Beer and cheese

Wine and cheese parties were all the rage in the 70s. That’s when wine and cheese first really got together. For years the two were joined at the hip and happening social gatherings.

Back then, they seemed such a nice couple.

But they were also impressionable, unripened and un-aged – far too young to realise their differences and the fate was awaiting them. Cracks soon appeared and, a few decades on, the relationship is now crumbling like a Danish Blue.

They still pretend to get on but, deep down, they’ve both got their doubts. But there’s no reason why wine and cheese should like each other. In fact, I expect chalk has a less rocky rapport with cheese than wine does.

The fact that the two often meet on the dinner table after a meal is a touching ritual, but hardly a foundation for a solid future.

Why do they insist on pursuing such a pointless marriage of convenience? A lot of things seemed like a good idea way back then but would you wear a Tank Top today?

Harsh I know, but it’s time for the two to go their separate ways.

A full-bodied wine, that’s improved with age, shouldn’t have any trouble finding a partner away from the cheeseboard while cheese can set himself free and do what he’s always wanted to do – namely go and sow his wild oatcakes with beer.

It’s the perfect partner, proper whirlwind affair material, a match made in heaven. Beer and cheese have a lot in common you see. Both are traditional farmhouse products with the same agricultural ancestry. Cheese is made from the milk of cows, sheep and goats that munch on grass. Barley, essentially another kind of grass, is what brewers use to make beer.

Both are fermented, aged and shaped by tiny little organisms. Both can be enjoyed at their most youthful with simple, clear flavours, or with some maturity when a range of complex characters are on show.
It’s an exciting time to match-make beer and cheese. Both are undergoing an epicurean epiphany. Artisan cheeses and craft beers are growing in popularity and melting the butter of discerning drinkers and diners who, let’s face it, want something a bit funkier than the humdrum household names.

A maverick selection of both beer and cheeses were recently gathered together at the salubrious Paxton & Whitfield shop in central London. Paxton & Whitfield is the big cheese of the cheeseshop world.

It takes pride in sourcing and maturing exceptional cheeses from throughout Europe and has supplied cheese to the Royal Family since 1850. If you want 300 of the finest cheeses around then this is the place to go. It’s not the place, however, to reveal your love for Edam or Kraft cheese slices.

The beers, meanwhile, were supplied by the Beer Naturally Campaign. Funded by Coors Brewers and backed by the Independent Family Brewers of Britain, ‘Beer Naturally’ champions all things beer-related with a healthy focus on beer’s budding relationship with food.

What a wonderful idea. Armed with a glass, a cheese knife and a pocketful of crackers, Beers of the World dived in for some serious matchmaking:

This Article is from Beers of the World Issue 3, and the rest can be found here. 

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