Chatting Beer + Cheese on RTRFM

A few of my favourite and most dependable beer and cheese pairings

The Food Alternative is a food segment on RTRFM’s Tuesday Drivetime program with the aim of sharing things that don’t normally get a lot of coverage on mainstream media. Produced by Ai-Ling and Laura and presented by Simon and Anth, the program has covered home brewing, pickles, smoked meats and BBQ and ramen.

You can check out past episodes of The Food Alternative here.

Ai-Ling Truong: Blog | Facebook

Laura Moseley: Blog

Each of these two women wear about seven hats each, involved in several side projects on top of producing The Food Alternative and also holding down their full time jobs. If you have enjoyed Perth’s only food truck festival, Food Truck Rumble, then you have Ai-Ling to thank for organising the whole thing. If you have been one of the tens of thousands of people who descend on Mt Lawley’s Beaufort Street Festival every year then you have enjoyed Laura’s work as she is heavily involved with the success of the festival.

I have been lucky to have been asked on to The Food Alternative on several occasions to chat about beer. Last week I was delighted to be back to discuss two of my favourite things – beer and cheese. Being on the radio makes me nervous as hell but I do enjoy it very much, Simon and Anth are great fun to chat with.

At the end of the latest show I promised to put up a few of my favourite beer and cheese pairings so I have put together three. Certainly nothing really revolutionary, many beer and cheese articles will reflect what I have written here but I have tried to give some local beers to try and cheese which is pretty easily found at your nearest small goods deli, farmers market or even decent IGA.

The most important things to remember about beer and cheese pairing are:

1. It’s FUN! Any excuse to put more beer and cheese in the fridge, right? Experiment and find things you like.

2. Intensity – that’s pretty much the only rule for beer and cheese matching and even though I’m using the word “rule” in a very loose sense. Big beers want big cheese, mild beers want mild cheese, matching the intensity is a good place to start. The rest is totally up to you!

Kolsch + Chèvre

BRING HOME THE BRONZE! Eagle Bay and Colonial Brewing both awarded bronze medals for their Kolsch beers at this years AIBAs, Australian International Beer Awards.

A lovely little pairing that brings together beer and cheese from the lighter end of the spectrum. I presented this alongside Eagle Bay Brewing at the 2013 Fremantle BeerFest and I’ve gone back to the pairing time and time again.

Grab yourself something locally brewed like Eagle Bay Brewing Kolsch or Colonial Brewing #1 Draught Kolsch, both pretty widely available in good beer bottle shops.

For a chèvre I really like Meredith Dairy Chèvre Ash from Victoria, it’s widely available and sound be pretty easy to find.

Why I love it: On top of the light bready malt of the Kolsch is some beautiful bright, zesty and citrusy notes. The chèvre has a similar citrusy profile so I find that the beer enhances all those similar qualities in the cheese, making the two brighter. The texture of the cheese is soft and creamy and the fact that beer is carbonated means those wonderful bubbles cut through and lift the cheese off your palate perfectly.

Eagle Bay Kolsch & Chevre

Eagle Bay Kolsch + Meredith Ash Chèvre – Photo taken at home after I did the radio, I was craving beer & cheese pretty badly!

Barley Wine + Blue Cheese

If the first pairing is a friendly smile then this pairing is a fierce but passionate embrace. Barley wines are ballsy beers and so they need an equally ballsy cheese to go with it.

Barley Wine has it’s origins in Britain though the style has now been split into American style and British style Barley Wines. Typically these beers are high in booze, very fruity and rich.

There aren’t heaps of WA local examples but they do exist – look out for Feral Brewing’s Razorback, which has just been re-released for this year, and Bootleg’s Grandfather  – both these beers are yearly releases and not available all the time.

If you are looking to grab something imported then your choice widens, though again normally they are seasonal releases. One of my favourites is Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (US).

As we head into winter you’ll find more and more of these style of beers available, seek them out from your nearest beer loving bottle shop.

A winter barely passes without a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot finding its way into our house. I almost always end up enjoying this with an English Stilton.

Why I love it: There is something magical about the pairing of a big, ballsy, rich, sweet barley wine against a strong, salty, earthy blue that just works every time for me.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Cashel Blue

 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barley Wine + Cashel Blue | Beer & Cheese Experience 2013 at The Local Taphouse St Kilda

Pale Ale + Cheddar

In both instances you want something pretty flavourful, not necessarily powerful or overwhelming, but just make sure you get yourself the good stuff.

Beer wise I’d be looking locally again, in these style of beers it’s the hops that are king and when it comes to hops, the fresher the better. You know those people who take milk from the very back of the shelf at the supermarket? Yeah, that’s the mind set you want here too, even a few days can make a difference! We are stupidly lucky in WA to have so many gorgeous pale ales on offer – try Colonial Pale, Eagle Bay Pale Ale or Nail Ale to name a few. Heading interstate I’d go for Pirate Life Pale Ale (SA), Mornington Peninsula Pale (VIC) or Holgate Mt Macedon (VIC).

If you want to go international then I’d look at Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (US) or Camden Town Pale Ale (UK) for reliable and consistently tasty pale ales.

For the cheddar skip the supermarket and get some from your favourite little deli. I’d ask the staff for their recommendations because nine times out of ten you’ll walk away with something amazing.

Grab yourself some pale ale and a wedge of Maffra Cloth Aged Cheddar, another Victorian cheese that is pretty widely available.

Why I love it: There is a few complementary flavours happening here like tropical fruits, a little citrus and I enjoy the sharpness of the cheddar against the hop bitterness of the beer.

Lagonda IPA and Healey's Pyengana Cheddar

 Lagonda IPA+ Healey’s Pyengana Cheddar | Beer & Cheese Experience 2013 at The Local Taphouse St Kilda

Hungry for more? Check out these great articles and videos on beer and cheese –

Crafty Pint | Beer & Food: Cheese

Craft Beer | Pairing Beer and Cheese, Do’s and Don’ts

Serious Eats | How to Pair Beer with Cheese

Behind the Burner | Beer & Cheese Pairing with Brewmaster Garrett Oliver at Murray’s Cheese Shop

NPR | In a Match Up with Beer and Cheese, Everybody Wins – With a Good Coach

Australian Brews News | Beer and Cheese, Please!

Beer + Cheese Masterclass

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day. During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

I spent all Saturday at the Fremantle Beer Festival and left just before 10pm with three new hats and a few new favourite beers. I think that easily qualifies as a successful day.

During both days of the festival there were masterclasses on various beery topics and on Saturday Margi from Eagle Bay Brewing and I held a masterclass on beer and cheese.

You may already know this because I’ve rambled on about it on the blog a couple of times now or perhaps you were one of the smiling faces I saw in the crowd and if so, thank you very much.

The session attracted around 60 guests

we all basically hung out eating cheese and drinking beer for twenty minutes

The response seemed very positive which could be due to all our prior “research” resulting in fantastic pairings or maybe if you give people free beer and cheese they are inevitability going to be pretty happy. Either reason is fine by me.

Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing
Conducting some beer and cheese research with Margi at Eagle Bay Brewing

Here are the beer and cheese pairings we put together –

Eagle Bay Vienna Lager + Beersine Vienna Cheese

A straight forward match showing off complementary flavours. The Vienna Lager boasts nice toffee aromas backed up by caramel flavours and it’s also a little earthy and nutty. The cheese, that’s made with the same beer, carries nice fruity slightly sweetish notes that go nicely with the caramel thing the beer has going on. The cheese is also suitably rich for the beer, neither dominating the other.

Eagle Bay Pale Ale + Maffra Aged Cheddar

Another great complementary pairing with the fresh fruity hops from the pale ale walking hand in hand with the fruity and slightly tangy cheddar.

Eagle Bay Kolsch + Meredith Ashed Chevre

This was my favourite pairing of the day. I first had this cheese at The Cheese Barrel in the Swan Valley and instantly thought how great it would be with a kolsch. Within days I had a growler of Colonial Kolsch and had located some ashed chevre and the result was beautiful. This was no different.

The tanginess and zesty of the goat’s cheese highlighted the fresh limey citrus characters in the beer

The match was also an excellent palate cleanser, the beer effortlessly cuts through the sinfully creamy cheese … god damn I love this pairing!

Meredith Ashed Chevre

Eagle Bay Single Batch IPA + Bassett Colston Stilton

Eagle Bay’s IPA has a great balance of caramely malt and fruity hops. The hops are a great contrast to the saltiness of the Stilton. This cheese, a cow’s milk from England, is sensational and we had people begging for more. It’s uber-creamy, rich and the texture makes you want to smear it on your hands and face.

That's one big hunk of stinky Stilton!

A few people at the masterclass asked where they could get the cheeses we tasted – Blue Cow have a store finder on their website that might be handy, you can check it out here and be sure to keep tabs on the Beersine website for all their tasty treats.

Thank you

Margi and the Eagle Bay Brewing team for providing the beer on the day and inviting me to be a part of this event;

Beersine for providing the Vienna Cheese, and

Blue Cow Cheese Company for providing the other three cheeses and being very good about giving us samples when we were constructing the menu.

Love your work!

Kolsch + Goat’s Cheese

A trip to Swan Valley’s The Cheese Barrel inspires a great beer and cheese match back home in the south west …

The Cheese Barrel - Swan Valley

The Cheese Barrel is a magical place in the Swan Valley that serves, almost exclusively and probably unsurprisingly, cheese. Cheese, cheese and more cheese. If you were to throw in beer and some prosciutto The Cheese Barrel would be my promised land, my Mecca, my own “if I could open a bar” fantasy of a beer/cheese/cured meat bar.

Sadly The Cheese Barrel doesn’t serve beer but their wines, from their winery partner-in-crime, Olive Farm Wines are quite tasty.

But I’m getting a little sidetracked … Between five of us we devoured over 1/2kg of assorted cheese across three platter selections, the Spanish Board, the Blue Lovers Paradise and Affineur’s Choice.

Indulging in piece after piece of cheese I couldn’t help but think about what beers I’d try to pair with them – in the middle of the blue cheese board I made a wish to the beer gods for an imperial stout to magically appear, sadly it was not granted.


One cheese that jumped out at me was the Meredith Ashed Chevre which came out on the Affineur’s Choice board, three cheeses that The Cheese Barrel recommend you try before you die.

The Meredith Ashed Chevre is from Victorian dairy Meredith Dairy and run by a husband a wife team who are the “largest on farm producer of sheep and goat milk in Australia”. You can read more about Meredith Dairy and their philosophy around sustainable productivity at their website here

Tasting the Meredith Ashed Chevre I thought it was beautifully delicate and citrusy with a nice tang to remind your palate to keep its wits about it. Then DING!, like when the coyote gets a new idea about catching the road runner, it hit me … my god, that cheese would be fan-freakin-tastic with a Kolsch.

Colonial Kolsch and Ashed Chevre

And I was right …

I now had a very short shopping list – 1 x ashed goat’s milk cheese and 1 x growler of Kolsch. I found some WA goat’s milk cheese from IGA Margaret River produced by Kytren in Gidgegannup. I fetched myself a growler of Kolsch from Colonial Brewing. Yippee!

The ashed goat’s milk cheese from Kytren was citrusy, creamy and a little fruity and a wicked pairing to the lemony, bready and soft bitterness of the Colonial Kolsch. I reckon I’ll be adding this pairing to my regular line up!

tasty tasty goat's milk cheese