The 10-day run of PDX Beer Week concluded on Sunday and one of the last events was one of my favorites - the Beer and Cheese Fest. We attended the first year and it was great! I missed out last year due to my indecisiveness; tickets sold out and I regretted not being able to attend. This year as soon as I heard tickets were on sale I made the decision that I would be going.
As the event approached I was looking forward to being unexpectedly delighted by pairings containing beers I don't generally like on their own. Of course I was also looking forward to finding that decedent, delicious favorite that was sure to be somewhere in the bunch.
Held at The Commons Brewery for the two last years, the event temporarily moved to Burnside Brewing this year. Although not as aestetically pleasing of a location the beer and cheese (and complimentary charcuterie from Olympic Provisions) were just as tasty.
Steve Jones, owner of Cheese Bar, curated the pairings, and his talent, if not evidenced enough by the awards he's won, was displayed once again at this event. Of the 11 pairings there was only one I felt was slightly off the mark; the rest were very enjoyable. Further adding to evidence of his talents, the majority of the pairings contained a beer I didn't find enjoyable on its own.
The pairings I enjoyed the most had one similarity: the beers they contained all fell on the dark end of the color spectrum. It's hard to pick a single favorite, so I give you my top four.
The Commons Dunkelweiss + Quadrello di bufala, a water buffalo cheese (Italy)
This is a cheese I hadn't had before but the creaminess (similar to a nice Brie) and the saltiness hit all the right notes for me. The Dunkelweiss is not a style I generally like and although I enjoy Commons beers this is not one I'll be ordering on its own. Together though they were magic.
Double Mountain Carrie Ladd porter + Isle of Mull, a cow cheddar (Scotland)
The beer is a big, chocolately porter and while the cheddar was mild it had enough of a back bite to stand up to the beer. The effect was that of putting salty cream in dark, cold hot chocolate.
Lompoc Brewing BBA Dark Side Porter + Cascadia Creamery Glacier Blue (Washington)
This was the pairing I was most excited about and it didn't disappoint. The beer gave off a robust bourbon aroma that followed through in the flavor but not to the extent of being overpowering. As for the cheese, I'm a sucker for blues, especially salty, cream ones like this and I could have eaten portions of this pairing until I burst.
Gigantic Brewing Company Too Much Coffee Man Black Saison + Kirkham's Lancashire (England)
I've had and enjoyed the beer before so that half of the pairing was a slam dunk. The aroma was that of coffee creme brulee with a pleasantly slightly burnt flavor. The creaminess of the cheese continued the creme brulee-ness of the pairing.