Kalamazoo has many of my favorite beers stops. With so many great beer spots in this great city, it is often difficult to choose my destinations. Since it had been awhile, last Saturday I decided to head to the Central City Tap House (CCTH). To my great surprise, I walked right into a barrel aged beer and cheese pairing. The only thing better in my mind might have been to add chocolate, but we will save that for another tasting.
Quite often my visits to CCTH are in the evening, after my friend and manager Brandon Banicki has left for the day. So it was good to catch up with him as well. According to Brandon, they like to go that extra step to bring beer enthusiasts wonderful tasting experiences. One particular Goose Island event from April of 2012 stands out in my mind, that included most of their barrel aged beers at the time.
So here was the lineup for the beer and cheese pairing:
Stone Brewing Company Red Wine Barrel Aged Cali-Belgique - (Belgian IPA, 6.9% ABV). As the name implies, this is a combination of California style hops, Magnum, Chinook, and Centennial, and Belgian yeast, which produce a citrusy, slightly sweet beer, with a dry finish. It was paired with Rogue Oregonzola. A nod to Rogue Creamery's Italian heritage, Oregonzola blue cheese was developed by Ignazio Vella in the late 1990's. The smooth and yielding texture of the past and clearly defined blue veins are reminiscent of the great Gorgonzola but the bouquet of fruit, sweet cream and tangy flavors set it apart as an American original.
Goose Island Matilda Lambicus - (7% ABV). The label describes this beer as a Belgian Pale Ale re-fermented with brettanomyces. "Brett" is a yeast that is used to create funky, wild ale characteristics. Some dark fruitiness up front, with a nice tart, funky finish. It was paired with Dublin Farm Peasant Brie. I love the fact that they chose a regional cheese from Michigan. Sustainability, respect, and kindness are what goes into Dublin Farms handmade cheese. Handcrafted with local cows milk in Royal Oak, MI. Dublin Farms Peasant Girl Brie is the perfect mixture of creamy cultures and salt content.
Goose Island Lolita - (8.2% ABV). This beer is also a Belgian Style Pale Ale fermented with Brett and aged in French oak Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels. However, it is fermented for up to eight months on 50+ pounds of fresh raspberries in each barrel, sourced locally from a family farm in Michigan. It is very reminiscent of a Belgian Framboise, with the raspberries very up front in the flavor. Nice blend of sweet and tart. It was paired with Montrachet. Goat cheese has been made for thousands of years, and was probably one of the earliest made dairy products. In the most simple form, goat cheese is made by allowing raw milk to naturally curdle, and then draining and pressing the curds. Soft goat cheeses are made in kitchens all over the world, with cooks hanging bundles of cheesecloth filled with curds in the warm kitchen for several days to drain and cure. If the cheese is to be aged, it is often brined so it will form a rind and then stored in a cool cheese cave for several months or so.
Founders Sweet Repute - (wheat wine, 12.6% ABV). Maple syrup bourbon barrels and regular bourbon barrels were used to age this beer for 16 months, with the final product carefully blended. Of course this style was very different than the first three, but I got much more barrel affect with this one. As the name suggests, plenty of malty, caramel, maple, and fruity sweetness here. It was paired with Stilton, a historical monster of a cheese. The history of Stilton can be traced back to the early 18th century and although it is clear that the recipe used has changed quite dramatically over the years it remains one of the world's best known and much loved cheeses. Stilton's unique flavour makes it suitable not only for those special occasions when only the best will do, but also for perking up everyday recipes and snacks. With it's slightly open texture and creamy background it melts and crumbles easily and is one of the few cheeses that freezes well.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout - (14.2% ABV, IBUs 60). Not much more that I can say about this beer. One of the most incredible, thick, rich, midnight black, complex imperial stouts that you can find. Paired with Carr Valley 4 yr. Aged Cheddar. Handcrafted in the La Valle Plant in small vats by cheese-makers with more than 100 years experience. Aged 4 years in their, this cheese placed 3rd at the 2007 American Cheese Society competition and was 2nd place at the 2008 American Cheese Society competition.
For hours or information on other upcoming events, check out their website.