In the spirit of spookiness, Karl Strauss recently held a “Monster Beer & Cheese” tasting to showcase how beautifully some of their “monster” beers can pair with some equally “huge” specialty cheeses. Sure, you already know that cheeses pair nicely with various red and white wines, but have you ever considered all the unique pairing combinations you could create with some deliciously aged cheese and a hoppy IPA, a malty brown ale, or a bubblegum-y Belgian golden? Don’t be scared off, though, by the intimidating thought of creating your own pairing. With a little practice and a little creativity, you too can enjoy (and even host) your own “monster” pairing that will help warm a chilly, wintery night.
All cheeses listed below are available at Venissimo Cheese, with locations in Mission Hills, San Diego, Del Mar, and Long Beach. Visit their website to find out more. And, of course, all beers listed can be found at the Karl Strauss Brewing Company nearest you.
1. Red Trolley Ale – This award-winning brew has a sweet toffee maltiness, with hints of raisins, dates, and plums.
Cheese pairing: Midnight Moon – Goat Milk cheese from the USA. Aged 6+ months. Dense and smooth with nutty and caramel notes.
*What to look for: The toffee flavors in the beer bring out the natural sweetness of the cheese. This beer is one of my personal favorites, and would probably pair well with a variety of cheeses.
2. Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale – This spicy Belgian brown ale has hints of vanilla and oak, and is available seasonally from Karl Strauss.
Cheese pairing: Beaufort – Cow Milk cheese from France. Deemed the “prince of gruyeres,” with hints of hay and hazelnuts.
*What to look for: The hazelnut notes in the cheese bring out the nutty, oaky flavors of the beer.
3. Karl Strauss Trippel – This is a Belgian ale with tons of banana and bubblegum flavors and a warming finish.
Cheese pairing: Piave Vecchio – Cow Milk cheese from Italy. Aged 12+ months. With full, tropical fruit flavor and slight almond/nutty bitterness.
*What to look for: The beer accentuates the tropical fruit flavors in the cheese.
4. Karl Strauss Imperial Amber Lager – This special release beer has agressive floral and pine-like hop character over a backdrop of caramel and toasted malts.
Cheese pairing: Balarina – Goat Milk cheese from Holland. Aged 12+ months. With a delicious nutty flavor, and hints of browned butter and caramel. It also has a very interesting crunchy texture. Amazing!
*What to look for: The caramel notes in the beer highlight the nutty and caramel flavors in the cheese, while the citrusy hops cut through the richness. This cheese is absolutely delicious, and a must-try even if on its own! This pairing proved to be very unique, as the cheese definitely helped tone down some of the hoppiness of the beer.
5. Big Barrel Double IPA – This surprisingly drinkable beer has imported New Zealand hops, which give citrus and tropical fruit flavors that linger through its dry finish.
Cheese pairing: Stilton – Cow Milk cheese from England. Called the “King of Blues” for its sharp and creamy flavor, buttery texture, and clean, earthy aftertaste.
*What to look for: The beer transforms this cheese from earthy/musty to fruity and tropical. This is a very interesting pairing, as the cheese and beer do both change in flavor when paired. Give it a try, even if you’re not a blue cheese fan.
Cheers and Happy Halloween!