K-I-S-S-I-N-G - Aged Sheep's Milk Cheese & Sours, Sitting in a Tree
Sipping, eating, nibbling, drinking- after instigating meticulous research in the name of beer and cheese pairing, my friends, I have arrived at a discovery. As my co-presenter Travis and I sipped our sours and wrapped up our beer and cheese pairing event at Drake's Barrel House this Saturday for SF Beer Week, we looked at each other, broke down our findings, measured a few things, used an exel spreadsheet for something or another if I remember correctly, then came to an agreement.
Or, rather, I simply turned to the very happy, lightly buzzed crowd and said, "Aged sheep's milk cheese goes awesomely with sour beers, guys."
Sharing that bit of knowledge made me feel almost as good as having my friend later feel my arm and ask if I had been working out until I figured out that she was touching the arm that had been flexed holding up a heavy glass of beer. Why?
Because artisan cheese can change from from season to season, from wheel to wheel, and from batch to batch, it can be tricky to pair to craft beers, which can morph just as quickly. So having a cheat sheet, a standby pairing to lean on, is uber helpful.
Sheep's milk fairs well with sours for two main reasons.
Why does it work?
1. You're contrasting.
Sheep's milk is higher in butterfat than cow's and goat's milk. As the milk ferments and ages into cheese, it intensifies in richness. And since cheese looses moisture, but not butterfat with age, the richness only amplifies. When paired to a sour beer, the beer's acidity is extremely helpful in cutting through some of the fat in the sheep's milk cheese like lemon does to a cream sauce. It keeps the pairing situation bright and light.
2. You're also matching.
Next, sheep's milk still retains some of it's lightly citrus character when it ages. Think of Pecorino Toscano, Everona's Piedmont, or even Abbaye de Belloc. For SF Beer Week, we paired Bellwether's San Andreas and Barinaga's Basseri with Drake's One Hit Warrant- a honey wheat aged in Chardonnay barrels with sour cherries. The lightly tart beer, and even the cherries matched the lemony citrus notes in both Basseri and San Andreas. The cheeses also went super well with Drake's Scarlett O'Bretta and Wild Hundo. And after doing much research (ahem,… tasting) I can confirm that other sours and ages sheep's milk cheeses go well together too. It's a good thing I'm here for you.
Next time you're faced with a tree trunk carved with initials, consider looking for ASC ♥s SB (Aged Sheep's Milk Cheese ♥s Sour Beer). It's likely right below Jessie declaring his love for Jenny.