Aged hard cheeses with all their crunchy salt crystals and powerful flavors are my favorite! I got so excited by an almost three year aged gouda that I decided to make it the center of the pairing, instead of a beer style. Two beers, one cheese, let’s see!
The Cheese – 1,000 Day Aged Gouda
If I haven’t personally told you before, let me say it now. Trader Joe’s cheese section is full of unbelievable bargains! Of course, it’s great to support our local cheese producers when possible (my TJ’s carries Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, so sometimes it’s possible to do both at the same time!) but if you’re ever shopping for a large board or looking to try something new without breaking the grocery budget the TJs cheese case is a great place to do it.
This gouda was aged 1,000 days – yes, almost three YEARS – and a good sized hunk was just under $5. During those 1,000 days the cheese develops intense nuttiness (like toasted walnuts or fresh hazelnuts), a deep color, and my favorite crunchy salt crystals. Since so much moisture leaves the cheese during aging there isn’t a ton of dairy flavor or butteriness but there is a hint of butterscotch, especially when the cheese has a chance to warm in your mouth.
Lagunitas Imperial Stout
It has been SO long since I’ve had a stout over 7% that is just a stout, no added flavors. A true treat! This one has lots of bittersweet chocolate, subtle coffee, and roast flavors – all created by hops, malt, and yeast. Who does that anymore?!
Why the pairing might work
This beer is high up on the intensity scale. All that roast and bittersweet flavor will stand up to the intense nuttiness and saltiness of the cheese. Plus the subtle alcoholic warming might bring forward some more of those sweeter butterscotch notes. My one concern: Sometimes when roast hits salt, it tastes a little like metal, let us see!
Weihenstephaner Vitus Weizenbock
One of the only widely available blonde weizenbocks out there! I love this beer with its potent candied banana aroma and noticeable alcohol impression (even though it’s only 7.7%). These is still some smooth creaminess from the wheat even with the high carbonation of this beer, a master class in balance!
Why the pairing might work
What is better than a banana bread filled with toasted, candied nuts!? I’m thinking these flavors will combine allowing the beer to smooth out some of the intensity of the cheese and provide a sweet impression from all the banana flavors. Banana nut muffins are my favorite so fingers crossed!
And the winner is….
The imperial stout made all of my flavor pairing dreams come true. The toast and roast cut through the strong saltiness letting more of the nutty, butterscotch flavors shine through. What I didn’t expect is how much almond and hazelnut flavor the cheese brought forward in the beer. It’s a memorable flavor interaction because it was so unexpected!
Sadly, the cheese was just too extreme for the Vitus. When eaten with the beer, the beautiful, smooth banana flavors were all but erased. A thousand days of aging is no joke when it comes to flavor development!
A Note on Pairing with Gouda
If you’re building a cheese board around a very aged gouda there is one condiment I swear by: honey butter. It’s so easy to make! One part honey to three parts room temperature butter. I warm up the honey for just a few seconds on 50% in the microwave so it’s easy to whip into the butter with a fork. The sweetness of the honey and the extra fat from the butter bring these super salty nutty cheeses to life! It’s almost like tasting it if it hadn’t been aged quite as long. It’s a winner every time for sure. Cheers!