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The Beer Lover’s Guide To Cheese: Double IPA & Blue Cheese

Beer & Cheese.  Oh, how they go together so well.  Oh, how I savor each sip of dreamy beer and bite of creamy cheese.  They are a treat.

Today, we take our first step in an exploration of beer and cheese pairings.  But first, I need to take a minute to say Thanks to my wonderful wife.  I came home from work today to find she had stocked our fridge with a growler of Dry Dock’s Hop Abomination and enough cheese to make a goat blush.  She rocks!

So Hop Abomination is a special Double IPA brewed every now and then by Dry Dock’s head brewer Doug Hyndman.  He tweaks the recipe for each batch, resulting in a new, unique and fun beer every time.  This time he’s calling it Hop Abomination Funf (with those “fancy” umlauts over the U, which I can’t find on my keyboard).  Funf was brewed with five different hops: Chinook, CTZ, Centennial, Amarillo and Galena.  As if that wasn’t enough to scare the sissy’s off, he dry-hopped it with an additional five pounds of hops!

It’s a magnificent, furry, beastly DIPA, with absolutely no manners, no reservations and no apologies.  I embrace it.  It makes the Gargoyle from Stone Brewing look like a skirt-wearing cheerleader.  This big-ass brew clocks in with a 6.6% ABV and rocks your esophagus with 100+ IBU’s!

Details, details…  On to the pour!  I poured this aggressive beauty into a Dry Dock tulip.  Hop Abomination Funf pours a slightly hazy, dark orange color with slow traces of carbonation.  The foamy, off-white colored head, leaves its unique and intricate spiderwebs of lacing around the top of the glass.

The aroma is hops.  Duh!  Seriously, what did you expect?  Alright, a second visit reveals citrus notes, faint malt and caramel and, hmm, what’s that…  oh yeah, it’s MORE HOPS!  Bitter, smart-ass, know it all, teenage hops.  These hops are just downright rude.  I love it.

Finally, time to taste this beast.  Funf has more sweet and nutty characteristics than I expected.  It’s almost, dare I say, malty Amber or German Maibock? tasting in the base beer.  Once my mouth moves past the sweetness, it’s dominated by the lurking, evil-twin brother, bitter hops in the background.  It lasts and lasts and lasts and I like love it.

To be honest, I’m a little surprised at the drinkability of Funf.  It’s completely possible that my palate is still recuperating from yesterday’s SourFest, but to me, this beer is well-balanced and easy drinking.  Easy drinking might not be the best term to use.  I know there are certain light(er) beer drinkers (GASP!) and Blue Moon types that read this blog, and compared to mass market beers, this isn’t easy drinking at all.  But to the cats that attend events like SourFest or Strong Ale Fest, they might consider this balanced and smoother than previous batches of Hop Abomination’s.

Either way, Hop Abomination is delish!  Damn good!  Thank you Doug for brewing and releasing another tasty batch of this beer.  Bottles please?  Pretty please?

Cheese?  Did I mention cheese about 8 paragraphs up?!?  Why, yes I did.  IPA’s both big and small long to be paired with a nice, big ol’ hunk of cheese.  Wine is nice, but beer and it’s bubbly carbonation will cleanse your palate after each taste, which might be why I prefer beer over wine.

My favorites to pair with the style are sharp’s and blue’s.  Both styles of cheese are big and bold in flavor, which you need if you want something to stand up to the big flavors of an IPA.  Essentially, a lighter cheese will get washed out by a big, flavorful beer and vice versa.  Big beers and big cheese go hand-in-hand.  Still with me?

For tonight, I’ve decided to pair Hop Abomination Funf, with a big chunk of Blue Cheese.  Blue cheese is spiked with Penicillium, which results in a sharp, salty, blue-veined cheese.  It’s divine!  There are quite a few variations including Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton.  They all have their own, unique qualities and I highly recommend taking your time in exploring them and finding your favorite(s).

For me, there’s nothing better than a wedge of Cambozola.  You can’t beat it.  I challenge you to try.  Hmm, scratch that, bacon might (and I stress MIGHT), improve Cambozola.  I just got a craving for Cambozola bacon cheeseburgers!  We’ll talk Cambozola another day, don’t you worry.

I’m generally not a fan of these crazy kids and their new-fangled “beer cocktails” and I feel the same way about my cheese.  I like to eat my cheese on its’ own.  It’s really just about personal preference.  If you want some crackers, skip the cheese nips and go with something simple so you don’t miss out on the cheese flavor.  Or, get creative and use your cheese in a recipe.  Blue crumbles nicely and can be easily drizzled over pizza, pasta or salad.  Mix it up and make a burger or omelette.  It’s up to you.

Take a look at the cheese section next time your at the grocery store.  See what kind of interesting cheeses you can find and try your hand at pairing them up with your favorite beers.  Give it a whirl and feel free to share your opinions and suggestions on the Facebook Page.

Oh, and grab some Hop Abomination Funf while you’re at it.  It won’t be around for long, so get it while you can.

Cheers!

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