raleigh
Slightly sweet with a caramel and dark fruit finish. A show case of fine English malts, floor-malted the old way. Big Boss uses pale, chocolate and crystal malts to produce a complex but easy drinking dark ale. Very reminiscent of northern English ales.
CHEESE: Chocolate Lab by Looking Glass Creamery, Fairview
This is a washed ring cheese made from pasteurized Jersey cow's milk in a patterned basket mold. The wheels are washed every other day by hand with a brine solution to develop the classic intensity and pungent flavor of this style of cheese. When ready, the wheels are coated with a mixture of sea salt and crushed cocoa nibs from French Broad Chocolates to impart a rich and rugged finish to the rind.

BEER: “People’s Porter” Porter by Foothills Brewery, Winston-Salem
A robusty English-style brew with a dark, ruby hue. Complex chocolate, caramel and toffee notes give way to an herbal bitterness, finishing with a pleasant hint of espresso.
CHEESE: Gouda by Goat Lady Dairy, Climax
Using traditional Dutch methods the curd is washed and cooked before pressing in a vat under the whey. This gives the cheese a remarkably smooth, creamy texture and sweet buttery flavor. It is aged for 4-8 months or more. As it ripens, it develops brothy and umami notes with a nice caramel finish.

BEER: “Death by Hops” Double IPA by Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory
This double IPA was hopped with 5 different West Coast hops and was twice dry hopped with different combinations of the hops. The result is an amazing aroma of ripe juicy fruit mixed in with a bouquet of spring flowers. Death By Hops was brewed to a high level of bitterness and therefore leaves a lingering bitterness.
CHEESE: Calvander by Chapel Hill Creamery Aged cheese; inspired by asiago. Aged at least 7 months. During the aging process, the cheese develops a natural rind with a leathery texture. This rind covers an assertive, flakey paste with balanced flavors of butter, herbs, and walnuts with a piquant tang. As it ages, it becomes increasingly spicy and firm.
 Can't have a birthday party for Patrick without some chocolate cupcakes! I followed this Smitten Kitchen recipe for the cupcakes.

We really had a lot of fun celebrating with everyone at our Beer & Cheese Party! If you came to the party and you're reading this, thanks for coming!

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