Sunday, December 20, 2009

Beer & Cheese with Tasty Touring

Jodi Bart of Tasty Touring introducing Independence Brewing Co. and Antonelli's Cheese

I enjoyed the Tasty Touring trip to Pureluck Farms and Bella Vista so much, that I couldn't wait for another tour. Jodi arranged another hit foodie tour this weekend-a beer and cheese tasting hosted by Independence Brewing Co. and Antonelli's Cheese (opening its first store in January: 4220 Duval St, Austin, Texas 78751). I don't know anything about beer and have a limited knowledge of cheese. I dislike alcoholic beverages but love cheese, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to learn more about both and gradually develop a taste for beer.

Independence Brewing Co.-Tasting of Freestye Wheat, Austin Amber, Bootlegger Brown, and Independence Pale

There was a delightful spread of apples, oranges, pomegranates, grapes, banana chips, and almonds, with which to cleanse our palates and a basket of Bona Dea sesame challah, sourdough semolina rosemary, and fennel anise sourdough rye to go with the cheese. The breads were delicious! I liked what I saw and thoroughly enjoyed the tasting.

Table of Deliciousness

Bona Dea Bread-sesame challah, sourdough semolina rosemary, and fennel anise sourdough rye

Read for the first beer and cheese pairing

Why beer and cheese? Our hosts proposed that beer does not overpower cheese like wine might at times (due to a higher level of acidity, perhaps?). What I noticed is how the carbonation of the beer lifts the lingering taste of the cheese. I think it's a lighter pairing. The tasting went from lighter beer and cheese to stronger flavors.

1st Pairing: "Buff" Goat's Milk Cheese by Cheesygirl with Freestyle Wheat Beer;
Honey + Goat's Milk = Yum!

The first pairing of "Buff" goat's milk cheese with Freestyle wheat is the most successful pairing. We were taught to taste the beer and cheese separately first, then take a bite of cheese and a sip of beer, then a sip of beer and bite of cheese to experience the different tastes that your palate picks up. The Freestyle and goat cheese not only demonstrated this distinction superbly but they were both delicious on their own. The Freestyle is the lightest of the four beers we tried and has a honey taste. The goat cheese is super creamy and coats the palate. There's a lemon zest tartness to it. I liked drinking the beer first then tasting the cheese because the honey-like taste of the beer makes the cheese taste sweeter.

2nd Pairing: Pont l'Eveque by Graindorge with Austin Amber Beer
We went a shade darker and more pungent with the Austin Amber and Pont l'Eveque pairing. The amber has a caramel aroma and is sweeter than the Freestyle. The rind of the Pont l'Eveque smells funky, but the flesh of the cheese is a lot more mellow than it smells and tastes buttery with a mild bitter after taste. The amber enhances the buttery flavor as well as the bitterness of the cheese. I am biased towards soft, creamy cheeses so I was quite taken with the Pont l'Eveque.

3rd Pairing: Walserstolz with Bootlegger Brown
The 3rd pairing offered an earthier palate. The Bootlegger has a dark coffee aroma with a hint of chocolate. The Walserstolz is the standout cheese of the tasting. It has a toasted, nutty taste and is very salty, which dries up your tongue. I really enjoyed this cheese, but I can't see myself munching endlessly on it as I can with the Pont l'Eveque because of its saltiness. In theory the coffee-chocolate character of the bootlegger should go perfectly with the nutty Walserstolz, but the pair did not blend in my mouth. They are great separately, but you can't taste the before/after/together effects of the pairing as well as the first two pairings.

4th Pairing: Hopelessly Bleu by Pureluck with Independence Pale
We saved the strongest for last, the pale and the bleu. The pale is definitely strong and has a distinct pine-like aroma with a citrusy spice. I think it's an acquired taste. I find it too strong for me. The first time I had blue cheese, I had a big chunk of mold, and it tasted like metal. I'm no fan, so I was relieved to hear that Pureluck's bleu is like a beginner's blue cheese. I enjoyed eating the bleu with the pomegranate seeds, but I think I need more experience with it to develop a tongue for this moldy cheese. Besides the strength in flavors of the pale and the bleu, this pairing made the least sense. The flavors did not blend. I preferred tasting them separately.
Beer Ranking:
1 Freestyle
2 Austin Amber
3 Bootlegger
4 Pale
Cheese Ranking:
1 Pont l'Eveque
2 Walserstolz
3 "Buff" Goat Cheese
4 Bleu Cheese
Pairing Ranking:
1 Freestyle-Goat
2 Amber-Pont l'Eveque
3 Bootlegger-Walserstolz
4 Pale-Bleu
We finished the tasting with a tour of Independence Brewing Co.

Tour of Independence Brewing Co.
A big thank you to Amy of Independence for opening the doors to her brewery on a Saturday, John and Kendall for selecting four delicious cheeses and sharing their knowledge, and Jodi for arranging another awesome tour!


  1. Awesome post, Sandra. I saw Rachel of Boots in the Oven last night and she was telling me about your awesome posts on Asia from this summer. I'm going to have to get caught up!

  2. Your pairing ranking is identical to mine. So if you ever need a dining partner where beer and cheese in on the menu...

    It was great to meet you Saturday and get to share a table with you and Monica! Always nice to meet new folks who share a passion for food and photography.

  3. Jodi, I simply can't wait for the next event! I trust your food finding instincts!

    Yup, I spent my summer in China. In summary, I found that China offers an incredible spectrum of flavors and cuisines. There's really no one "Chinese cuisine," and the plethora of dishes is the stuff of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and the Amazing. :-)

  4. Summer, I had a feeling our beer & cheese rankings would match! It was a pleasure experiencing the tasting with you and your husband! And meeting again over food would be an absolute treat!