24 March 2011
Beer and Cheese Club - March Edition
The month of March brings us a funky, spiced up Italian cheese and an equally spicy, Belgian-inspired Saison. The cheese featured this month is simply named Juni, after the juniper berries that have been added to the curd. This is a raw cow's milk cheese with a thick rind of mold. Incredibly fragrant from both the juniper berries and the rind, this cheese continues the Beer and Cheese Club into new territories with something unlike any cheese featured in previous months.
Saison de Lente, the seasonal beer from The Bruery was just released earlier this month and quickly found its way into this pairing. With a bold, spicy presence and a slightly creamy body, this beer was a natural fit for the Juni. The Brettanomyces cultures used to ferment this beer impart a wonderful complexity to the beer without imparting any sourness. If you haven't had many beers from The Bruery, this is a great one to introduce you to their Belgian-inspired catalog.
If you're a member of the Beer and Cheese Club at Goose the Market, your March installment is likely ready for you to pick up right now. If you're not a member, the club is $99 for 4 months. This month nets you 1 750mL bottle of The Bruery Saison de Lente and a massive wedge of Juni. Either of these items would be great experiences on their own, but we feel they are even better when consumed together.
The beer and cheese club is quickly becoming something I look forward to every month. This month brings us a beer from Orange County, California, and a cheese from Piedmont, Italy. Bruery’s Saison de Lente is a farmhouse ale in their seasonal collection. It ushers in spring with a generous amount of hops and a touch of Brettanomyces that keeps the beer spicy yet refreshingly subtle. The cheese is interesting mix of hard and soft featuring a rind that is fuzzy gray with bright yellow bits. If you look closely, its textured surface resembles paint on a canvas. Near the rind, the cheese is very firm, but closer to the core, it gets softer and even a bit stretchy. The cheese reminded me of fresh pineapple, both in the nose and in flavor. The juniper berries that are added in give the cheese a piney crunch. The pairing melds tangy, funky flavors in the cheese with refreshing spiciness in the beer. Thanks Goose the Market!
When we first saw the cheese, I was surprised at how tall it was. That seems like an odd first impression, but I was having trouble figuring out how I would cut it (haha, cut the cheese). The rind, while incredibly thick, is a great contrast to the soft, creamy cheese. When I placed my slice of cheese on my plate, I immediately investigated the rind. I'm no cheese expert, so I always poke around at the rind to figure out if it's edible. It certainly had the characteristics of an edible rind, but the fuzzy mold had me apprehensive. I tried a small piece and decided that this particular mold would not kill me. Or at least it hasn't yet. The rind is funky with an earthy character. It works great in compliment to the cheese, but too much by itself is a bit overpowering. The cheese has an aroma of mushrooms and juniper, quite strong on the juniper actually. It may come as a surprise how mellow the cheese is without the rind, but it is best enjoyed with a bit of the rind attached and a few chunks of juniper berries. The three elements together create a wonderful, creamy juniper-filled treat.
Saison de Lente is one of The Bruery beers I have not yet had. This is a brewery that rarely disappoints, and Saison de Lente is no exception. Notes of spicy hops, chamomile, cinnamon and grass alert the nose to how spicy this beer is going to be. In fact, it smells like it may be a bit overpowering. Luckily, a hefeweizen depth to the body balances out the burst of clove, cinnamon and lemon. At only 6.5% ABV, this beer would be great on a nice warm spring afternoon. In fact, the creamy wheat texture seems like an almost too-good-to-be-true match for the creamy interior of the Juni. The funky rind of the cheese is an excellent complement to the Brettanomyces in the beer. The juniper berries settle in like old friends of the characteristic Saison spices. Saison de Lente is briskly carbonated without being fizzy and breaks up the thick cream of the cheese very nicely, leaving behind a refreshing sensation. After trying the two together, it almost seems like Juni is the Saison of the cheese world. I love how wonderfully complimentary these two products are. Nice job!
To join the Beer and Cheese Club at Goose the Market (in conjunction with Hoosier Beer Geek), check out this PDF and then either call Goose the Market at 317-924-4944 or stop in the shop at 2503 N. Delaware St.