The folks over at Cabot Cheese have posted an introduction to pairing beer / cider and cheese. Their advice?
- Chill out: Let both your beer/cider and your cheese rest out of the refrigerator for an hour before serving so the full-bodied taste of both can develop.
- Don’t overwhelm: When pairing different ciders or beers with cheese, less is often more. Offer only a few choices of both, to get the full enjoyment from the tasting.
- Light to heavy: When you’re pairing, serve lighter cheeses and beers or ciders with a lower alcohol content before moving on to heavier tastes and higher alcohol content brews.
- Keep it simple: If you’re going to serve cheese on a cracker or bread, make sure you use something with a neutral taste like a water cracker or a baguette. Flavored crackers or breads can overwhelm the true flavors of your beer and cheese pairings.
- Be adventurous: Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to pairing beer or cider with cheese. The best possible pairing is one that you love.
And they’ve got plenty of suggestions for specific pairings for beverages from Vermont and elsewhere (hint: if you want a whole lot of Cabot Cheese to use in pairing experiments, check out their Annex Store in Waterbury).
Of course, Cabot Cheese enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who love the taste of cheese with favorite beers, and ciders. Here’s what William MacNeill (co-owner of Hen of the Wood) told the Vermont Fresh Network about cider and cheese pairings earlier this fall:
Hard cider is a naturally pairing jack of all trades! It's pretty easy to find food that tastes great with cider, whether you're drinking at a midweek dinner or a celebratory feast. Cider's naturally occurring low alcohol & carbonation help tremendously! Cider can add a little light to heavy meal or great complexity to a light meal. Its natural fruitiness pairs as well with pork as it does with a green salad. Cider also plays extremely well with Vermont cheese! Many drier styles of cider pair beautifully with rich, buttery cheeses (think cheddar, gouda or a creamy blue), while the big apple flavors of semi-sweet cider is gorgeous with fresh or soft-ripened cheeses. The old 'rule of thumb' that was taught to us day one in culinary school is that if two things come from the same region, they will naturally pair together.
If you're looking for more ideas, some of your favorite cheesemakers might have their own suggestions, like these from Vermont Creamery and Vermont Farmstead Cheese. DigInVT offers a suggested trail for trying out local beers with Shelburne Farms cheese. And of course if you’re visiting some of these locations (or you just like geographical simplicity) you can peruse our map of Vermont breweries, cideries, and cheesemakers.
Late autumn is the perfect time to explore how well Vermont cheese, beer, and cider go together!