During quarantine in NYC, grocery shopping is one of the most exciting things I can do! I was browsing some specialty items at the store and spotted Brooklyn Cured (shop local!) Belgian ale and lemon zest sausage. Since I had just received my copy of That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life this beer-y sausage inspired a cheesy experiment. Two cheeses, some accoutrements, and a single beer. Which pairing will reign supreme?! (said in my best Alton Brown Iron Chef voice…)
I spent some extra time making the plate look pretty including a “sausage river” described in the book because, hey, all I have is time!
Buttermilk Blue Cheese – This is a tangy but not too sharp blue with a dry crumbly texture.
Double Cream Brie – A bloomy rind cheese that most expresses deep milk and butter flavors, holds its shape but is still spreadable.
English Cucumbers – These seedless cucumbers have a grassy floral rind surrounding a less intense flesh. The smaller cucumbers have less water so they pack more flavor but remain cooling and light.
Belgian Ale & Lemon Sausage – Tons of fat in this sausage but it’s kept somewhat light with a zing of lemon. All I can taste of the Belgian beer is a hint of white pepper.
Dried Cranberries, Almonds & Cashews – The unseasoned nuts add crunch and their bland flavor can balance out intense cheeses. The lightly sweetened cranberries are still tart without being harsh.
Chimay’s Trappist Tripel also called Cinq Cents strikes the signature Belgian tripel balance between sweet and bitter. The aroma is of white raisins and a subtle note of grassy hay while the flavor is lightly sweetened bread dough mingling with mild herbal and apricot notes and a quite strong bitterness at the finish. The towering head is a good indication of the high level of carbonation in this one. Also, a $1 cheaper than Westmalle tripel at my grocery store…hurrah!
This one was heavy on the fat with a slice of the sausage topped with a schmear of brie. To lighten up the cracker I added some sweet tart cranberries.
Why the Pairing Might Work
The brie’s flavor is so subtle that it will only present an unctuous layer of creamy fat here, add the rich sausage and there’s some weight to balance the bitterness and carbonation of the beer. But the dry fruit and the citrus notes of the sausage should pull forward the fruit flavors in the beer and break it out of just appearing as sweet.
We’re going heavy on herbal tang! The blue cheese already has a hidden grassy flavor that the cucumber skin reveals beautifully. The water of the cucumber keeps things from being too intense.
Why the Pairing Might Work
Tangy blue cheese should accentuate the slightly acidic character of the tripel and pull forward some of the fruitier yeast aromas. The bitterness of the beer will find a partner in the dry cheese and will need the sweet malt to level things out.
Cracker #1 was so far the superior that it was hard for me to remember why I thought cracker #2 might work in the first place! Alone the cracker is a bit heavy edging on oily and the cranberry is hidden behind all that body. With the beer everything enters harmony, the cranberry has a definite impact and the cheese and sausage go from greasy to luxurious when they meet the effervescence of the beer. Brava! I definitely suggest giving this pairing a try.
About Brooklyn Cured
I love discovering a local business and from what I can tell Brooklyn Cured is a fun one. I’m not sure how far they distribute but their boozy salamis would definitely be a more fun addition to a cheese plate at a party than a standard cured meat…..when we go to parties again of course, le sigh.