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Beer & Cheese Pairing at Sheffield Food Festival

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Ahead of our Beer and cheese pairing session on the 2nd day of Sheffield Food Festival  I'm enjoying a beer back at home, reflecting, after a full day chatting to a whole bunch of lovely people who came by our stall today. We brought a varied cross section of different beer styles and breweries to the festival; from local favourites (Bradfield and Thornbridge), to Sheffield newbies (North Union), Trappist classics, Danish sour - an Evil Twin Berliner Weisse to hopped up American IPAs from Firestone Walker AND more. I've loved the response, it's been great - from people looking to try something new or just partaking in a familiar favourite. Yet, what I've appreciated the most is the huge enjoyment beer brings. It puts a big warm smile on your face. Let's raise a glass to that!

Another dimension to notch up that enjoyment of beer is pairing it with food and Sunday's session is all about trying it with cheese. If you think about it there's a natural affinity there. Both have a common starting source - with beer, barley and wheat (both members of the grass family) and cheese - milk producing animals feed on grass. You often find farmer's collecting spent grains from breweries to feed their livestock too -  the cycle keeps going round. 

On a personal level, I often find that due to the breadth and complexity of beer styles it makes it easier (and more satisfying) to find a partner to your meal. I've included a table below featured in a blog post from beer writer Mark Dredge - take a look at his beer blog HERE, and I'd hugely recommend picking up his books on beer and food. 

Everyone's palate is different and each individual has a preference whether it's a rich dark imperial stout or a tart mouth-puckering gueuze or a malt driven pale ale. So as an individual you'll naturally sway to your tastes. But one way to really help develop what flavours you're picking up and explore what your taste buds are telling you is the ability to describe what your experiencing. I've included a copy of Mark's 'Beer Flavour Wheel' below - take a sip of your next beer and start in the middle - if you've a US hopped beer what aromas and flavours are you discovering (herbal? pine?). Once you begin to pinpoint some of these flavours it'll really help you start to match a tasty food pairing. 

After all that reading - I bet you're dying to just drink a beer and eat some cheese!

So after many weeks of 'research' myself and Anchorage finally settled on this little selection of 5 beer and cheese pairings. Give them a try in the demo, and let us know what you think:

1. Starnachas (Swiss) cheese & Anchorage 'Session IPA' (4.8%)

2. Chevre (France) goats cheese & Kyuichi Brewery 'Hitachino Nest White Ale' (5.5%)

3. Truffle noir (Holland) Gouda & Abbeydale 'Midnight Special' Porter (4.8%)

4.  Fourme D'ambert (French) blue cheese & Mad Hatter Brewing 'Liverpool Tart' (4.2%)

5.  Picos de Europa (Spanish) blue cheese & Trappistes Rochefort 'Rochefort 10' (11.3%)

Here's 3 from the above explained in a little more detail: 

Chevre with Kiuchi Brewery - Hitachino Nest White Ale

Type: Semi-soft

Age: 4 months

Produced: Northern France, produced by Soignon, Generic area of production

Milk: Pasteurised Goats cheese

Flavour: Tangy, Earthy, lightly tart

This is a classic example of Chevre – younger, fresh Goats Cheese.  Lower in fat and often used by dieters.  Production is seasonal from March – October.  We chose this as it had a very creamy texture, blending well with the carbonation of the Wheat beer

Wheat beer and Goats cheese is one of the best known cheese and beer matches and with very good reason.  The soft and creamy texture Goats cheese combines brilliantly with the wheat flavour and lift each other.  


Brewery               Kiuchi Brewery

Beer       White Ale

Beer Style            Belgian style white ale

abv         5.5%

Origin    Kounosu, Japan


Tasting Notes:     Hitachino Nest White Ale is brewed in the tradition of a Belgian style white beer with coriander, nutmeg, orange peel and orange juice. Malts: Lager, Wheat  Hops: Perle, Styrian Golding  Adjuncts: Flaked Wheat, Flaked Barley, Coriander, Nutmeg, Orange peel. Refreshing, mildly hopped with a complex flavour it is one of Hitachino's top-selling beers.

About:    The Kiuchi Brewery was established in 1823 by Kiuchi Gihei, the headman of Kounosu village. His family was collecting rice from farmers as land taxes for the Mito Tokugawa family and began his brewery with the idea of using the remaining rice stocks from the warehouse. In the 1950's, Mikio Kiuchi inherited the brewery legacy. It was the time when the sake industry flourished as the rapid growth of Japan's economy after the World War II. Although many sake breweries started mass producing low quality sake due to increased demand, Kiuchi Brewery maintained their policy of pursuing the best quality of sake with the optimum ingredients and craftsmanship.In 1996, Kiuchi started brewing HITACHINO NEST BEER and, in subsequent years, has gained international acclaim and winning numerous awards. Kounosu is about 1 hours drive north of Tokyo.


Truffle Noir and Abbeydale Brewery - Midnight Special

Type: Semi Hard

Produced: Northern Holland

Milk: Pasteurised cows Milk

Aged: 12 months

Flavour: Creamy, slight caramel sweetness, light – medium body.  Strong intense flavour of Truffles coming through in part as well

Texture: firm, not crumbly

Truffle Noir is a very special Cheese, it’s a Dutch Gouda style, but is specked with Italian Summer Truffle making it a very luxurious experience.  Gouda cheese is named after the Dutch town of Gouda as this is where it was traditionally traded.  Gouda can be quite a light inexpensive cheese but when aged like this is becomes deeper with a distinct umami character. 

The Gouda offers a rich and creamy body that combines well with the wheat and roasted malt in the porter with the intensity of the truffle really lifting the combination.  It’s the two notes of nature that match making it really pop. 


Brewery               Abbeydale

Beer       Midnight Special

Beer Style            Porter

abv         4.8%

Origin    Sheffield, UK

Tasting Notes: After a recent trip to Founders Brewery in Michigan in the US, Patrick & Sue (co-directors) witnessed a lot of American brewers using roasted wheat malt to add lots of dark colour to beers without imparting an intense bitterness often associated with using black malt. The use of Midnight Wheat gives a subtle roasted flavour without the intense bitterness of black malt. The late addition of Cascade and Amarillo hops from America adds a pleasing dimension to this porter.

About:  Patrick, Abbeydale's co-Director, started his working life in his father's Scissor works. He used to make beer at home using full mash brews. In the early nineties he was offered a job as a brewer at Kelham Island Brewery where he stayed until leaving to start up Abbeydale - in 1996. Their identity is inspired by their location - being named after the district that runs along the Sheaf Valley towards the old abbey at Beauchief. The logo of the brewery itself being inspired by the frontage of the Beachief Abbey.


Fourme D’Ambert cheese with Mad Hatter Brewing -  Liverpool Tart

Type: Semi-Hard Blue Cheese

Milk: Unpasteurised Cows Milk

Aged: 4 months

Flavour: Rich, intense + salty

Texture: Supple and dense (unusually for a blue Cheese)

One of the oldest cheeses in France and still produced using traditional methods in Auvergne, France.  This is an excellent example and comes from a small

tisanal producer for an excellen cheese. A Blue Cheese with the distinctive flavours of the Roquefort Mold which gives it enough power to match with stronger and more distinctive beer. Here we've matched it with the unusual and interesting Liverpool Tart a Gose style, where the tart character of the beer blends in well with the intense flavours and saltiness of the chees. Making the flavours last longer together on the palate.  


Brewery               Mad Hatter Brewing

Beer       Liverpool Tart

Beer Style            Gose

abv         4.2%

Origin    Liverpool, UK


Tasting Note: A perfectly balanced Gose based on the traditional Scouse sweet treat. Pale in look, aromas of peaches and apricot with a sharp, crisp and zesty flavour profile. The tang of salt halts the sweetness and gives a satisfying finish. Medium effervescence and mouthfeel, aroma  with focus on fruity note plus Citra hops and coriander adding to lemon note. No bitterness on the palate just sour spiciness overlaid by complex array of banana, green apple, dried apricot and zest. Finish crisp, dry, mouth-puckering and very refreshing - the saline characteristics particularly prominent in the dry finis and body of the bee. Often see recipes (particularly pasta dishes) using blue cheese and lemon - as the zingy lemon really matches up to the salty cheese. For simple starter try grilled asparagus sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and crumbled blue cheese. Refreshing light carbonation lifts the dense nature of the cheese - both complex flavours working in unison.

About: Gareth Matthews and his partner Sue Starling founded the Mad Hatter Brewing Company in February 2013. Constantly experimenting with flavours and combinations making this an extremely exciting brewery to follow. Liverpool tart recipe - earliest known mention from 1897, a pastry tart with lemon & dark muscavado sugar filling. Gose traditional beer style from Leipzig in Germany made with salty water.

Gose is an ancient, sour and saline tasting ale, made from more than half malted wheat and the rest malted barley. The brew is fermented with both yeast and lactic bacteria and is spiced with coriander and hop It is brewed with slightly salted water. Gose is a 1000-year old top-fermented beer style that is now most closely associated with Leipzi. Gose takes its name from the river Gose which flows through the town of Goslar, about 100 miles west of Leipzig. Goslar rose to prominence in the 11th century, not only as one of the wealthiest and most important copper, lead, zinc, salt, and silver mining towns in the German Empire, but also as a brew center.