Moonstruck Ash Ripened Camembert & Moon Under Water Brett IPA: In this pairing, my intent was to explore how the Brettanomyces in the Farmhouse IPA mixed with some of the mild funk in a typical Camembert cheese, while also seeing how the ash interacted with the beer. I also couldn’t resist pairing two products with the word Moon in the their name together (yes, I’m a dork!).
Overview of the BC Cheese Makers and Brewers: Moonstruck Organic Cheese Incorporated is certified organic cheese maker located on Salt Spring Island, BC which has been in operation since 1998. They use milk from their purebred Jersey cows and rotate what they make based on the seasonal intricacies of the milk. For example – according to their website linked above – spring milk is best for longer aged cheeses and winter milk is better for butterfat type cheeses that are better eaten as fresh as possible. The beer in this pairing is made by Moon Under Water who operate a brewpub and brewery in Victoria, BC with a traditional German inspired regular line-up and some nice creative seasonal releases like this one.
The Beer: Hip as Funk is a hybrid beer featuring half Saison and half Brettanomyces yeast strains with some tropical hops found in many IPA’s today, which are then put together to create a fruity and mildly funky farmhouse IPA. This beer features an alcohol by volume content of 7% with 35 IBU’s giving it a tropical fruity aroma that has some cheese funk and tangerine citrus on the side. It has some nice caramel flavours and cereal grain malts with tangerine, orange and lemon citrus notes accompanied by a bit of honey sweetness and a funky blue cheese style rich finish. The beer is very interesting, I’ve had it three separate times, twice on cask and once in the bottle. The second cask was by far my favourite version of it, but this was pretty darn good too!
The Cheese: If you miss the “ash ripened” part of the label, you may think the cheese has gone bad due to grayish blue colour that lies just beneath the rind, however don’t be mistaken because that’s simply part of the process in using ash to give some contrasting flavours to the cheese (a process most often used for goat cheeses). Its aroma is fairly mild with earth, grass and a slight hint of soot whereas the flavour is more pronounced, featuring a crunchy ashy rind, grass, hay, and a little bit of salty butter with a fairly firm texture for a creamy cheese like Camembert. For any numbers people, its Milk Fat percentage is 28% and it has a moisture level of 40.3%.
The Pairing: This was an interesting pairing as the ash played into the beer and cheese quite uniquely. I found that the citrus notes in the beer were way more pronounced, enhancing the lemon citrus and tangerine significantly (two hop flavours I notice way more in dark IPA’s than I do regular ones). The funk in the beer stayed on the aftertaste, but it was less prominent while some extra honey sweet malts came through fairly strong. For the cheese, I got lots of nuts, butter, salt, earthy mushrooms and a much smoother rind as the ash mellowed in with the cheese and the malty beer. Pairing these two together really brought out the hop notes in the beer while unearthing the earthy mushroom flavours hidden in the cheese.
Overall Rating: Very good at 7.5/10, a nice pairing that encourages me to put more unique cheeses and beers together in the future.
They have a cheese club that allows you to join for free and choose your obligation based on their seasonal offerings, a program which I am going join for sure! Be sure to follow along with their Facebook Page to stay up to date with their releases.