Wildflower + Cheese

Sydney’s Wildflower Brewing & Blending teamed up with Little Cheese Shop and Mane Liquor for a fantastic beer and cheese event …

The Wildflower bottles are striking because they look a little lost, beautifully lost.

Image from http://www.wildflowerbeer.com
Image from http://www.wildflowerbeer.com

The labels are beautifully elegant and nothing about them screams ‘beer’ yet their reserved appearance makes them a stand out on the shelf, which, in a market that gets more crowded by the day is pretty damn impressive.

Wildflower Brewing and Blending opened earlier this year and though the word “brewing” is right there on the label, it is actually the word “blending” that should get your attention.


Crafty Pint’s Nick Oscilowski wrote a fantastic article about Wildflower in the lead up to their opening. It’s a long story to tell including a little astrophysics, a European trip and, of course, lots of nerdy beer stuff so grab a coffee or beer, whatever is more time-of-the-day appropriate and settle in.


Wort is basically beer before it’s beer, the liquid before fermentation happens.

You’ll find Wildflower in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west and they don’t actually brew, instead, they take wort brewed by another local brewery and then it goes through wild fermentation with their unique house yeast that founder Topher Boehm captured and cultivated from flora in the NSW region. Then it’s about barrel ageing and blending and the end results are what they’re calling Australian Wild Ales.

BJCP: Beer Judge Certification Program – training beer judges in 80 or so different styles

Despite how simple it sounds – step one: catch yeast, step two: ferment beer, step three: profit – it is far more complicated. You’ve got beers that are constantly evolving in different barrels, barrels that are imparting their own character, and blending them with other barrels in a way that results in a beer that is better than each individual beers on its own.

Wildflower made the list of Crafty Pint’s Best New NSW Beers for 2017, you can read the full list here.

I first spotted Wildflower on the shelf at Mane Liquor and, as you would have gathered from the opening, the bottles caught my attention so I grabbed one.

I attended Topher’s talk in July at the Australian Craft Brewers Conference in Adelaide where he spoke about mixed culture fermentation. I held on for some of what he talked about and was completely lost in other parts but I loved it.

Mane Liquor, 237 Great Eastern Hwy, Ascot

Little Cheese Shop, 89C Whatley Cres, Bayswater

Just before Christmas Mane Liquor hosted Wildflower along with Little Cheese Shop in an eight beer and four cheese tasting, an event that sold out in minutes of it being announced on the Mane Liquor Facebook page.

Luke, Wildflower’s barrel manager, guided guests through each beer with two beers paired to one cheese selected by Geoff from Bayswater’s Little Cheese Shop.

Elliot (Mane Liquor), Luke (Wildflower) and Geoff (Little Cheese Shop)
All of the cheese
Wildflower Gold Blend #1 and #3

Wildflower Gold Blend #1 is a blend of two barrels and, as the name suggests, was their first beer. Luke described it as being the most savoury of their beers to date.

Wildflower Gold Blend #3 is a blend of one of the original barrels together with a four-month-old barrel. I adored the nuanced fruit characters of nectarine, pear, lime pith and kiwi fruit balanced with a sourdough-like bread flavour.

If you’re interested in more Australian Wild Ales, check out Two Metre Tall (TAS) – here is a great interview with founder Ash Huntington on the Beer Sucks Podcast

These beers were paired with La Tur, a mixed milk cheese of goats, sheep and cows milk, that is bright and creamy with zesty citrus and made a great pairing to these two beers. These were my favourite pairings from the event. The underlying acidity of the cheese complemented the subtle tartness in the beers.

Wildflower Gold Blend #4 and #5
Elliot from Mane Liquor pouring out Wildflower beers

Wildflower Gold Blend #4 was funky and earthy with lime and grapefruit citrus notes.

Wildflower Gold Blend #5 had more acidity than the previous beers but it was well balanced with apple skin, white grapes, pear and vanilla characters.

Geoff paired these beers with Langres, a wash rind French cow’s milk cheese with a wrinkly orange rind. I’ll first say that it’s a really great cheese because my tasting notes may sound a little odd – tangy, tropical fruit and ham hock.

The fruit character in the beer and cheese seemed to cancel each other out so the acidity in Gold Blend #5 felt like it was being emphasised so I thought this cheese was better with #4.

Wildflower Gold Blend #6 and #7

Wildflower Gold Blend #6 is a blend of two barrels, one from February and another from March and had a slightly salty character. Throw in some subtle floral notes, fresh lime, apple and pear flavours and this was a super refreshing and fantastic beer.

Wildflower Gold Blend #7 is a blend of seven-month-old and five-month-old barrels and according to Luke is one of their most popular beers to date. Funky, earthy with sweaty socks, but in a totally good way, with a delicate citrus finish.

Paired with Section 28 Il Lupo, a cheese from the Adelaide Hills that is cave-aged for a minimum of 40 days, is fruity and a little chalky that was a nice pairing to both beers.

Wildflower Gold Blend #8 and #9
Wildflower Gold Blend #8 and #9

Wildflower Gold Blend #8 is the last of their two barrel blends and uses seven and five-month-old barrels. Big citrus pithy notes along with fresh lime and tropical fruit; pineapple, in particular, sprung to mind.

Wildflower Gold Blend #9 is a three barrel blend across four, five and six-month barrels where Luke said they had started to gain confidence in blending some of their younger barrels. Straw, mandarin, funky citrus, subtle briny character and sourdough.

Reypenaer VSOP, aged for 24 months, is one of my absolute favourite cheeses. The first thing you notice in this Dutch cheese is its striking orange colour and subtle white blotches, protein crystals that give it an interesting texture. It’s caramelly, buttery, nutty and has strong tropical and stone fruit notes. In this pairing, the cheese overwhelmed the beers but I was still very happy to see it on the board. Served with a red IPA or gutsy pale ale, I think this cheese absolutely shines.

Follow Wildflower on social media …

Modus Operandi + Cheese

It’s been far too long between beer and cheese posts so here’s a recent pairing …

It has been far too long between beer and cheese posts …

A trip to the Little Cheese Shop in Bayswater inevitably ends in one delicious conclusion – lots of amazing cheese in the fridge at home. Then I spend the next couple of nights wondering whether it’s okay to eat cheese for dinner.

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Cheese! Great recommendations from Geoff and Kelsey in-store

Even though cheese for dinner is pretty damn great, pairing it with beer is even better.

The Beer

Modus Operandi Session IPA

Modus Operandi are based in NSW and their beers have gained a strong beer geek following in WA and rightly so, they’re cracking beers!

The Session IPA is 4.1 percent ABV and hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Chinook. It’s a really nice beer, super easy drinking and I loved the grassy and melon flavours that sit side by side with some stone fruit and a lime citrusy finish.

The Cheese

Reypenaer VSOP

A gouda from the Netherlands that is aged for a minimum of two years; both age and a salt wash contribute to the distinctive orange colour.

The taste reminded me of burnt butter and there are some nice rich caramel flavours, a fruity tang and a little nuttiness.

Together

A lovely pairing! The cheese is full flavoured and there’s just enough guts in the Modus Operandi Session IPA to support it.

The cheese brings out all the delicate fruits in the beer and the beers bitterness compliments the tangy of the cheese.

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Modus Operandi Session IPA and Reypenaer VSOP pictured on the right

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