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Holiday Beer & Cheese Pairing

Whether you’re hosting a holiday get together or bringing something to your office party,  a thoughtfully paired beer and cheese spread is always a good call.  Sure, you can bust out your Mom’s favorite Chardonnay with some store-bought brie but this isn’t 1987 and you’re more original than that.   When most of us think of paring cheese, wine is the first thing that comes to mind – and while wine and cheese have their moments, any Sommelier will be hard-pressed to compete with beer’s range of flavors.  When was the last time you found a Zinfandel that tempered the heat of a chipotle infused cheddar or a Riesling that complemented a coffee & lavender-rubbed cheese?  The answer is probably never and that’s why beer is a much better partner to cheese.   Here you’ll find a few simple yet sophisticated cheese parings to accompany the beers in our Holiday 4-pack, along with a DIY tasting sheet to guide your friends.

Holiday Beer & Cheese

Beer & Cheese Pairing Basics:

There are many different approaches to planning a great pairing but the general principles are rather simple.  Start with your beer, evaluate its flavors and decide what you want to accomplish with your pairing. Use these tips as a guide:

Complement: Find a cheese that mirrors the flavors of your beer. An example would be taking a sweeter English Barleywine and finding a cheese like Noord Hollander (aged Gouda) that matches the caramel and toffee notes in the beer.

Contrast: Find a beer and cheese combination that enhances both by combining different flavors.  An example would be tempering the heat of a spicy cheese like Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar with the hop profile of an IPA or balancing the tanginess of Bucherondin with the sweetness of a malty Red Ale.

Cleanse: For soft, creamy cheeses like Camembert or Brie de Meaux, choose a crisp, effervescent beer to cleanse your palate.  Saisons, Belgian Trippels and Pilsners work well here.

Beer & Cheese Pairings with Our Holiday 4-Pack

Our Holiday 4-Pack is available exclusively in our Brewery Restaurants and includes a 22oz bomber of Red Trolley Ale, Tower 10 IPA, Parrot in a Palm Tree & Big Barrel Double IPA. Below are some beer and cheese pairings featuring all four beers included.

Red Trolley Ale & Bucherondin

 

Bucherondin with Fig Jam

 

Red Trolley is a medium-bodied red ale with a sweet caramel malt profile, underpinned by notes of dried fruit.

Bucherondin is a semi-aged goat’s milk cheese from the Loire Valley of France with a creamy texture and tangy flavor.

The Pairing: Red Trolley’s sweet caramel malt flavors provide a nice contrast to the tangy Bucherondin.  Try this pairing with fig jam to add a complement to the dried fruit flavors in the beer.

 

Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar

Tower 10 IPA & Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar

Tower 10 IPA is an American-style India Pale Ale with assertive citrus and floral hop flavors from Cascade and Chinook hops.

Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar is studded with dried cranberries and infused with spicy chipotle for a nice blend of sweet and spicy flavors.

 

The Pairing: Tower 1o’s hop bitterness gently tempers the spicy chipotle, while the citrus and floral flavors in the beer are complemented by the cranberry.

Parrot in a Palm Tree & Barely Buzzed

Barely Buzzed

 

Parrot in a Palm Tree is a robust Baltic Porter with layers of chocolate, coffee and dried fruit flavors.

Barely Buzzed is an American white cheddar, dusted in coffee and lavender. This full-bodied cheese is aged on Blue Spruce racks, developing notes of caramel and butterscotch with hints of cocoa and coffee.

The Pairing: Parrot’s milk-chocolate and espresso flavors draw out the coffee and nutty flavors in the cheese.

 

Stilton with Grilled Persimmons

Big Barrel IIPA & Stilton Blue

Big Barrel is an aggressively hopped Double IPA with a vibrant floral aroma and tropical fruit character.

Stilton, “The King of Blues”, is a soft, tangy, and complex English blue with an assertively ripe flavor.

The Pairing: Both Big Barrel and Stilton possess bold flavors on their own but when paired together their flavors are mellowed. Big Barrel’s hop bitterness is balanced by Stilton’s bold flavors, allowing a rich floral and tropical fruit character to emerge in both the beer and the cheese.

On Tap in the Brewery Restaurants:

Parrot in a Palm Tree 8.5 % ABV – A robust Baltic Porter brewed especially for the Holidays.  Aged two months in San Pasqual Tawny port barrels, the resulting brew boasts a complex bouquet of dark fruits, espresso and chocolate, with hints of oak in its warming finish.

Extra Special Bitter 5.6% ABV – A traditional English-style ale brewed with imported Ashburne and Maris Otter malts for rich caramel and toasted malt flavors. Dry-hopping with Willamette hops adds an earthy hop character that lingers through the finish.

Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale 6.3% ABV – A Belgian-style brown ale brewed with a blend of caramel and brown malts for toasted and sweet coffee-like flavors, underpinned by the peppery spice of Belgian yeast. Aging on French oak adds a hint of vanilla to its slightly dry and warming finish.

Featured Pairing: Parrot in a Palm Tree with Holiday Shake N’ Cake

Holiday Shake N’ Cake: Baltic Porter vanilla bean ice cream shake topped with spiced whipped cream.  Chocolate cupcake, caramel pecans, and raspberry coulis.

The Pairing: Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, this is the perfect pairing to end the year on a high note. Our Baltic Porter ice cream shake is a decadent blend of vanilla and chocolate malt flavors. It’s served with a caramel and raspberry drizzled chocolate cake that draws out layers of dark fruit and espresso in the beer. Santa’s coming to town for this one.

KARL Around Town:

12/23 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – San Diego State University vs. Navy – We’re the exclusive beer of this years VIP Tailgate.  Join us before kick-off  between 2:30 and 4:30pm for pints of Karl Strauss Amber Lager, Red Trolley Ale & Tower 10 IPA.