Round Two – Beer & Cheese Pairing for the Holidays – 2017

If we call it tradition, then it shall be so!  2017 Second Annual Christmas Eve Beer and Cheese Pairing might have surpassed 2016 (

This is likely the case for several reasons:

  1.  anticipation;
  2. experience;
  3. better understanding of all parties involved in the “event” as to the parameters are for judging (pretty much everyone is right).

2016 focused on big stouts and 4 blue cheeses.  Fortunately, most of us like both, but neither stouts nor blue cheese are for the timid.

This year, we continued with big beers, but mixed things up a bit with 6 cheeses of different types.  From goat to sheep to cow milk cheeses, we paired up several big barrel-aged stouts.  Last year, the Cambozola was one of the favored cheeses, and it returned to the board this year, however, our conclusion was that the 2014 Firestone Walker Parabola and Roquefort was the best.  The creaminess of the Parabola, combined with the deep and complex flavors of this imperial stout paired perfectly with the creaminess and saltiness of the Roquefort. 

This year, we think the winning combo was Cigar City Marshal Zhukov with the Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar.  A close second was again, Cigar City Marshal Zhukov paired with Wegmans 18 month Gouda.

The pairings are listed below in the table comparing 2016 and 2017:

2017 Beer

2017 Cheese

2016 Beer

2016 Cheese

Firestone Walker 2017 Bravo

Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper, California, Sheep milk

2014 Firestone Walker Parabola

Crema de Blue

Firestone Walker 2016 Sucaba

Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, California, Goat milk

2016 Good People Brewing BBA El Gordo

Stilton Blue

Ommegang XV Anniversary Ale 2012

Cambozola, produced by Champignon, Bavaria, Germany

2016 Stone Brewing Oakmeal


Cigar City Hunapu 2016

Fontina, originated in Wisconsin, United States

2014 Deschutes Brewery The Abyss


Monday Night Brewing Garage Club #003 2016

Wegmans 18 Months Gouda – Medium – Holland

2013 Ommegang Duvel Rustica


Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s 2016

Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar -Oregon

As our “home-made” beer pairings go…we go off the rails fairly quickly.  As well planned as they can be, prepared, with tasting notes for beer and cheese, we find experimentation takes over.  Not sure how PBR got into the mix…o.O

Conclusions and recommendations:

  • start with the mildest beer.  Taste it, discuss it, then cleanse the palate with a neutral flavor such as an unseasoned cracker or bread;
  • taste the cheese to be paired with the beer.  Discuss it (cow, lamb, sheep – region of the world – aging, etc.).
  • sip the beer and taste the cheese and try to identify a third flavor based on the combination of the two.   Evaluate the quality of the pairing (good/bad, overpowering, etc).  There are no right or wrong answers.
  • strong flavors of beer will stand up well to strong flavors of cheese, and vice versa;
  • pairings are great fun, a way to test taste receptors and realize that we are all different;
  • trying to discuss flavors along the way is fun and engaging!




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