What better way to bring out and discover new flavours of some of Bristol Beer Factory’s beers than by pairing some of our recent favourites with local South West cheeses. Anna-Louise Taylor finds out.
I first got into matching beer with food when I visited the Bierra Baladin brewery near Turin, Italy where we had an eight-course dinner with matching beer flight, all brewed on site, right down to the 'dessert beer’ that was aged in whisky barrels. It was one of those gastronomic experiences you never forget. These days the beer and micro-brewery industry is always coming up with new flavours, tastes and recipes, and it felt right to do something similar at BBF for the adventurous Bristol drinkers.
So on Wednesday night the Bristol Cheesemonger Rosie Morgan co-hosted a tasting along with the BBF Tap Room’s Domhnaill Barnes - and edam it was a great partnership! The BBF Tap Room was full of punters there to try five BBF beers - new additions as well as old favourites with some of the most delicious local cheeses Rosie could find. “I do love all of the cheeses - for very different reasons - and the beer will bring out different flavours in all of them,” she says.
First up was BBF’s new brew Notorious (if you haven’t tried this already, you must), a 3.8% session pale ale with four of the American ‘C’ hops - Chinook, Cascade, Centennial and Columbus, matched with a Montgomery cheddar. This particular Montgomery is rich and nutty with a subtle sweetness and went perfectly with our latest addition to BBF’s “core four” beers.
So how do you experience a beer and wine tasting properly?! “I tend to go with beer first and then cheese, as sometimes cheese can sit very heavily on the palette, so it’s quite nice to have a sip of the beer first,” Rosie says. “Sometimes if you have the beer and then the cheese and have both again it changes the flavours in both the beer and cheese.”
She was right. I set about testing this theory by going all in with another half of BBF’s classic US-style 4.6% pale ale Independence, with it’s malty depth and Citra, Mosaic Junga, Amarillo and Nugget hops, and then eating a mature Cornish gouda, which was smooth with a sweet fruitiness. And doing that again. And again. Yum!
Next up another classic BBF beer, the 6.5% Southville Hop (an American-inspired IPA with tropical fruit aromas and flavours) was paired with Lamb’s Leer - a very local soft sheep cheese, also with a wonderfully fragrant aroma. “An unusual duo,” says Rosie, “I find the ones I like to go for are the ones that pair together well as they are very similar, or the ones that are a little bit off piste that pair differently.”
As most beer drinkers know, blue cheese and stouts pair very well (hello Christmas). So we had to do it - BBF’s chocolatey 4.9% stout El Chocco (brewed with cocoa nibs and chocolate malt) with Colston Basset, a big, rich full-flavoured traditional Stilton. “All the beers you’ve got here are so wonderfully varied that you can always find a cheese to go with them” explains Rosie.
Our fifth half pint was 4.8% Hefe, a German-style wheat beer, with its rich banana and clove aroma and zesty hints of grapefruit - and so we tried this refreshing beer with a blue goats’ cheese made in South Devon, Harbourne Blue, a bitter and sharp taste with a wonderful fragrance.
Somehow, the flavour profiles of every beer and cheese just worked. I asked Rosie why. “They’re quite similar in their ‘make’ principles - and I think you always see a lot of comparisons in regards to flavour with both beer and cheese.”
I’m so keen to learn more… bring on the next beer and cheese tasting at the BBF Taproom I say!