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The Beer Lover’s Guide To Cheese

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The Beer Lover’s Guide To Cheese: Copper Kettle Brewing and The Truffle Cheese Shop

I was lucky enough to attend Copper Kettle Brewing’s Beer and Cheese pairing last Thursday at their brewery in Denver, CO.  This event, which is scheduled for the second Thursday of each month at 7 PM, pairs 4 beers from the Copper Kettle lineup with 4 cheeses selected from The Truffle Cheese Shop in Denver.

Upon arrival at the Copper Kettle, my nose was immediately greeted by a delicious aroma of BACON!!!  I glanced around looking for a food truck, but found the side street to be empty.  I eventually tracked down the amazing smells to a smoker that was prepping the yummy slaps of bacon for the upcoming Makin’ Bacon Brown Ale.  Not a bad way to start the night.

The Beer & Cheese pairing is held in the brewhouse, which has enough room for about 15 beer and cheese lovers, seated in smaller groups of 5-6.  Each person is given a plate with the 4 cheese selections along with a menu giving the name, pronunciation and information about each one.  I really had to restrain myself, as I was very tempted to just dive in and devour the plate.  Man, I’m a sucker for a good cheese.

CKBC’s Head Brewer and Owner Jeremy Gobien was on hand to present and talk about each beer being poured.

He was joined by Miguel Vera, a cheesemonger from The Truffle Shop.

I had honestly never heard the term “cheesemonger”, but it’s similar to a wine sommelier or beer cicerone, only they obviously specialize in cheese.  I think I might have missed my calling on that one…  Miguel explained each cheese to us, while Jeremy gave the history and style explanations of each beer and why it was chosen to be paired with each cheese.

Our four courses were:

1.  Montcabrer – a raw goat’s milk cheese from Spain, with a charcoal coated rind.  Paired with CKBC’s Heller Doppelbock – a sweet, malty German-style brew.

2.  Tomme du Berger – a French cheese, made from raw, mountain cow’s milk.  Paired with CKBC’s Altbier – another German-style ale that’s brown, light and refreshing.

3.  Chimay – made from cow’s milk by the Trappist monks in Belgium, washed with glorious Chimay beer.  The funky aroma can turn people off at first, but the tasty, creamy flavor is sure to pull you back in.  I absolutely love this cheese and it was the most popular at my table.  This one was paired with CKBC’s Imperial Red – a hoppy, amber ale.

4.  Young Sheep Milk Gouda – a sheep’s milk gouda from the Netherlands that is firm in texture, but smooth and nutty in flavor.  Paired with CKBC’s Double Black IPA – a malty, British-style IPA, which, even at 78 IBU’s, came off as more sweet than bitter.  A really tasty beer that paired well with the cheese and didn’t throttle my palate with bitter hops.

There was plenty of bread and grapes to go around as well.

Miguel had prepared sliced wedges of each cheese if anyone wanted to purchase some to-go.  I bought a wedge of Gouda to take home to my wife Patti, since she wasn’t able to attend.  I grabbed a fresh growler of Copper Kettle’s Imperial Red for the road as well.

Last week, Jonathan Shikes over at the Westword, broke the news about Copper Kettle’s plans to triple the size of their brewing space next month.  At the pairing, Co-owner Kristen Kozick, announced that they’re hoping to hold their August Beer & Cheese event in the new space, which is located directly next door to their current location.  In addition to an expanded area for events, the new space will also allow them to produce and store more beer, and eventually expand into barrel-aging.  For all the details, check out Big Shikes’ article HERE.

Big Thanks to Copper Kettle Brewing, The Truffle Cheese Shop and all of their employees for collaborating on a great event!  It was a fun, informative and tasty night and definitely something I’ll try to attend again in the future.

Copper Kettle Brewing Company is located at: 1338 S Valentia St, Denver, CO 80247.  720-443-CKBC.

The Truffle Cheese Shop is located at: 2906 E 6th Ave, Denver, CO 80206.  303-322-7363.


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.