Two weeks ago was the first night of my new job: event photographer for Formaggio Kitchen (I’m working on my back up plan in case this whole surgery thing doesn’t work out). I still consider myself a very amateur photographer so I was more than happy to get paid in beer and cheese (obviously the best form of payment)!
While many in the area are familiar with Formaggio Kitchen (and their fantastic array of cheeses, charcuterie, and other specialty food items), some of you may not know that they offer an amazing selection of classes at their learning annex, often partnering with other local producers and chefs.
Last week they paired up with Night Shift Brewing to demystify beer and cheese pairings. Night Shift Brewing started off as a trio of friends brewing beer in a 5 gallon pot with a homebrew kit and has now grown to a popular craft microbrewery and tap room in Everett, MA. Their beers can be found in many bars in the greater Boston area (or visit their tap room!).
While cheese is more commonly paired with wine, I found out last night that it pairs beautifully with carefully selected beers as well! Full disclosure: I’m not a huge beer drinker. I tend to gravitate more towards wine and cocktails but I thoroughly enjoyed all of Night Shift’s offerings last night, especially paired with delicious cheese.
The night started out with a sampling of one of their signature beers, Whirlpool, a pale ale with grapefruit and peach flavors, perfect for a hot summer’s night…or really anytime!
After a brief introduction, we then moved on to the beer and cheese pairings, led by Asa Waters of Night Shift Brewing, and Tripp Nichols from Formaggio Kitchen.
The first paired beer was a very generous pour of the Belafonte Saison, a classic saison brewed with pink peppercorns and orange peel. Another great refreshing beer for summer…I have a feeling I might be drinking more beer during the summer after this class!
The saison was paired with two different cheeses:
- Comté Fort Saint Antoine- a hard cow’s milk cheese from Jura, France, similar to a Swiss Gruyere, with a dark nutty flavor
- Chèvre du Haut Bearn- an aged goat’s milk cheese from Pyrenees, France, with bright, tart, and salty flavors
The spicy notes of the beer from the pink peppercorn really worked well to balance out both cheeses. My favorite pairing was the chèvre, but the crowd favorite, by a long-shot, was the Comté. What can I say? I’m a sucker for salty cheeses!
Next we transitioned to a sour beer, the Diagonal. This is a more experimental beer fermented with lactobacillus as well as chamomile lemon verbena. This gives it an herbal back bone to complement the tart and sour notes.
The Diagonal was paired with two local cheeses:
- Lea’s Great Meadow- a goat’s milk cheese from Ruggles Hill Creamery in Hardwick, MA, a soft creamy cheese with an herbaceous undertone
- Verano- a hard sheep’s milk cheese from Vermont Shepherd in Putney, VT, with a tanginess and saltiness that paired very nicely with the tart Diagonal
I absolutely loved the floral/herbal goat cheese but, unfortunately, my friend’s husband stole the rest of my piece! Luckily I was able to drown my sorrows in more beer (and cheese)!
From sour and tangy we moved on to a darker, sweeter beer, the Trifecta Belgian Ale, my personal favorite of the night. This is brewed with three Trappist yeasts with the addition of vanilla beans (what a wonderful idea!). The result is a wonderful smooth, fruity and crisp beer.
The two cheese pairings were:
- Tunworth- a super gooey, strong, creamy, wash-rind cow’s milk cheese from Herrland Hampshire, UK,(my favorite of the night)
- Ouleout- a soft cow’s milk cheese from Vulto Creamery in Hamden, VT with a touch of funk
Everyone loved the creamy Tunworth and I couldn’t stop eating it the rest of the night!
The final beer of the night was the 87, their double IPA. Brewed with “tons” of American hops, this beer is a little more textural and sweeter than the previous beers. A touch of bitterness pairs it well with salty, strong blue cheese.
- Bayley Hazen Blue- a cow’s milk blue cheese from the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, VT, very similar to a Stilton but cheaper and made locally!
- Colston Bassett Stilton- cow’s milk from Neal’s Yard Dairy, UK, the “king of cheese”, a classic blue cheese with rich flavors, high in salt
Overall, it was a fantastic night full of good beer and cheese (and a Taylor Swift after hours dance party) led by the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff from Night Shift Brewing and Formaggio Kitchen. If you missed this event, Formaggio Kitchen has several more beer and cheese classes this summer featuring several different local breweries. And don’t forget to check out the tap room at Night Shift Brewing!