June has been equally exhausting and exciting. It feels wrong to complain and gripe about drinking lots of beer, especially when some of that was done during Mondial. And though part of me would have rather been sitting on my lazy butt, I had already bought my ticket and therefore had to go to the beer and cheese tasting at the Leslieville Cheese Market. I am very particular about my cheeses – nothing too stinky or intense – so the night was really about testing my limits. My knowledge about cheese is very basic, meaning I knew even less about how to pair it with beer. Education and intoxication, rolled up into one!
The pairings were arranged my Sam Corbeil, a brewer at Mill Street, who also served as host. The first pleasant surprise was that he didn’t just pick a bunch of Mill Street brews, but four Ontario beers and one special international offering. The first beer was Beau’s Lug Tread, paired with a caprese salad on a stick. The grassy qualities of Beau’s worked well with the basil, while the bocconcini and light malts provided a nice backdrop. A perfect light start.
The True North Copper Altbier was next, a local beer that I actually haven’t tried. Sam said he started with these two beers as a comparison between German styles that originated in single towns (kolsch in Koln and alt in Dusseldorf). A very malty beer, with some hazelnut and raisin. The pairing with the creamy Corsu Vecchiu was perfect. The nuttiness of the cheese matched the beer perfectly. Splendid.
Going back to a lighter style, the Black Oak Summer Saison was matched with a dried apricot stuffed with Prestige goat cheese. The Summer Saison tastes really peachy to me, so this was obviously another matched based on similar tastes. And while it did work, I felt the apricot overpowered the cheese. Instead of the saltiness of the cheese contrasting the sugars of the beer, my palate was overloaded with sweetness. The Summer Saison was a big hit, with lots of people asking for directions to the Black Oak brewery in Etobicoke.
Sam said the Mill Street Schleimhammer Roggenbier reminds him of banana bread and matched the beer with applewood smoked cheddar wrapped in Westphalian ham for this reason. The Roggenbier does nothing for me, which meant that the pairing was going to have to wow me. Instead, the cheese and meat completely dominated the Roggenbier, leaving me barely able to taste the beer afterwards.
The best surprise of the night were the two bottles of Panil Barriquée that Sam pulled out for the last pairing. He did his best to prepare everyone for the unique sour qualities of the Panil, which was paired with cheese and a date. I thought it was ambitious to try and match cheese with a Flanders red, but Sam pulled it off. The sweet date combined with some salty Le Migneron Charlevoix cheese really helped open up and enhance the beer (which was absolutely fabulous on its own). A nice finish.
After going to a lot of events that were ripe with beer geeks, it was interesting to see a crowd of people with a wide range of beer knowledge. Lots of people obviously liked beer, but probably hadn’t been exposed to much local craft beer. (Sample question asked: Can you get any Black Oak beers at the LCBO? Obviously that person doesn’t read my blog and continuous plugging of the Black Oak Pale Ale. Shame on him.) A lot of couples were there, though I couldn’t tell if the men were dragging the women out or if it was the other way around. Because of this, Sam spent a lot more time talking about the beer, which was interesting but didn’t gain me a lot of new information. I was hoping to learn more about the cheeses and what styles they worked with, but still left knowing more than when I arrived. And I was really glad there was no blue cheese served.
Today: 600mL. Year-to-date: 129.87L.
And now there are two months left to go! The daily grind is definitely getting to me at this point. No surprise, June set a new record for most beer consumed in a month. With Mondial and OCB Week driving up my beer intake, 20L of beer passed through my gullet. Soph has already started saying things like, “You should drink less once this blog thing is over.” Maybe July will bring the third act, complete with relationship strife leading to a miraculous epiphany. I can literally cry into my beer! Will I get a book deal through any other means?