I recently had the pleasure of attending the “Beer School for Cheese Fans – Best of Belgium”, with brewmaster Sam Corbeil. This tasting event took place at the Leslieville Cheese Market West Market (541 Queen St. West, Toronto).
I’ve been a bit of a cheese dork for a while now, very slowly trying new fun cheeses and resisting the urge to become a total cheese “snob”. It’s only been the last few years that I’ve even been open to drinking beer, however.
J has always enjoyed trying new beers, and back in 2007 we were in Boston when he had me try a locally brewed, unfiltered wheat beer with fennel and cardamom. My opinion took such a sharp change in direction that we spent the rest of our trip trying new beers… and enjoying them! Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what kinds of beers I like (and almost more importantly, which ones I don’t like).
Beer and cheese are now two of my favourite things. So it makes sense that someone would see “Beer School for Cheese Fans” and instantly think of me 🙂 Yes, this tour of deliciousness was a gift from a good friend (thanks!).
Tonight’s tour paired 5 Belgian style beers with 5 different cheeses. The beers were all very different, and very tasty. I think that I had only had the Mill St. Wit before. Sam, who was doing the presentation, said something that I hadn’t thought of before – beer naturally pairs with cheese, because their flavours are more similar. I thought about this, and realized there’s at least some truth to it. It always seems like you choose foods that compete (favourably) with some flavours in wine, whereas there really isn’t that battle with beer. We ended up buying some crazy smoky blue cheese, and some cave-aged gruyere. We tried to buy some of the salty sheep’s milk cheese, but it was sold out by the time we made up our minds.
- Mill St. Belgian Wit / Mouton Rouge (a salty sheep’s milk cheese)
- Duvel / Morbier (creamy cheese with an ash vein)
- Chimay “White Cap” Triple / cave aged Gruyere
- Goulden Carlous “Classic” / Sauvagine, a creamy soft cheese, on sausage
- Trois Pistoles / Blue Haze, a smokey blue cheese, on rye crackers
In the end, I have to say that the Blue Haze was a great choice. A little bit of blue plus a little bit of smoke make a really good pair – and it tastes AMAZING on fresh Ciabatta bread (thanks, J-dog!).