Village 6 Year Old Cheddar and Strange Fellows Talisman Pale Ale: For this beer and cheese pairing I decided to put a pale ale and aged cheddar togeother, which is a standard favourite and a good go-to pairing option for any occasion. Pale Ales, Amber Ales and Red Ales all tend to pair up quite nicely with sharp cheddar’s and the aged one’s are often the sharpest. This is a great pairing for your first beer and cheese pairing and is always worth revisiting from time to time thereafter, I truly wish more restaurants offered pairings like this one as an appetizer as it’s a perfect way to start a culinary exploration.
Overview of the BC Cheese Makers and Brewers: I’ve previously paired two other Village Cheese Company cheeses with BC beers (the Amber Ale Cheese and the Maple Cheddar) so I won’t repeat any information on the cheese maker other than the fact that they are located in Armstrong, BC and have a really interesting lineup of regular and flavoured artisan cheese varieties. Be sure to give them a try next time you see their offerings in your local grocery store, or take some home if you’re a tourist. The beer in this pairing is made by Strange Fellows Brewing who have operated a brewery since late 2014 in the Yeast Vancouver district of Vancouver, BC with a regularly rotating lineup of beers on tap, an intentionally crooked sign out front and some really cool art in their tasting room. This place is very cool and totally worth a visit every now and then, even just to see what they’ve come up with in the tasting room both in front and behind the bar.
The Beer: Talisman Pale Ale is a year round offering from Strange Fellows Brewing that comes in at a perfectly sessionable strength of 4.2% abv and a moderate 29 IBUs worth of hops. The beer has a very fruity aroma with big notes of tangerine, passion fruit and grapefruit citrus on the main part of the nose, followed by quaffs of grains, fresh wildflowers, honey and lemon near the sides of the glass. When tasting the beer, Talisman starts out with some soft grains, light bready malts and a lemon citrus and grapefruit juice middle that is nuanced with a herbal pine resinous finish accompanied by some dry grains on the aftertaste. This is a really nice Pale Ale and I have a lot of appreciation for a fully flavoured, lower alcohol beer like this one.
The Cheese: I personally love aged cheddar’s (who doesn’t right?) and this was superb. It has a broth-like aroma, featuring notes of leeks, cauliflower, hay, dried bread crumbs and floral overtones all over the surface of the cheese. The flavour is fairly sharp, but also contains hints of nuts, caramelized onions, leeks, broth, and cauliflower all spread out over a pasty texture that contains little crunchy bits and a soft buttery note on the finish. I’ve had lots of different aged cheddar’s and I can safely say that this one is up there with the best of them.
The Pairing: Overall, the cheese benefited the most from the pairing, and while the beer didn’t necessarily improve it still changed quite a bit and made for an interesting pairing experience. When the cheese was paired with the beer, it developed some phenomenal vanilla notes, mild toffee malts, big sharp cheddar expressions and hints of burnt onion enveloped in a creamier, less pasty texture than the naked cheese. The beer lost a lot of its fruit notes, however the delicious herbs and pine resin were significantly embellished during the pairing while the grains smoothed out and some hidden notes of black tea leaves appeared on the aftertaste. It was almost like drinking a completely different beer, a more herbal bitter and resinous counterpart of itself that was more refreshing than the original version despite losing some of the fruity esters and citrus hop flavours.
Overall Rating: Excellent at 8/10, I love it when beer and cheese interact so well.
Strange Fellows know’s their cheeses and meats as they feature a weekly charcuterie board in their tasting room. If you want to try beer, cheese and meat parings they are a great place to try out a few different options in one sitting. In their Facebook Page post below, they are sampling some other local cheeses with their beers to see which one’s to add to the regular lineup – must be tough work!