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Well done beer and food reporting

OK, if we’re going to pick on newspapers when they don’t do a great job of reporting about beer, it seems fair to also give credit to ones that do.

Cheers to the StatesmanJournal in Salem, Ore.

Rather than settling for a routine advance on the Blooms & Brews Brewfest, reporter Angela Yeager wrotes a story about how to match beer and food, complete with lots of tips.

Smoked, smoked and more smoked

Bamberb OnionFine Living Television features the beers and food of Germany this weekend. Germany: Prost! To German Beer! airs first at 10:30 p.m. EST on Friday, and repeats twice.

Schlenkerla Tavern, Heller Brewery and Rauchbier from Bamberg and Beck’s will be highlighted, and the Fine Living website has a recipe for the Bamberg Onion.

Just a thought. There’s time to track down some Schlenkerla Urbock (a beer that tastes bigger than its 6.5% abv), and make yourself a Bamberg Onion (be warned, the recipe is for four so you might invite a few friends over) – an onion stuffed with smoked pork and topped with a slab of smoked bacon – before the show starts.

Pig out: Still more beer and cheese

Another story about pairing beer and cheese, this time from Vermont.

In this one, Greg Noonan of Vermont Pub & Brewery (only two years from its 20th anniversary – just in case you want to make travel plans now), picks seven of his beers to match with the cheeses.

“Cheeses and beers tend to have fruity flavors that are good matches,” Noonan said. “They both have some amount of sweetness. And the maltiness and caramel flavors of beer complement the dairy flavors of cheese.”

You’ll wish you were there for this. Sally Pollak writes:

The cheese, Constant Bliss, was made at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro. Its beer mate, Burly Irish Ale, was made on the premises in the basement brewery.

Constant Bliss is a semi-soft, bloomy-rind cheese — its rind made from the blooms of diverse molds. It is formed into a high mound that brings to mind Barr Hill, a gentle rise in the cheesemakers’ hometown. Constant Bliss, a raw-milk cheese, has a subtle but rich flavor, with a touch of sweetness. It goes down easy and leaves you licking your fingers, wanting more.

Matching it with an Irish ale was a “no-brainer,” Noonan said. Made from milk produced by Jasper Hill’s Ayrshires, Constant Bliss is named for a revolutionary war scout. The latter-day cheese saint met his death on a Greensboro road in 1781, killed by American Indians.

Beer and cheese pairings

The Dayton Daily News really should let Jim Witmer – otherwise works as a staff photographer – write about beer more often. He follows up on the New Scientist report that wine are a less than perfect match with a terrific list of beer and cheese pairings.

A few suggestions:

  • Goat cheese with a Belgian Saison such as Dupont.
  • Havarti Light with Bud Light, Miller Light.
  • Triple Cream Brie with Lion Stout.
  • Stilton with barley wines such as Sierra Nevada Big Foot, J.W. Lee’s, Victory Old Horizontal.

Make yourself a copy of the whole list.

Beer a better match for cheese

The New Scientist tells its readers: “Next time you are organizing a cheese and wine party, don’t waste your money on quality wine. Cheese masks the subtle flavors that mark out a good wine, so your guests won’t be able to tell that you are serving them cheap stuff.”

Of course, we can tell you something that will stand up to flavorful cheese, but more on that in a moment.

Decanter magazine – the prestigious British wine publication – has a great lead on its version ofo the story, beginning “to some, it will be like saying Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were out of step. But new research has revealed that cheese and wine do not make the perfect pair.”

Then it gets to the truth, noting:

Despite debunking the tradition, the news does not come as a shock to those in the business of wine and food matching.

“What amuses me is that people need scientists to tell them this,” said Decanter contributing editor and leading food and wine writer, Fiona Beckett. “Anyone who actually enjoys their wine will know that cheese will ruin their favorite wine.”

Beckett, who runs her own website on food and wine matching, said that wine lovers should pick one or two cheeses to have with their wine and not plump for a wide selection.

So what’s the alternative when you want to serve a wide range of cheeses? Flavorful beer, of course.

hopsLast year, Janet Fletcher of the San Francisco Chronicle tackled the subject, writing: “After several weeks of ‘research,’ including two marathon tastings, I’m convinced that beer as a partner for cheese rarely stumbles.”

She talked to Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster and author: “With wine, you’re almost always working just with contrasts. That’s not as satisfying as also working in some harmonies,” he said.

Lucy Saunders, a Wisconsin-based beer writer, also offered advice. “It’s useful to think in terms of four things: hops bitterness; malt sweetness or breadiness; the level of carbonation, and extra flavors added to the beer,” she said.

Several years ago, Saunders worked with Wisconsin’s Milk Marketing Board on its 16-page full color “Sampler’s Guide To Wisconsin Specialty Cheese and Craft Beer.” The pamphlet featured tips on pairing beer and cheese, tasting tips and recipes.

Some of the suggested pairings:

– Mascarpone, a soft Italian-style cheese, with a Belgian-style Saison. The tangy beer will contrast nicely with buttery richness of the Mascarpone.

– Fresh Mozzarella and and a dark lager. Another nice contrast: In this case dark malts and sweet dairy flavors.

– Monteray Jack with Jalapeno and a bottle-conditioned winter warmer. A big, malty beer will stand up well to the hot peppers and Monterey Jack. A great combo in front of a roaring fire.

– Smoked Gouda and bock beer. Another beer for cool days, smooth yet with enough toastiness to take on the mild smokiness of the cheese.

– Gruyere and witbier. The spices of the Belgian white beer – coriander, orange peels and other ‘secret” choices – should meld well with the earthy, nutty Gruyere. Substitute Swiss cheese if you want.

– Aged Cheddar and stout. A big stout, with lots of chocolate and black malts so that it hints of coffee, should be handle the the complexity of a well aged, still sharp Cheddar.

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