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Friday, February 24, 2012

Fort George Stout Night

We stopped into the Belmont-Station recently to check out the Fort George Stout night. Fort George was pouring four new stouts as part of the Belmont-Station's "Bigger Badder Blacker Beer Week," a week celebrating the stout style beer.

The late great Michael Jackson's definition of a stout (from the Beer Hunter website) is as follows:
An extra-dark, almost black, top-fermenting brew, made with highly roasted malts. Sweet stout, an English style, is typified by Mackeson, which has only about 3.75 percent alcohol by volume in its domestic market but more than 5 in the Americas. Sweet stout usually contains milk sugars (lactose), and is a soothing restorative. Dry stout, the Irish style, is typified by Guinness, which comes in at around 4 percent in the British Isles, a little more in North America and as much as 8 in tropical countries. Dry stouts sometimes contain roasted unmalted barley. Imperial Stout, originally brewed as a winter warmer, for sale in the Tsarist Russian Empire, is medium dry and distinguished by its great strength: anything from 7 to more than 10.
I have always been a fan of the Fort George Brewery, and was pleased to try out a flight of their stouts. Furthermore, this flight gave a great introductory course into what the flavor spectrum of a stout beer can be.

Many of the beers we tasted were not listed on Rate Beer's website; however, I did add the ones not mentioned, so if you have tasted them, you should log in and rate them so they can get scored. Untappd does have them all listed, and I was very proud of my fellow Portlanders, who were also out tasting during the Fort George Stout night, and dutifully checking in their beers on the Untappd app - a toast to that! 

Pairing cheese with stout beer can be tricky, but when you find the right combination you will be very happy with the results. The Belmont-Station offers an artisan cheese plate with rotating cheese varieties. Friday's choices were a raw cow's milk Raschera, a raw sheep's milk Tomme, and a goat milk cheese called Mt. Zion.

Cheese and beer pairings.

Raschera paired with the Bourbon Barrel Cavatica Stout. Since the Bourbon Barrel is definitely a “big” stout, I was skeptical if it would work with a milder flavor cheese; however, this stout paired with Raschera cheese very nicely. Raschera is a semi-hard cheese with a salty taste I can relate to a Muenster cheese. This savory cheese held up to the strong flavor profiles of the Bourbon Barrel, making a nice beer and cheese pairing.

Tomme (pictured on the left) has a creamier texture and coats the entire mouth with a light, yet complex, flavor. It paired best with the Polish’s Black Walnut Stout, helping to mask that smoky flavor and enhance its woodsy taste. While this cheese paired well with stout, I think it would be a crowd pleaser no matter what beer you are drinking. I'm planning to try it again soon, and I will report back as to what beers pair with this cheese.

Another cheese we had was the Ferns Dairy Mt. Zion goat cheese. This was a dryer and nuttier cheese that paired very nicely with the Viva La Stout. I especially enjoyed eating it with a multi-seed cracker, as it brought out both the beer and the cheese’s nutty flavors. Meghan noted that the Viva La Stout’s profile of sweet and malty flavors reminder her of a Belgian brown, which also go nicely with goat cheeses.

The Spank Stout paired with cheese did not work very well – and as a side note, it completely clashed with the brown mustard that was given to us with the cheese plate.

Overall, the cheeses were quite delicious with our beers. While they were not made to specifically be beer and cheese pairings, we were both pleasantly surprised they did pair so nicely together. Let us know how your stout pairings go, and feel free to give us suggestions to what beer and cheese pairings you find most delicious!

Our experience at the Belmont-Station in Portland was lovely. The staff was able to answer our questions about the beers we tasted, and we were both happy they respect beer enough to serve it properly (have you ever ordered a stout somewhere only to have the bartender pull out a glass they’ve had “chilling” in the fridge/freezer – it just makes me cringe!). Also, the Belmont-Station may still have some of these beers on draught – I would recommend you call them first before heading down (that being said, they always have great beers there, so you won’t be disappointed if they happen to be out of the one beer you want to try!).

{ prost! }

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