As it turns out, Curieux and cheese are quite the pair.
This past week, we held a brewery-wide tasting of cheese and Curieux. Eight cheeses, thirty-nine tasters, and much lactose later, we found consensus.
We also learned a little lesson in the versatility of our favorite bourbon barrel-aged tripel when it came to cheese pairing. Now, on to the specifics.
The eight cheese contenders were:
Aged Cheddar – Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Asiago – Trader Joe’s Asiago
Aged Goat – Cypress Grove Midnight Moon
Bloomy Rind – The Grey Barn Eidolon
Blue – Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue
Camembert – Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Nancy’s Camembert
Semi-Firm Tomme – Jasper Hill Farm Landaff
Washed Rind – Époisses de Bourgogne
We wish we were that knife.
Admittedly, our methods were less than scientific. We simply asked for tasters to enjoy each cheese with a sip of Curieux. Once they’d tasted the whole lineup, we asked them to submit a slip with their favorite pairing and a short explanation of why. And because we hate waiting just like you, we’ll tell you the winner right now. Coming in with thirteen of thirty-nine possible votes was our people’s choice: Cypress Grove’s Midnight Moon. One taster claimed: “The aged goat cheese opens up the individual layers of our Curieux, keeping it interesting for several bites.”
Another taster put it differently: “The booziness and carbonation of the beers cuts through the creaminess of the cheese.”
One special taster, however, summed it up nicely: “Took a ride on the goat and I may never come back.”
The Midnight Moon is somewhere back there.
Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue came in a near second with nine votes. In a technically perfect summation, one taster described the pairing thusly: “The blue stands up to the Curieux in a way that milder cheeses can’t. I like that the blue tames some of the sweeter notes of Curieux while still letting the fruit character shine through.”
Pair that with this slightly shorter description: “Money.” Put one more way, a taster said that, “[the] nutty funkiness of the cheese melds perfectly with the sweetness of Curieux.”
You’re my boy blue!
The most intriguing part of the tasting wasn’t necessarily the fact that these two cheeses came out with the most votes (in honesty we had our money on the Blue, since it had prevailed in a previous tasting). The coolest part (to us) was that people loved the rest of the cheeses fairly equally.
The way we’re choosing to interpret the numbers is: Curieux happens to pair quite well with a wide variety of cheeses. What else might the results say? That we probably have to do another tasting just like this one. Really soon.
Also, we encourage you to try a tasting of your own. Who knows what cheese might be aging out there, waiting to rock your bourbon-barrel aged beer world?