All right, so I was maybe a little too excited about this Session.
I really like craft beer, and I really like cheese. I was once posed the question if I would rather give up sex or cheese, and I'll say the choice was very tough.
So we got the three cheeses Jay recommended, plus three more. We got a team together, and I chose two beers for each cheese. Then we tried them both with the cheeses, and picked the better fit to our palates. Sometimes, neither worked, so then I just made a suggestion.
Oh yeah, and most of this pairing/tasting occurred while listening to a fantastic live performance by Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King put on by the wonderful people at 2nd Story Blues.
Cheese: KH DeJong Edam
Beers: Great Divide Samurai Rice Ale and Stoudts Karnival Kolsch
Taste: It was sharper than expected, so that already had me iffy on my choices. Then the Samurai exploded and clearly had gone bad on the shelf, so it was an inauspicious beginning. Thankfully, it went uphill from here.
Verdict: Victory Headwaters Pale (see below)
Cheese: KH DeJong Gouda
Beers: Brooklyn Lager and Victory Headwaters Pale
Taste: Very creamy, and it really worked very well with the Brooklyn. Which was nice, because that meant I got to try the Headwaters with the sneaky-sharp Edam and boom, two pairings.
Verdict: Brooklyn Lager
Cheese: Triple Cream Brie (brand unknown)
Beers: Laughing Dog Abbey Trippel and Cigar City Maduro Brown
Taste: Holy crap creamy, and way too strong for the triple. The brie rolled over it so forcefully that I was worried, but there was no reason to be. Maduro plus this cheese makes a savory, umami sundae in your face.
Verdict: Cigar City Maduro
The Big Three:
Cheese: Cave Maytag Blue
Beers: Troegs Troegenator and Unibroue Maudite
Taste: Wonderful, crumbly, sharpness. Maudite I bought on clearance, and it had gone bad (stunner), but the Troegenator was just an okay pairing. This cried for a sour cherry flavor, though.
Verdict: Kasteel Rouge
Cheese: Carr Valley 10-year WI Cheddar
Beers: Heavy Seas Black Cannon and Mission Brewery DIPA
Taste: Huge sharpness that crushed the beers I had chosen. Roastiness of the Black Cannon was a better fit, but I tend to think this needs a serious hop machine, like a west coast IPA.
Verdict: Green Flash West Coast IPA
Cheese: Cypress Humboldt Fog
Beers: Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot and Left Hand Fade to Black Vol. 2 Smoked Baltic Porter
Taste: Very complex, creamy and subtle but with sharp blue notes. The barleywine was too strong for the cheese by quite a bit, and I was scared both would overpower the beer, but the smokiness of Fade to Black actually brought out some interesting notes in the cheese. A surprising match, but valuable for the change of flavors.
Verdict: Left Hand Fade to Black Vol. 2 Smoked Baltic Porter