Village Amber Ale Cheese and Driftwood New Growth Pale Ale: Continuing with my beer and cheese pairing experimentation on this blog, I managed to find a cheese that was already infused with an Amber Ale for my next beer and cheese pairing adventure. Most Pale Ales will pair up nicely with a sharp cheddar cheese, or even a slightly milder one as they are fairly versatile beers when it comes to food pairing. My intention here was to capitalize on some of the existing flavour infusion of the Amber Ale and actually work to improve the beer since sometimes cheese can have a profound effect on beer flavours, often revealing hidden tasting notes.
Overview of the BC Cheese Makers and Brewers: The Village Cheese Company makes all their cheese with Okanagan supplied whole milk, which has a short transportation time to keep it fresh, and everything from cheese making to packaging and labeling is done on site. They are an artisan cheese maker well known for their flavour infusions and quality cheeses. Driftwood Brewery is a Victoria based brewery who is famous for their Fat Tug IPA, easily the most popular year round IPA in BC. Their beer can be found anywhere in BC, and they make some good seasonal releases worth keeping an eye out for.
The Beer: This New Growth Pale Ale is revamp of their previous recipe with a newly designed label, hop profile and it is brewed to a strength of 5% abv to make it fairly drinkable. It has a nice fruity aroma featuring peaches and grapefruit citrus notes with bits of bread and tangerine on the side. In terms of flavour, I got lots of bread, pine, and a lingering grapefruit rind bitterness in this beer that lasted for quite a long time on my palate as I drank it.
The Cheese: It has 38% milk fat and 40% moisture, classifying it as a semi-soft cheese in terms of texture and hardness, which is also referred to as butter cheese. Its aroma consists of malty earth and some sharp cheddar notes with hints of spent grain from the Amber Ale. Getting into the flavour, I found it was pretty creamy in terms of texture, with a salty butter taste accompanied by a bit of bread malt, earth and some sharp cheddar notes.The beer flavour from the Amber Ale is present in the form of bread malt, but it is very, very subtle in the overall flavour profile of the cheese.
The Pairing: Both the beer and the cheese improved with this pairing. For the beer, I found that it balanced out nicely, flattening the lingering bitterness while bringing out more grapefruit citrus, hidden floral hop spice, some hidden toffee malts and revealing stone fruit peaches. Surprisingly, the cheese also got way creamier in texture, it became softer with lots of butter and earthy notes that made it quite savory. Also worth noting, the beer malt infusion wasn’t noticeable in the cheese when I paired them together.
Overall Rating: Excellent at 8/10, the beer managed to express itself much better when paired with the cheese as it brought out more flavour after bitterness was suppressed. And, somewhat surprisingly the cheese was increasingly savory, not something I really expected from this one. Mission accomplished with this pairing, very tasty indeed!
Here’s a longer video feature, that gives some great history and insight into the Village Cheese Company, their milk source and their process for making cheese.