August Beer Pairings - The Grown Up Pizza Party by @bakerandthebeerd

Editor's Note: our friend Joe Burgers a.k.a. @bakerandthebeerd brings us his take on this month's curdbox and his beer-ish thoughts each month. If you're a fan of beer and cheese, this is the blog for you!

 

The August Curdbox is a deconstructed pizza party, and nothing pairs with pizza like a great IPA. Yes, there are plenty of great pizza beers like lagers, amber ales, and saisons; but a punchy hop presence cuts through the density of a rich, cheesy pizza like no other. Today we’ll explore 3 beautiful Italian cheeses, 3 paired spreads and meat, and 3 diverse IPAs. If I was enjoying this box casually, I would break out some flatbreads and bake a variety of cheese-spread-meat combinations, saving just a little of each cheese to taste on its own while the oven does its work. 

Piave with Olive TapenadePiave Vecchio is a firm cheese from raw cow milk with a nutty, savory flavor. I paired this with Void & Form from the Monday Night Garage, and olive tapenade from Sutter Buttes. I expected the olive spread to be a major salt bomb, but I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of slow dried tomatoes, adding a tangy sweetness for perfect balance and delicious flavor. Void & Form is a double dry hopped sour IPA with a slightly wild, citrus-tart flavor that refreshes the palate, with a bit of earthiness from its hops and yeast to complement every bite of salty olive and cheese.

You may have a hard time remembering the name Pecorino Toscano Staggionato, Pecorino with Tomato Jam from Blakehill Preservesbut you won’t forget its flavor. This sheep’s milk cheese warms beautifully to room temperature for a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture, and salted butter flavor. I paired it with Fresh Tomato Jam from Blakehill Preserves, and a Port Barrel Aged Brett IPA from Tailgate Brewery. This cheese and the tomato jam are a match made in heaven, with shades of the grilled cheese and tomato soup of your childhood, and the cheese pizza of your dreams. The Port Barrel IPA from Tailgate is a 7  layer dip of funky hop flavors, rounded out with wine barrel notes that pull this trio together for a depth of flavors that go far beyond a typical night of pizza and beer.

Fontina with Pepperonis from Daniele FoodsFontina Val D’Aosta was my surprise gem of August’s box, a blast of straight funk on the nose, but a rich, disarming flavor I liken to an Italian Gouda. I spiced up that smooth nutty flavor with pepperonis from Daniele’s Foods, and Chief of Chiefs from Bearded Iris Brewing Company. Chief of Chiefs is an instant classic for modern IPAs; a double dry hopped Double NEIPA with 7.5% abv, and a smooth delivery of refreshing tropical flavors thanks to Citra,  Mosaic, and Simcoe hops. I love this beer because it hits my personal sweet spot of beer. I can drink it slow and thoughtfully with a platter of fancy cheeses and accoutrements, or easily enjoy several pints in an afternoon on the patio with friends. This pairing followed suit, with me slowly processing my first couple bites of rich cheese and pepperoni, accented by a mixed bouquet of hops, then quickly progressing into an expeditious feast.

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