This was the perfect "excuse" for me to make a run out to Cheese Bar where one of Steve's wonderful staff helped me pick out three cheeses that didn't overlap with the ones Chris had mentioned bringing. Sticking with my three-cheese limit I picked up Lou Bergier Pinchin, a raw cow milk cheese that is produced using vegetable thistle rennet, Mizotte de Vendee, also a cow milk cheese but one with a white wine washed rind, and Pecora Il Tartufo, a semi-hard cheese made from sheep and cow milk with black truffles. When we showed up for the pairing I was glad I stuck to my guns because in addition to the Stilton, sharp cheddar and fruited cheese Chris mentioned he would bring, his cooler must have at least 10 more varieties. Not that you'd ever hear me complaining about too much cheese.
Our pairing started out fast and furious, a bit overwhelmed by all the goodness in front of us sort of like kids at Christmas staring at a mound of toys wrapped for them. Chris busted out the Stilton right away and with Mag grabbing a bottle of Old Schoolhouse Hooligan Stout I let the kid in me take over and went for "dessert" first. I'd had blue cheeses paired with stouts and heavy beers in the past and found them to be decadent. This pairing was no different and although it was the first of the afternoon it was one of my favorites. Stone's Suede, an Imperial Porter, and Chris' Road Runner 3.0, a sweet-ish rye beer, also went well with the assertive cheese.
Two of Chris' homebrews - Tongue Slapper IPA and Blue Footed Booby Baltic Porter - although very different beers each went well with Pecora Il Tartufo. In the case of Tongue Slapper, an IPA with outstanding bitter hop flavor, the cheese mellowed the hop bite slightly. The change to the Baltic Porter was more substantial but also more difficult to put my finger on and properly express. Let's just say that if you find yourself with some of this cheese and a Baltic Porter, give 'em a try together.
Although I'm generally not a Saison fan I've had Grassroots Brewing Artic Saison on a couple of occasions and found that it works for me. It works even better for me when paired with Lou Bergier Pichin. The effervescent beer is well balanced by the creaminess of the cheese but if you're going to try it yourself, make sure that the cheese has had enough time to warm and develop that creaminess.
There were a ton of other pairings, some as successful as these, some less successful. Never the less, an afternoon with great beer and great cheese is a plan you can't go wrong with in my book. If you've found some great pairings I'd love to hear about them. You can also check out past posts about beer and cheese pairing events (done by professionals) I've been to in case this post has sparked you interest in doing a little matchmaking yourself.