Boatrocker Saison du Bateau + Cheese

Trying a couple of cheese pairings with Boatrocker’s Saison du Bateau

I fell in love with Boatrocker Brewery when I went to their first ‘Palate Cleanser’ event during Good Beer Week 2013, like a magnificent first date that sparked true love. At the time of the event the brewery, located in Braeside, Victoria, had only been operational for a few weeks. Owner and head brewer, Matt Houghton, hosted a small group at the brewery and took us through a tasting of his favourite sour beers from around the world.

Read more about 2013 Palate Cleanser here.

Since then as Boatrocker have released beer after beer that I have adored, in particular their infamous Ramjet.

So given my love of all things Boatrocker you can imagine my delight when I rediscovered two bottles of Boatrocker’s Saison du Bateau in the back of the home beer fridge.

[click PLAY above to see the full label]

I love a good Saison, it’s the sort of beer I’d like to have in the fridge at all times. It might sound odd but I really like the fact that this Saison is in a 330ml bottle, it just makes it more approachable if it’s just a bottle for one person.

The beer looks divine in the glass. I got aromas of lime sorbet, sourdough and a hint of pear and vanilla. There’s a lot going on in this beer but not in any sort of overwhelming way. It’s beautiful. The whole sorbet and sourdough aroma carries through to the palate, it’s citrus pithy, spicy and herbal with a dry and light mouth feel. I wish I had tried it alongside Saison Du Pont, the Saison generally considered the benchmark of the style, just to see how they compare.

Boatrocker Saison du Bateau

Boatrocker Saison du Bateu (French translation “of the boat”)

Boatrocker Saison du Bateau + Taleggio

Taleggio: An Italian caved ripened cow’s milk cheese

This was an unexpectedly nice pairing to the Saison du Bateau. The cheese, with its fruity, tangy and kinda salty flavours, seemed to coax out the spicy and herbal elements of the beer.

Boatrocker Saison du Bateau and Taleggio

Boatrocker Saison du Bateau + Chevre

Chevre: A French goat’s milk cheese

I love chevre; it’s gorgeous, creamy, tangy and bright all at once. Normally I pair it with Eagle Bay Kolsch; the bright citrus in the Kolsch is mirrored in the zesty cheese so it’s always a winner in my mind.

At first bite of chevre followed by a generous sip of Saison du Bateau I thought, “oh mannnn.” The beer swept over the cheese, melding wonderfully with citrusy flavours. The cheese seemed to release all the citrus and pithiness of the beer, smoothing over almost all the bitterness and the herbal elements of the beer sung out too.

Chevre

So, 2015, how good was it?

Doing the whole “reflection” thing even though I wasn’t going to but 2015 was a pretty kick ass year

Pretty damn freaking good, that’s how 2015 was.

I had no intention of doing the whole “highlights of the year” blog thing but I did find myself looking through my photos from the year and thinking, “damn it’s been a great year” so here we go, here’s a few stand outs for 2015 …  (in no particular order)

La Sirene Beer & Cheese Night

Mane Liquor hosted a handful of great events throughout the year, including a ‘King of the Hops’ Dinner at The Trustee and an intimate sour event during WA Beer Week, but one of their stand out events was the stunning beer & cheese session featuring beers from Melbourne’s La Sirene.

Mane Liquor teamed up with the Little Cheese Shop to create these magical beer and cheese matches that blew everyone away.
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WA Beer & Cheese Night

Staying with all things creamy and delicious, the Little Cheese Shop have hosted a number of beer & cheese events at their shop in Bayswater. All are a sell out due to the quality of the night and the limited places, here is hoping that Geoff and the team at Little Cheese Shop keep them coming in 2016.

You can read my post on this event here*.

*warning: graphic cheese content that will make you want to eat lots of cheese
Little Cheese Shop - Cheese & WA Beer

A New Job with Nail Brewing

On 1st June I started a new job with Nail Brewing. Nail are WA local, independent, family owned and operated and owner/director John Stallwood’s reputation for brewing is highly regarded so when this opportunity came my way I don’t see how I could have possibly said no. I love my job and I love being involved in the craft beer industry every single day.

Dutch Trading Co. & Petition Beer Corner

We were pretty lucky in 2015 to have two pretty kick ass, dedicated craft beer venues open up. Dutch Trading Co in Victoria Park and Petition Beer Corner in Perth CBD together have more than 40 taps of craft beer goodness.

You can read about DTC here in this article by Guy Southern of Good Times Craft Beverages and fellow WA contributor for Crafty Pint.

Beer at Dutch Trading Co

Day Trip to Adelaide

Coopers invited me, flights and all, to the Adelaide for the launch of this years Coopers Vintage. Though under normal circumstances a day trip from Perth to Adelaide might be madness this was beery related and positively delightful madness.

Read more about my experience at the Coopers Vintage Launch here.

Coopers Vintage tasting

Judging (with training wheels)

Being asked to be an associate judge at the Perth Royal Beer Show this year was an amazing experience both as a challenge and learning for my palate and just to get to hang out with some of the best beer people in the industry.

Read more about my experience here.

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Brewing with Women of Beer

Being a part of this years International Women’s Collaboration Brew in WA was a really special event. I day tripped it down to Margaret River and came back with a stomach sore from laughing so much and shoes covered in grape juice!

Read more about this annual event via my article at Crafty Pint.

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Countless Great Beers

I could really go nuts refining and categorising a list of great beers I had this year but don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole, it’d be February before I resurfaced! Instead here is a haphazard list of beer highlights from beers I’d had for the first time in 2015 –

    • Little Creatures Return of the Dread
    • Pirate Life IIPA
    • Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio

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Cheese + WA Beer Tasting at Little Cheese Shop

Six pieces of cheese, six beers and 20 happy people at The Little Cheese Shop

 

There is something magical when beer and cheese come together. Both have a huge variety when it comes to flavour from nuttiness, zesty citrus, juicy stone fruit, roast, chocolate and the list continues. It’s not a wonder these two are such good friends. Sure some people will tell you wine and cheese are better but really it’s just a friendship between those two; beer and cheese are true love, the ultimate couple.

My love of beer and cheese is probably fairly well known by now, particularly if you’ve been generous with your time to spend a little of it on my blog or following me on social media. Knowing this you can imagine my disappointment at missing out on earlier beer and cheese tastings at Bayswater’s Little Cheese Shop but a few Saturdays ago I finally got to one.

Little Cheese Shop isn’t just a cute name, it’s certainly small so their events are limited to 20 people. The event is set out like a cocktail style function but there are some seats available if you wish. It’s a nice informal approach and the best way to use the small space. Besides, if it were packed with furniture there would be less room for cheese and that would be absurd!

Little Cheese Shop - Cheese and WA Beer

The tasting went for about two hours across six pairings put together by both Geoff, owner of Little Cheese Shop, and Jake Brandish, former brewer at Nail Brewing, home brewer and all round good man.

All the beers were from local WA brewers and the original five pairings were extended to six because Geoff and Jake liked different beers for one of the cheeses so decided to present both.

Jake at Little Cheese Shop event

Jake Brandish

Delice Cremiers + Feral White

Delice Cremiers

Delice Cremiers | Cows’ Milk Cheese | Burgundy, France

Just like beers, sometimes you get introduced to a cheese that blows you away and you know that cheese will always be one of your favourites. This is such a cheese.

The name Delice Cremiers translates to ‘delight of the cheese maker’ and I think in this case the cheese maker would have been a little more than just delighted. This cheese is freakin’ incredible. Stupidly creamy, rich and indulgent. My kind of cheese.

This was my favourite match for the night and certainly quite surprisingly as I don’t think I would have thought to put such a rich cheese with a more delicate beer like Feral White, a Belgian Wit. There was a beautiful harmony of the cheese’s rich sweetness with the beer’s soft fruity flavours and light spices.

Delice Cremiers + Eagle Bay Pale Ale

As you can probably tell from the heading here is where Geoff and Jake couldn’t decide on one beer to present with the Delice Cremiers so we got to try it with the Eagle Bay Pale Ale as well.

An American style pale ale so it’s big on the tropical fruit and hop bitterness so it was more of a contrast than a compliment. An interesting match but I’d have to say Feral one the day on this occasion.

Roucoulons + Last Drop Hefeweizen

Roucoulons

Roucoulons | Cows Milk | France

This was a nice match, the cheese is more on the mild side, a little mushroomy, a little earthy and a bit fruity. Overall complicated enough to match the Last Drop Hefeweizen but also soft enough not to overpower it.

The Fine Cheese Co. Cave Aged Cheddar + Eagle Bay ESB

 The Fine Cheese Co. Cave Aged Cheddar and Eagle Bay ESBThe Fine Cheese Co. Cave Aged Cheddar | Cows Milk | UK

The cheese is matured in natural caves in Mendip Hills here Somerset, UK. Geoff described it as a “classic style cheddar”. I found it sharp, full and rich and a good match to the soft toffee malts and peppery hops of the Eagle Bay ESB.

Tuma Persa + Feral Hop Hog

Tuma Persa cheese

Tuma Persa | Cows Milk | Italy

This cheese is rubbed in black pepper and comes from Sicily, Italy. The cheese reminded me of a pecorino in that it tasted very sharp and bitey. Many people at the tasting very much liked the pairing but it wasn’t for me. It’s that the great thing about food and booze, everyone is different! Personally I found the big hop flavour of the beer too similar to the bite of the cheese so it felt like sharp on top of sharp. I had some of the previous cheese, the cheddar, left over and quite enjoyed that with the Hop Hog.

Colston Basset Shropshire Blue + Nail Oatmeal Stout*

Colston Basset Shropshire Blue and Nail Oatmeal Stout

 Colston Basset Shropshire Blue | Cows Milk | England

Ah, magic. My second favourite, and it was a close finish to the end, pairing for the night. This is one of Geoff’s favourite blues and once you have it you’ll see why. A buttery, earthy and slightly sweet blue and yes it’s a funny orange colour. That comes from the use of annatto, a natural pigment from South America. This blue against the chocolate, roast and coffee elements in Nail Oatmeal Stout was simply beautiful.

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 *As of 1 June 2015 I started working for Nail Brewing however I had no involvement in organising this event, beers were chosen by co-host for the night, Jake Brandish

Manchego + Beers

I have beer and cheese on the brain, even more so than normal, so over the weekend I tried a couple of beers with some manchego cheese …

This weekend, November 15 & 16, is the Fremantle Beer Festival on the Fremantle Esplanade Reserve. Not only does the weekend long festival bring together the expansive list of WA breweries but also showcases a range of Master Classes that are all included in the festival entry ticket.

Check out all the Master Classes happening at The Fremantle Beer Festival

One such Master Class will be on Saturday at 3pm called We Love Beer and Cheese hosted by myself and Margi, retail and marketing manager for Eagle Bay Brewing. Seats are limited to 50 and guests will be given beer and cheese in return for having to listen to two rather enthusiastic ladies of beer talk about the things they love.

It’s no wonder that I have beer and cheese on the brain, even more so than normal, so over the weekend I tried a couple of beers with some manchego cheese …

Manchego - nutty, grassy, fruity and a little oily.
Manchego – nutty, grassy, fruity and a little oily.

Manchego – a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese with a distinctive zig zag pattern on the rind. Find out more about this tasty variety here.

Bridge Road Enigma New World Pilsner

“This pilsner has been brewed as an Australian take on the craft pilsners of NZ, a light bodied lager, heavily hopped with the Australian hop variety Enigma”

Enigma is a new Australian hop variety you may be familiar with from the locally brewed collaboration between Mane Liquor and Bootleg Brewery – Ryezilla.

In the body of this pilsner I found the Enigma hops giving off passion fruit, apricot and citrus aromas. The flavours were delicate but complicated, showing stone fruit, light bready malts and a crisp bitter finish.

Bridge Road Enigma confirmed my love for Bridge Road Brewers, their beers are exceptionally tasty and each limited release is genuinely well crafted, leaving you wanting more.

Bridge Road Enigma – ‘Beer of the Week’ at Beer is Your Friend

The Enigma paired with the manchego cheese was a lovely match even if the hop bitterness from the beer did dominate. The nutty flavours from the cheese seemed to cling to the beers bready notes, giving the whole mouthfeel of the beer a little more weight. The beers fruity hop flavours were also nice against the cheeses own fruitiness.

Bridge Road Enigma

Eagle Bay Mild

It’s been a while since I have had Eagle Bay Mild as I get caught up in their totally drinkable pale ale and tasty limited releases like the Cacao Stout. Revisiting this beer is a reminder that it’s really very good. There are aromas of toast and burnt caramel whilst the flavours are full of biscuit, spice and a finish that is all floral hops.

Eagle Bay Mild

These two proved to be another lovely match in an entirely different way to the Bridge Road Enigma.

The bigger malt focus of the Mild, when compared to the Enigma, gave a big boost to the nuttiness in the cheese and together they seemed to enhance the Mild Ale’s floral hops.

Eagle Bay Mild

Fremantle Beer Fest | 15-16 November

Fremantle Esplanade Reserve

Tickets here

 

Manchego + Beer: Round 1

Experimenting with some beer and cheese pairings … the best sort of experiments!

For the March edition of #temptingtuesday I asked the Twitter and Facebook world for their best beer match with manchego cheese …

#temptingtuesday happens on the 1st Tuesday of the month where I throw a question into the social media world, a beery question, one that might set your tastebuds thinking and one that will tempt me. I get inspired and I blog the delicious results.

temptingtuesday ... giving me even more excuses to match beer and food!

I got a lot of responses and they were quite diverse, so diverse and oh-so intriguing so I had to try at least three of the pairings. Hence, three separate posts. Oh and it’s also a really neat way for me to get a lot of mileage from one topic. Aren’t I a clever little cookie?

The Beer …

Westmalle Dubbel – a real, authentic, proper Trappist beer meaning it’s from a brewery where trappist monks either make or oversee the making of their beers. There are only seven such breweries in the world.

This gorgeous Belgian baby pours a muddy brown with flavours of light citrus, some earthy qualities with a warm hug at the end in the form of a fruitcake-like booziness.

The Cheese …

Manchego, aged for three months, that I got from The Re-Store in Leederville. A Spanish sheep’s milk cheese that must be made in the La Mancha region of Spain in order to be a true Manchego.

I love this cheese. It’s nutty, semi-hard with some tropical fruit flavours and a parmesan-like sharpness.

Westmalle and Manchego ... a pretty decent night in

Together …

Westmalle Dubble was just a little too boozy for the cheese. Outside of this it would have been a terrific match, the warm earthy flavours of the beer complimenting the nuttiness in the cheese, the soft tropical flavours of the manchego matching the fresh citrus in the beer.

A Silly Analogy to sum things up …

Like school kids who catch the same bus but aren’t friends –  they could be really good together but one distinctive element, in this case booze, stops them from playing nicely together.

Nevermind … learning by trying is a great way to approach beer and cheese pairings!

 

 

Yeastie Boys PKB Remix + Gorgonzola

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and they’re just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is first and foremost a lot of fun.

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and they’re just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is first and foremost a lot of fun.

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black Remix 2013 Black IPA 6.5%
Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black Remix 2013
Black IPA
6.5%

The Beer …

Yeastie Boys PKB (Pot Kettle Black) Remix 2013 – a black india pale ale from New Zealand. It’s got de-husked chocolate malt and three different hop varieties – Sauvin, Motueka and Wakatu … and yeah, you may have guessed it, they’re Kiwi hops.

The aroma of this beer reminded me of chocolate buttons, it took me right back to being a ten year old and walking away from the deli with a paper bag full of chocolate buttons. The beer was silky smooth with a dry and tropical fruit finish, the chocolate mellowed out as it warmed up and the chocolate dustiness jumped up.

The Cheese  …

Piccante is a style of Gorgonzola, more traditional and mature than it’s Dolce counterpart

You know you’ve abused your palate when you’re getting stuck into some gorgonzola and you think, “oh that’s lovely and mild”.

The Gorgonzola was Castel Regio Gorgonzola DOP Piccante from the Blue Cow Cheese tent at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape back in November and we’ve been slowly chipping away at it since.

Together  …

I wasn’t confident when I paired these two together but it really worked. The malty chocolate backbone of the beer seemed to go with the warm richness of the cheese. Perhaps it was also the contrast of tropical fruits in beer and saltiness from the cheese.

A Silly Analogy to sum things up …

Like a sketchy blind date your mum set up for you, going into this pairing felt like it could have gone either way – pretty good or very, very average. Luckily these two are great together!

Should you try this at home?

Definitely. I’d normally pair Gorgonzola with rich IPAs or barleywines but this was a delightful surprise!

Yeastie Boys PKB Remix 2013 and Gorgonzola

Sierra Nevada + Cheddar

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is, first and foremost, a lot of fun.

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and they’re just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is first and foremost a lot of fun.

The Beer …

Sierra Nevada Autumn Tumbler 2013 – sweet malt, brown sugar, chocolate and roasty with low hop bitterness

The Cheese …

Maffra Mature Cheddar – fruity, slightly tangy, nutty and coats the tongue nicely. Aged for 8-12 months and made in Victoria.

Maffra Cheddar

Together …

The malts from the tumbler mingled happily with the nuttiness in the cheese, even bringing it out a little more as if it was shy to begin with. Being a more malt driven beer with low hop bitterness, the fruitiness in the cheese was able to shine through and go nicely with the beers sweet malt/brown sugar flavour.

There’s also a nice contrast between the cheddars tangy quality against the roasty flavours in the beer.

A Silly Analogy to sum things up …

Like a boxing match between two even opponents, both the beer and cheese bought some tasty punches to the ring – where beer punched with malt, cheese countered with fruitiness – but neither knocked the other out.

Should you try this at home?

For sure! As long as you can find some Sierra Nevada Autumn Tumbler 2013 still kicking around. Maffra cheddar is supplied by Blue Cow Cheese Company and shouldn’t be too hard to stumble across if you hit your local store that has a decent cheese selection.

Moon Dog versus Gorgonzola

Victorian brewery Moon Dog produce some damn good and genuinely interesting beers. Definitely beers that grab my palate just as strongly as they grab my brain, rattle it around and scream “so … many … flavours!”

Moon Dog Barrelly Wine

We all seem to love a collaboration brew, at least I know I do. I have a tendency to lose my mind a little when they appear. I like the idea of two brewers coming together to produce something new and special, something worthy of a little excitement. The “why” behind the beer is always interesting, whether it’s an opportunity for two brewers separated by ocean to work together, I’m looking at you Thorny Goat IPA, or for an occasion like Pig Pen for the Australian International Beer Awards, there’s often a story behind the beer. You never read or hear someone say “dunno, just cause” or “to sell more piss” when asked why they collaborated. Granted it would be a stupid thing to say even if that was the reason but you get my drift. Of course the combination of two breweries doesn’t make for an automatically incredible beer but personally I can’t recall a collaboration beer I’ve disliked. Lucky streak? Perhaps.

Clearly with my rambling about collaboration brews and the photo of the Moon Dog bottle at the start you’ve probably, and correctly, guess that I’m about to launch into post about a Moon Dog collaboration. We have lift off …

Moon Dog teamed up with Anders Kissmeyer, a Danish brewer who was in Australia last year as a judge for the Australian International Beer Awards and to do a few brews with the locals. The result is this tasty little number – Barrelly Wine.

Crafty Pint has a great little write up that you can read here but basically you’re looking at a barley wine style beer that’s been left to it’s own devices in Shiraz and Pinot Noir barrels.

It’s Moon Dog so a fun name and quirky label are a given – I present Love Tap Double Lager and Perverse Sexual Amalgam as supporting evidence,

Moon Dog Beers

Inside the packaging is a beer that doesn’t disappoint. It’s jammy and full of spice, figs and warming booze – a genuinely interesting beer that engages your brain. It also made me sorely wish I had bought more than just one bottle.

We opened this whilst nibbling on some cheese after dinner and only the Gorgonzola managed to hold up and even pair nicely to Barrelly Wine – a fine combination of deep dark sweetness and in-your-face blue.

Gorgonzola - blue gooey goodness

Whilst writing this post a couple of interesting pieces on collaboration brews popped up –

Do craft beer collaborations always make for a good brew? by James Smith

Collabortion fatigue by Max Brearley

Blue Cheese + Grandfather

A couple of months ago I excitedly purchased a bottle of The Grandfather Barley Wine by Bootleg Brewery. The Grandfather is only bottled once a year, a mere 800 bottles, and it was happy fortune that I was at Bootleg just days after they bottled the 2012 edition.

Bootleg Barley Wine

A couple of months ago I excitedly purchased a bottle of The Grandfather Barley Wine by Bootleg Brewery. The Grandfather is only bottled once a year, a mere 800 bottles, and it was happy fortune that I was at Bootleg just days after they bottled the 2012 edition.

With great anticipation of opening the bottle my partner and I bought several types of blue cheese but somehow weeks went by without The Grandfather being opened. The timing never felt quite right; either we were too full from dinner or it was too late in the night. Weeks turned into months and we’d eaten, purchased and eaten our way through plenty of blue cheese that had been intended for The Grandfather.

Eventually we opened it – there was no special occasion, no birthday, no celebration, it was just because we both really felt like sitting down to a nice long beer and some cheese one Tuesday evening … and damn it was goooood.

Grandfather Grid-001

I must admit I cannot remember the intricate details of the 2011 release of The Grandfather. I remember enjoying it with homemade pizzas whilst we were at a friends place for dinner. I remember good company and plenty of laughs. Aroma and palate details do not stretch much beyond “this is awesome!”

So how about the 2012 release? Speaking with Head Brewer dude Michael Brooks back when I bought the beer, I got a little more information on The Grandfather. He ages the beer in ex-red wine barrels from his friends at Moss Brothers Winery. 2011 was aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels whilst 2012 used Merlot which Michael hoped would impart greater red fruit characteristics. It was also delightful to hear that he had selected the barrels personally; there’s something a little romantic about that.

Diving into the 2012 Grandfather there were a lot of big, bold red fruits attacking my palate which, though a little unexpected, were beautifully rich and almost velvety. Rich plum flavours led up to stronger bitter sweet fruit and warming booze, hints of pepper and a soft bitterness. Aromas were bold and varied – melon, plum, burnt toffee, toast … a complex beer that was nice with some punchy blue cheese to challenge it.

Barley with Barley Wine

Saison + Cheese

I was recently inspired by a fellow beer lover asking me on the girl+beer Facebook page about some cheese and Saison matching. I wrote back with a few suggestions and couldn’t get the idea out of my head so I did a little tasting of my own!

Beer + Cheese … Amazing!

Saisons are one of the harder styles to pin down to any definite specifications since they didn’t really have any to begin with. They were brewed by farm workers rather than professional brewers and, as such, the recipe consisted of whatever they had access to. Belonging to the family of Farmhouse Ales, Saisons; which is the French word for “season” were brewed in southern Belgium during the cooler months because the poor guys were still waiting for the invention of refrigeration. The story goes that Saisons had three purposes – first, to keep the more senior farm workers employed with things to do (i.e. make beer) when it was cold and farming was pretty quiet; second, to brew refreshing beer for the workers in the summer months and third to produce spent grain that the animals would happily munch away on. Generally speaking they are well carbonated, hoppy, dry and complex with different herbs and spices being incorporated into the mix.

This post was inspired by a fellow beer lover asking me on the girl+beer Facebook page for some cheese and Saison matching ideas and after tinkering around in my beer-adled mind, I came up with three suggestions:

  1. Vintage Cheddar
  2. Brie
  3. Manchego
The question played on my mind for a few days to the point where I just had to try it for myself. I’ve done a little Saison and cheese matching whilst hosting beer events at Five Bar (Perth) but not in depth and it’s not the sort of beer style you tend to have rolling around the fridge. However, since I just happened to have a bottle of Temple Saison chilled and ready to be consumed it seemed like the beer and cheese gods had spoken.
Temple Saison – beautifully well balanced, complex and delightful!
Melbourne, Victoria
6.0% abv | Style: Saison
After work I went to the local IGA and stared at the fridge, my options were a bit limited so I couldn’t get all the matches I had suggested, but that’s what I get for shopping outside normal working hours. I walked away with Harvey Vintage Cheddar, Mainland Camembert and some Hindmarsh Valley Chevre.
Mainland Special Reserve Camembert
New Zealand
The camembert, a soft cow’s milk cheese, was a lovely match in that the texture was soft, creamy and almost stuck to the tongue for the saison to wash over and bubble on top of. I’ve always loved camembert and especially the rind; it’s a very specific taste; earthy and almost like raw mushrooms. It’s texturally interesting with a distinctive flavour, much like saisons with their unique Belgian yeast flavours that are best described as, well, Belgian yeast flavours reflecting that same earthiness and complexity as camembert.
Hindmarsh Valley Chevre
South Australia
The chevre was an interesting match; it is a South Australian goat’s milk cheese that’s soft and almost hints at falling apart but it doesn’t (what a cheeky cheese!). It was a little sharp, a little bittersweet and overall has softer flavours than the Vintage Cheddar and Camembert; the dry wheat like characters in the Saison were similarly soft but distinctive. Perhaps this was more a case of soft, earthy and herbal flavours meeting together.
Harvey Fresh Vintage Cheddar
Western Australia
I think I enjoyed the Vintage Cheddar the most, its texture was ever so slight crumbly and left a thick coating on the tongue which the Saison grabbed hold of. That’s the beautiful thing about beer and cheese matching, the carbonation of the beer and the bitterness from the hops are great for cutting through cheese and opening up flavours. Sharp and fruity, rich and dry, I had initially worried the Vintage Cheddar would be too much for the Saison but I had underestimated this powerful but subtle Belgian ale. It has great hop character in terms of fruity aromas and flavours rather than any strong bitterness and this plays nicely with rich creamy cheddar.
As a style, Saisons touch on all the things I love about beer with interesting heritage, a mind-blowing match with food and when I’ve done tastings of it with people who’ve never tried it before, and never heard about it, they instantly fall in love. It seems to transcend the words “actually I’m not really a beer person” and it’s always fun to turn a sentence like that completely on its head.