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!

girl + winter beers

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

The Food Alternative | Tuesday’s 6pm on RTRFM 92.1 Drivetime

Listen here to past segments

I was invited to Perth’s RTRFM radio station last night to chat about winter beers during the Drivetime segment called ‘The Food Alternative’. It’s a weekly segment every Tuesday at 6pm that explores Perth’s great food and beverage scene. I had an absolute blast chatting about beers with Drivetime hosts Simon and Anth. In the lead up* to last night I had naturally been thinking a LOT about winter beers.

*aka bundle of nerves at being on the radio

As much as the beer geek in me is screaming that stouts and porters are great drinking all year around not just winter, I cannot deny that my palate craves those darker brews more when the temperature drops. Like ballsy red wine, peaty scotch and roast dinner, the darker ales are just the ticket for a wintery night.

I’ve got some exciting beers in our fridge that are perfect for the rain and cold wind –

  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2014, their annual release barleywine style beer
  • Boatrocker Ramjet Whisky Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, a limited release from Melbourne
  • Cheeky Monkey Silverback 2013 Russian Imperial Stout from Margaret River

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2013

But not every night can be filled with beers edging their way over 10% ABV with flavours that shamelessly smack you in the face whilst wearing a devilish grin. So when you’ve come in from the rain, your socks kinda soggy and your wind swept hair looking nothing like it does in shampoo commercials, here are my two of favourite winter to-go beers to cuddle you back to happiness …

coopers best extra stout

Coopers Best Extra Stout Tasting Notes

Easily one of my favourite “good heavens it’s cold outside” beers, it’s liquid ink pouring from the bottle with a light coffee head. There’s a lot happening here, a little roast, a little smoke and big doses of chocolate, liquorice, coffee beans and brown sugar.

Coopers Best Extra Stout
Coopers Best Extra Stout

nail oatmeal stout

More jet black goodness … aromas of milk chocolate and biscuit and something kinda melony. Flavours of chocolate and red fruit dominate the palate with a little fresh citrus in the back. The mouth feel is creamy and soft; its 6% ABV is well hidden amongst a lot of delicious flavours, of course after a few you are aware it is a fraction on the stronger side. Cheeky little stout.

Nail Oatmeal Stout
Nail Oatmeal Stout

Since I have many favourites I’ll be happily re-hashing this theme a couple more times so I hope you’ll join me and please feel free to comment with your winter favourites!

Big thank you to Simon, Anth, Ai-Ling and Laura for inviting me to be part of The Food Alternative and assuring me I’d be okay. Additional thanks to Simon and Anth for not thinking I was weird when they were telling me to stay close to the microphone and I remarked it was like holding the distance before an awkward first kiss. Sometimes my internal filter shorts out.