Happy Holidays everyone! We hope you’re enjoying this holiday season. By now you should be relaxing, gettin’ your grub on, and heading deep into seasonal depression. Very soon, many people will descend on Black Friday, storming shops and stores in town, tossing people to the side, and running over children in the hopes of saving a few bucks. Big fun! Let’s add some stank to it.
As some may know from past articles, over the holidays we like to do pairings with our fave local brews. We’ve done everything from candy pairings to pairings for your oh-so-fun relatives. For this holiday season, we’re going to an all-time favorite of mine: Stinky Cheese!!
After days of stuffing your face, shopping, dealing with kids, and everything else, why not treat yourself to a nice night of some cheese and wine? Or, if you’re like me — and I know you are — local Craft brews. Some people you know might like a nice Pinot or Chardonnay with their cheese… but not us, because we’re American (kidding). Actually, any good wine or whisky will do quite well with most cheese, but for the purposes of my tastes this Thanksgiving, we’re going with beer.
Two the of the great loves of my life are beer and cheese (along with hot sauces and, well, a few more things). Many years ago I acquired a palate for really earthy washed-rind cheeses, and this sparked a journey into stink unlike any other. I’m not even kidding — as you can see from the picture of my Death Star cheese plate set, I’m deathly serious.
For these pairings I wanted to make it easy for you. I stopped in Ellwood Thompson’s — a one-stop shop for all your cheese and beer needs. My friends at Ellwood’s are very knowledgeable on it all, and can provide it all in one visit, or offer some options. Below is just a quick match on a few good ones I like, in all their gooey creamy stank. #stankyhollidays
So let’s break this down first:
Washed-Rind Cheeses are types that have been washed in brine or salt, bathed in wine or liquor, scrubbed, aged, shouted at, and called names. They grow bacteria (brevibacterium linens) on them, which give them their golden hue, or orange crust around the edges. Ready for this? The bacteria that grows resembles the bacteria that can get on your feet and produce Methanethiol — the molecule that is largely responsible for the stink in stinky cheese and the smell of smelly feet. Boom!!! There you have it. I’m here to teach you things that can be used in odd conversations, or for Trivial Pursuit.
These cheeses might seem very stinky from the offset, but often have a wonderful earthy and creamy treat underneath. Don’t let that rind scare you off — it’s there to help out. So now that you understand the basics, let’s move on.
Pont-Le’Eveque paired with Hardywood Bourbon Barrel GBS
Going big for this first one. One thing is for certain — I can not, for the life of me, say that name correctly. I looked it up. It’s way too hard for me, so I’m calling it “Pont” for now. It can be stinkier depending on which one you get. I find find it fairly easy to deal with in comparison to a Limburger, Epoisses, or French Muenster. It’s a nice earthy creamy cheese that most would enjoy, and it’s considered one of the big ones from France.
Pairing this with a big wash of Bourbon Barrel GBS from Hardywood. Grab some bread or a cracker if you need. I find the GBS can stand on its own and give a bit of bourbon on the back palette, which gets you ready for the next bite of cheese. Plus, when you’re done, you’ve got a whole bottle of GBS to down. Enjoy.
Meadow Creek Grayson with Bingo Beer Fiordland
Grayson makes wonderful local-ish cheeses; you can really feel the mountains and freshness in everything they make. I love the Grayson in particular because it packs a punch. It’s beefy and big, and some might be a bit worried from the immediate smell, but you should jump in and do it. It somehow has a nice deep end cream with a bit of funky mushroom hit, all somehow giving us that nice mountain feel at the same time. I have grown to really love it.
I’m pairing this with Bingo Beer’s Fiordland — a big IPA that can stand up with this cheese. All these Bingo Beers would be good, I’m just going with the big juicy one to match the cheese. I like this pairing a lot. Take time between bites to refresh.
Locksley Estate Prince John with Three Notch’d Brewing’s A Foggy Day
Prince John is a wonderful cheese that anyone would dig into — it’s on the lighter fare of this list. This cheese has a pleasant salty and sweet finish to it. You can eat the rind on this one, as it’s fine and silky (much like an easygoing cream brie).
Pairing this with a Foggy Day here, as the English low bitter IPA works nicely to complement this cream bomb. This would make a nice pairing for a Christmas party as well.
Monte Enebro with Väsen Velvet Walrus
Something a lithe different here — not your usual washed rind. But we do dip into the goat’s milk area, and that’s a place I really like. This cheese also has some penicilium roqueforti, with a blue mold that develops on the outside. But most importantly, it is a powerful goat cheese that’s really dense and rich. Over time, and with an older version of this cheese, it gets quite barnyard, and then I really love it.
I’m putting this with Väsen’s Velvet Walrus Bourbon Barrel edition to pair with this goat. I like the two horns together, ya know. It’s a nice silky milk stout that draws some nice malty maple bourbon taste. It works well with this big goat ramming us. Black Phillip approved 100%.
Taleggio with Twelfth Night from Lickinghole Creek
You probably know this one, it’s quite popular on the rind cheese front with most of us. I don’t think it’s smelly at all, but some might disagree. I do know it’s amazing with just about anything. I also know I had an old one I named “Stan Malone” once. I took him from house to house with me in the fridge. Eventually, he became basically a really intense muenster stink bomb that grew legs. He was my constant — until he mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again. I think somewhere out there he still lives, going from house to house… I can dream, at least.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Taleggio is great with a nice fruity tang to it. It has a thin crust — unless it gets older, like Stan. I’m pairing this fruity guy with Twelfth Night, because Shakespeare would make it so. This is a big quad that is quite powerful, dank, spiced, and boozy. The fruity background of these pair well. This is nice after dessert — or for dessert.
Drunken Goat with Commonwealth Brewing’s Co’s Botanicalia — or any Commonwealth beer
Drunken Goat is a staple for me, if I can get it. It’s a cheese the kids love, a not-too-musky goat cheese that’s a hard cheese but not too heavy. I like munching on it before meals. It’s also great on salads, candies, crackers, macaroons, ice cream, strawberries, spaghetti, and… well, you get the point. Buy it and eat it.
I’m pairing this with Commonwealth Brewing’s Botanicalia, a Berliner that is fruity and light enough to pair with this cheese. It really shines with some tropical feels, and is very drinkable. You can’t go wrong with any of their beers, but the strong IPA might be a bit much for this pairing. Then again, shoot, it’s worth trying.
Brebirousse D’Argental with Mad Elf from Troegs
Brebirousse D’Argental is another cheese I can’t really pronounce. But that’s okay, because I love it no matter what. It’s a gooey, buttery, bomb washed-rind cheese made from sheep’s milk. So it’s got a bit of backbone in the creaminess, but man, this one is a crowd pleaser. Probably should get two of them, or a full half of this one. It’s such a rich, creamy cheese that it’s going to go fast.
Pairing this with a holiday classic: Troegs‘ Mad Elf. Those are ridiculous together. Watch yourself on the Mad Elf — he is a bad man. Don’t let the ears and small stature fool you. He will turn the night in a different way. Take time between tastes, and don’t be greedy on that cheese, as everyone needs some.
Thats it, y’all. I hope you enjoy these cheeses and beers. There are plenty more that the fine folks at Ellwood’s can help you with. Let us know of any other fine pairings you enjoy — I’m always on the lookout. Enjoy your Stinky Holidays, RVA!
Top Photo by John Reinhold