People usually think of wine when you hear about a cheese pairing. Little do they know that wine doesn’t stand a chance against a well paired beer. Wine lacks so many characteristics that beer possesses, which keeps it from truly ever matching cheese. Grab a wine magazine and you’ll definitely find any well respected wine expert giving his/her opinion on this matter. Fact is, it just doesn’t have the dimensions of flavors and textures that beer has. Cheese is a complex mouth full of flavors and thickly coats the mouth. Beer has the power to match the many flavors in the cheese, enhance flavors and also clean the palate. Wine’s grape flavors, whether sweet, dry or acidic at best will contrast the flavors of cheese. Wine writer Joanna Simon laments “the idea that wine and cheese are perfect companions is, I’m afraid, one of the great myths.”

   Peperoncino, is aged Asiago cheese made from cow’s milk. When the curd is mixed, dried peppers are added to the mixture before it hits the molds. Asiago cheese is quite creamy and mild and in this case followed by spicy red pepper flavor. As for a beer, I needed the malt to match the mild creaminess and a high hop bitterness to handle the spicy peppers. Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA is light bodied and very mild in malt flavor, which is quite typical of IPA’s. The kicker is the hops with the peppers, what a combo. Peperoncino can leave one with a bit of a spicy tingle, but with a hoppy beer, that flavor will be enhanced and subdued at the same time. Hops enhance the flavors quite well and at one point in the medley neutralize the spiciness of a dish. It is quite remarkable. To finish, the carbonation wipes the palate clean, leaving your mouth clean and your taste buds refreshed. This beer style went so well with the Peperoncino, it had the zing to stand up against such a spicy cheese. Be sure to give it a try.

   As you probably already know, I didn’t make my own cheese. You can find an assorted array of cheeses at a good supermarket, be sure to grab some and a few beers and start giving it a shot. Watch for the next cheese pairing, coming up soon.
beer + food = Barleydine


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