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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
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Assemble a good selection of cheese from each category-four to six varieties of cheese-for a catered event pairing cheese and beer. Or, a vertical tasting platter might include several examples of a similar style, such as ripened Brie, Surface-ripened Brick and Gorgonzola.

Mild, bland crackers-water crackers, bread or toast rounds-are the best accompaniment. In general, start with more subtle cheeses and light-bodied beer, and progress to the more intense, full-flavored combinations.

1) Mascarpone: A buttery soft spreadable Italian-style cheese, Mascarpone is sweet, fresh and versatile as an ingredient in desserts, soups, pastas, polenta, dips and more. Mascarpone cheese, spread on whole-grain crisp bread and topped with sliced radishes, or dipped onto the tip of a daikon radish stick, makes a fast bar snack.

Pair Mascarpone with a complex fruity ale, such as a Belgian-style saison brewed with a bit of wheat malt for tangy flavors to contrast with the buttery richness of the cheese.

2) Fresh Mozzarella: Ideal for salads, salsas and pasta dishes. Made from cow's milk, this cheese is packed in water for freshness. It has a delicate, milky flavor, porcelain white appearance, and springy texture.

Skewers of Mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes make a colorful appetizer.

A toasty, rich dark lager, brewed with black patent and chocolate malts, contrasts with the sweet dairy flavors of the fresh Mozzarella.

3) Brie: A creamy, soft-ripened cheese that, when perfectly ripe, will be spreadable at room temperature. Sold in full wheels, or cut into wedges. A chalky center indicates an immature Brie. Brie's rich taste notes are both buttery and woodsy, reminiscent of mushrooms
(especially when tasted with the snow-white, edible rind).
Sample wedges of ripened Brie with other fruits, such as grapes or figs, to heighten the contrast in flavors.

Cherry ale is a Belgian-style kriek ale (traditionally brewed with wild yeasts and aged hops) and infused with both delightful color and bouquet by the addition of fresh, sour cherries. The fruity, sweet taste of the beer goes well with the ripened Brie.

4) Gorgonzola and Blue: Noted for its distinctive, sharp flavor, Blue is marbled with streaks of edible blue-green mold. Blue can be soft and spreadable, or firm and crumbly. Gorgonzola is an Italian-style veined cheese, with a buttery-yellow, tangy cow's milk base.
Present a platter of rich, veined cheeses with walnuts and pears -- a European tradition.

A robust, yeasty ale in the Trappist brewing style is aged and bottle-conditioned (extra yeast added just at bottling), so it has a stronger, almost vinous, flavor that harmonizes with the distinctive mold-ripened cheese taste.

5) Surface-ripened Brick: A Wisconsin original, Brick cheese has a mild and mellow flavor that becomes more pungent with age. Surface Ripened Brick is washed with a special smear of cultures to produce its distinctive taste and aroma. Excellent for table use, cooking and melting.

In Wisconsin, grainy hot mustard and sliced onions top an open-faced sandwich of pumpernickel and surface-ripened Brick -- a tavern favorite.

A pale ale with a hoppy, citric taste balances with the creamy, mellow taste of Brick.

6) Hot Jalapeno and Habanero Pepper Monterey Jack Cheeses: Wisconsin cheesemakers add several kinds of hot peppers to heighten the creamy flavor of Monterey Jack. Terrific as a topper for grilled meats and rustic sandwiches, Hot Pepper Monterey Jack is easily sliced, shredded or cubed.

A strong bottle-conditioned ale, brewed as a "winter warmer" with twice the usual amount of malt and ample dry-hopping, matches the searing flavors of the hot peppers.

7). Smoked Gouda: The level and intensity of smoky flavor varies by brand, but all smoked Gouda are a bit firmer and nuttier tasting than the regular Gouda, which tastes light, buttery and slightly nutty. Processed smoked Gouda is presented as a spread.

A Bock beer is a malty and very rich flavored lager, brewed as a "warming" beer for consumption on cold spring days. It has a strong, intensely toasted flavor that counterbalances the smoky tang of the Gouda.

8) Gruyère and Aged Swiss: Renowned for its "eyes," Swiss is a semi-soft cheese that can become more flavorful and firm with age. Color ranges from ivory to gold, and will be darker if it is smoked. Excellent sliced, or grated and melted into sauces. Likewise, Gruyère is a versatile cheese, most often used in fondues and toppings, where its nutty, gently fruity flavor is accentuated by heating.

Make the most of the "eyes" in Swiss cheese by skewering cheese cubes with pretzel sticks -- for a competely edible pick!

A white beer is spiced with coriander, orange peels and other exotic ingredients unexpected in beer. The crisp wheat beer base and spiciness yield to a honeyed aftertaste, perfect for the nutty sweetness of Aged Swiss and Gruyère cheeses.

9) Provolone: Depending upon its age, Provolone may be mild and buttery, or sharp and tangy, or even smoky. It has a distinctive creamy white color and hand-molded shape. Makes a fabulous pizza topping, or presented with Italian antipasto ingredients, such as pickled pepperoncini or sliced salami and prosciutto.

Vienna-style red lager tastes warm, clean and somewhat malty, and its bready flavor complements the more assertive Sharp Provolone.

10) Aged Cheddar: Aged Cheddar has a full, aromatic Cheddar nose and develops a nut-like flavor, while retaining its buttery richness. Texture becomes drier and more crumbly with age. Color ranges from orange-gold to ivory. Varied shapes and styles available.

A dark stout with a rich, somewhat espresso taste and deep color from black and chocolate barley malts, can stand up to assertive cheeses, such as Aged Cheddar.

11) Asiago and Parmesan: Asiago is pure-white, firm and somewhat grainy-textured cheese, with a full, sharp flavor, reminiscent of a Cheddar.

Parmesan is buttery-gold, hard and crumbly. An Italian-style cheese that, when aged, has a distinctively sharp and piquant taste, as well as a rich, somewhat oily and crumbly texture. Young Parmesan is tangy and easily cut into chunks for tasting, while older Parmesan is most often grated.

A Marzen lager has a pale bronze color and warming malt taste, from its somewhat higher alcohol content. It is a little spicy and goes well with these Italian hard cheeses.

12) Aged Cheddar - A lovely three-year old Cheddar, crumbly and white, goes well with an extremely hoppy IPA (for contrast), or a nutty brown ale (for complement).

Get a "A Sampler's Guide to Wisconsin Specialty Cheese and Craft Beer" about pairing Wisconsin specialty cheeses and craft beer, by writing to: Brochure Request #8146, Attn: WMMB, 8418 Excelsior Drive, Madison, WI 53717.

Learn about other beer and cheese pairings, such as Fred Eckhardt at Rogue's Flanders Pub in Portland, OR.


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