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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2 Austin Amber
1 Pont l'Eveque
3 "Buff" Goat Cheese
4 Bleu Cheese
2 Amber-Pont l'Eveque
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!