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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cheese Paired with Winter Warmers

Written By Guest Blogger from Beer Meets Cheese, Sarah James.

Hi Ho! Sarah the blogger here, with a beer and cheese pairing news flash! Since Skye has been writing about Winter Warmer Ales all month, he thought it would be a great idea if I stepped in and suggested a cheese that pairs with Winter Warmer beer. Since I love a challenge, and this is sort of what "I do" for my blog, I was happy to take this match up on in full force.

When I think Winter Warmers, I think back to when brewer’s finished a good harvest season and decided to brew some ales with higher alcohol content in order to warm the belly during the cold winter months. While many of the Winter Warmer beers have spices added, I find that the true ones stick to darker roasted malts and little hops.

In order to pair a good cheese with this style beer, I kept in mind the cellar where many of the root vegetables and bottles of beer sit during the cold months of winter. What else sits in these cellars? Some good cheese, of course!

Sticking to this logic, I picked out a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese called Zamorano. The sheep from this region, called Churras, are used to colder and more humid climates. The cheese itself is aged in cellars in these climates – most likely sitting right alongside homemade beer, canned preserves, and root vegetables.

This hunch proved successful, for the pairing was delightful and highly recommended by Beer Meets Cheese.

So let’s discuss the details before we get too ahead of ourselves!

Beer Selection:

Pyramid Snow Cap Winter Warmer Ale

Purchased at $2.49 for a 22 ounce bottle.

Beer Highlights:

Dark mahogany color, poured a good head, but it quickly disappeared. Good lacing. Full mouth taste – bit of tangy hops, but overall a malty, caramel flavor, with hints of citrus. Good carbonation.

{ can you tell I’m a bit simple when it comes to reviews }

Cheese Highlights:

Zamorano Mitica

Purchased for $4.50 for a quarter pound (it was $18.99/pound)

Unpasteurized Sheep’s milk cheese, and made with animal rennet. Smells like a good parmesan cheese, different than a Manchego, it is a bit dryer in texture and harder. Mild flavor with grassy and nutty notes.


The nutty flavors of both the beer and cheese are enhanced with this pairing. The beer cuts through the saltiness of the cheese, leaving a lovely after taste and feel in the mouth. I wouldn’t quite place it as a “love at first bite,” but this combination will do well on a cheese plate during a winter get together. I mean, what’s better than having some friends over, drinking some Winter Warmer beers, and eating some great cheese to pair with it? I would add some dried fruit to enhance the mild citrus flavors often found in a Winter Warmer Ale, but don’t take my word for it!

{ prost! }

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