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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Holiday Cheese Board: Great with Any Seasonal Beer

I know we discuss all things BEER here at the Jolly Good Fellows, but I come from a beer pairing background and love to match beer with a great cheese. This story is from my former blog, Beer Meets Cheese. It doesn't speak to the beer as much as the cheese - but trust me, any of your favorite holiday ales will pair pleasantly with these cheeses. Before you run out to the store for some last minute items, consider putting together this cheese board to pair with your holiday beers.

Enjoy - and let us know what beer and cheese you like to to pair for the holidays.

Picture it... Phoenix, 2011.

I’m at my in-laws house for Christmas day. All of them have heard about my blogging and my love for beer and cheese. Suddenly, the dreaded question is asked: “why don’t you make a cheese board for Christmas brunch?”

Oh, crap. Now I have to put my money where my mouth is – or some clever phrase like that.

Did I mention I’m in a dry household?

Well – at least that helps to end the fear of pairing beer with my cheese.

Now all I need is to get my cheese board together.

But we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. While one of the 5 C’s of Arizona is cattle, dairy cows are definitely NOT part of this agreement. Finally, after going to several “standard” grocery stores around the Scottsdale area, I broke down and drove the 8 miles to Whole Foods Market. I could feel the rays of light shining down from heaven as they lit my path to the cheese counter – filled with lovely gourmet cheese! Finally, I feel like I’m pack in Portland for a moment (the sunshine outside tells me otherwise, but that’s why I’m here in Phoenix to avoid the rains of an Oregon Christmas).

Selection was easy from that point – a 5 month old Manchego cheese to be paired with a pear / apple chutney (made from the gift box from Harry & David’s – thanks aunt Molly and uncle John!) was the first selection (thanks to Deborah Madison's book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone for this suggestion!).

Then I moved to my old standards, a good aged Gouda and some creamy Taleggio. From here, I was stumped… but thankfully the friendly WFM cheesemonger was there to save me!

He suggested we try La Tur, an Italian cheese made from pasteurized goat, sheep, and cow’s milks. What we discovered was love at first bite! I would describe the cheese in my own words, but I find that Murray’s Cheese shop of New York City does it the best justice:
From the great wine region of Piemonte comes La Tur: a dense, creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk. Runny and oozing around the perimeter with a moist, cakey, palette-coating paste, its flavor is earthy and full, with a lingering lactic tang. The effect is like ice cream served from a warm scoop: decadent and melting from the outside in.

Um…yes, please! I’d like to crawl into a bucket of this and not come out until the New Year… oh, wait, you mean I can do that!? Ye-es!
Seriously, spend the extra duckets to buy this cheese next time you pick up some food for a party (impressing your friends = priceless), or maybe just hoard it for yourself once your realize how delicious it is!

For pictures of the entire cheese board and brunch, please check out my Flikr page HERE.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Best Books About Beer: A Perfect Gift for the Beer Lover

Looking for a great gift for the beer lover on your list? Here are some of my favorite books about beer:

This book, organized like a hybrid dictionary/encyclopdedia, is my go to reference guide for everything about beer.

As described by the Oxford University Press website:
The first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer, The Oxford Companion to Beer features more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world's most prominent beer experts. Attractively illustrated with over 140 images, the book covers everything from the agricultural makeup of various beers to the technical elements of the brewing process, local effects of brewing on regions around the world, and the social and political implications of sharing a beer.


This book is a must have for the beginning to expert brewer. 

As described by The Complete Joy of Homebrewing website:

Charlie Papazian, master brewer and founder and president of the American Homebrewer's Association and Association of Brewers, presents a fully revised edition of his essential guide to homebrewing. This third edition of the best-selling and most trusted homebrewing guide includes a complete update of all instructions, recipes, charts, and guidelines. Everything you need to get started is here, including classic and new recipes for brewing stouts, ales, lagers, pilseners, porters, specialty beers, and honey meads. 


If you are going to own any book about beer, it should be one written by the late great Michael Jackson. The companion to beer is a nice little guide, easy to travel with, and easy to reference. The perfect book for that person who enjoys beer, but wants to learn more about different styles and new styles.


This book is for the true beer geek. It's filled with lengthy descriptions of the anatomy of beer - why is beer a certain color? What does bitterness really mean, and how is it measured? How do I have my own tasting party? All of this and much much more is included in these pages. It's also filled with some lovely illustrations, graphs, and infographics, which was wonderful for somebody like me who loves visual communication.

Enjoy finding and reading some of our favorite beer books! 

Did we miss one you love? Let us know!

{ prost! } 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beer Gifts: The Brewing Magazine

Looking for a great gift for the beer lover? How about a subscription to a brewing magazine? The homebrewer, the beer lover, and the beginning aficionado will enjoy their monthly / bimonthly news, sent straight to their doorstep. Here are a few magazine suggestions Jolly Good Fellows would like to recommend:


Draft Magazine is "America's Favorite Beer Magazine." It is filled with reviews, traveling ideas, and everything beer . 

All About Beer is a magazine that focuses on the culture of beer. Each issue includes beer and brewing news, made for the beer lover, the connoisseur, and the brewer.


Brew is one of the best resources for homebrewers of all skill levels. If you somebody who is dabbling in this hobby (or thinking about it), then this magazine is a must have resource for the brewers library.