May 12 2010, 10:09 AM
I’ve long been a cheese lover, but when looking for something to pair with it, I’ve always reached for wine. That ended a few weeks back when I attended a seminar in which five cheeses were paired with both wine and beer---and participants voted on their favorite matchups. To my surprise, I favored beer with cheese in three out of five categories. The winning combinations, dreamt up by Jay Montez of Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, were: Odell 90 Shilling, a medium-bodied amber ale, with Taleggio D’Ambrose washed rind cow’s cheese. The maltiness of the beer went well with the deliciously stinky cheese, with neither overpowering the other. Odell Saboteur, an earthy, full-bodied brown ale, and Ossau-Iraty, a hard sheep’s milk cheese. This aged cheese is slightly salty, and its nutty flavor was complemented by the pineapple and pepper in the beer. Odell India Barleywine, a hoppy IPA, with Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese. The big flavor of the beer stood up to the equally strong cheese. And, as Montez explained, “The fruitiness of the barleywine is a great compliment to the ‘funk’ of the blue.” Tip: Throw your own pairing party, and complete the experience by setting out dishes of green picholine olives, some Spanish Marcona almonds, and a few strawberries.