Friday, November 22, 2013

San Diego, CA: Beer and Cheese Pairings in North Park

If your idea of cheese and beer is Cheetos and Bud at a football game, think again.

Such a pairing of carefully curdled delicacies and hops has gotten much more sophisticated, as I learned at Thorn Street Brewery in North Park, which recently put on an event with Venissimo Cheese.

I was skeptical because, as I’ve admitted before, I’m not a fan of brews (yes, strike me dead for liking Corona with lime). Couldn’t I just eat the cheese? But I was intrigued, and heck, I had to wash down the cheese with something.

Turns out, I came away pleasantly surprised, because when the flavors worked together, I found beer more palatable than ever before.

We tried five Thorn Street beers: a hefeweizen, a Belgian blond ale, an extra special bitter, an IPA, and an imperial Russian stout. The cheeses, on the other hand, came from all over the world and offered their own complexity – both in texture and taste.

We savored a silky soft Brunet goat cheese from Italy (a nice match with the hef), a super stinky French Munster, a Vermont cheddar, a Minnesota ghouda, a Delice de Bourgogne triple cream from France (a hit with the IPA), a Blue cheese from New York, and an aged ghouda from the Netherlands.

Beer and Cheese??

For each pairing, Rob Graff from Venissimo offered us a slice of a different cheese, sometimes two different cheeses. Our initial impulse, before listening to instruction, was to pop the whole chunk in our mouths, because when you’re offered a delicious cheese, why put on the brakes?

Because, like a first date, a good date, anyway, it’s better to take it slow. So we followed Rob’s direction: first taste the cheese (swallow), next sip the beer (swallow), then taste the cheese again, and while it is still dancing on your tongue and flirting with your taste buds, chase it with beer.

Did I really like that extra special bitter? Me? Yes, the cheese made it palatable. Who knew?

To finish off the evening, Rob served us a dessert cheese – a sweet, droopy mango-ginger stilton from England. That we ate on its own, without beer.

I would love to see such an event in South Park. Where do you think it might work? Hamilton’s? Alchemy? Eclipse?

Photos and article courtesy of Bonnie Nicholls, the South Park Scribe, your expert on all things in South Park San Diego!

Thorn Street Brewery
3176 Thorn Street
San Diego, CA 92104

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