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Into Shelley’s Belly: Scardello’s Beer and Cheese Pairings

The Bombshell Blonde (left); Camembert, bottom, Tomme Crayeuse (right) photos by Matthew Shelley
The Bombshell Blonde (left); Camembert, bottom, Tomme Crayeuse (right) photos by Matthew Shelley

In my list of supplies to include in my wheel barrel of fun (after I win the lottery and move to Big Sur) are many things. Lots of beer, bacon, honey, cashmere jumpsuits, chocolate, and cheese, to name a few. Cheese and beer are probably the most important (aside from the framed picture of Jennifer Capriati and the ziplock bag of Rihanna’s hair that I collected (stole) from her tour bus bathroom). Cheese enlivens our wits and encourages our senses to be courageous. I decided I needed some education, though; and having been to some classes at Scardello, I thought it would be a wonderful place for a lesson in pairing beer and cheese. Lance Lynn, Scardello’s most aptly anointed beer master agreed to host me for an evening of beer and cheese pairing. Even though this is a slightly impromptu, organic collection of pairings, the purpose of this post is to showcase some exciting and accessible pairings that are available for you, your friends, and your enemies.

Lance is an interesting cat. His warm smile and effortless, hip style are surpassed only by his knowledge and love for what he does. And it’s very much a consistent attitude throughout the entire shop. Lance reads about beer and cheese, attends seminars, and discusses the two with erudite deftness. I allowed him to choose the cheeses, and we worked together to select the beers. First up is the crowd pleasing, American blonde ale from Southern Star Brewing Company called Bombshell Blonde. It’s a very clean, golden beer with a biscuity flavor profile that goes down easy. Instead of rambling on, I’ll just make a list from here on out.

(Disclaimer: Most of the subtleties that are pointed out with sophisticated vocabulary come from Lance. Fortunately, this allowed me to impart my beer sloppiness while he maintained his disarming, sophisticated demeanor. Lance is a pleasant man.)

 

(L-R) Camembert, Tomme Crayeuse, Cana de Cabra, Mahon Reserva, Dunbarton Blue, Smokey Blue Rogue
(L-R) Camembert, Tomme Crayeuse, Cana de Cabra, Mahon Reserva, Dunbarton Blue, Smokey Blue Rogue

Bombshell Blonde

1. Camembert
This cheese has an unctuous, mushroom, peppery flavor. We removed the rind, let the cheese warm up, and tasted. It’s extremely gamey on the scent approach, and it’s got a hefty, rustic intensity of flavor. The buttery smooth mouth feel wraps it together nicely though and blends well with the beer. We decided to include the rind because the cheese itself was being overpowered by the beer.

2. Tomme Crayuese
This is an earthy cheese with some hints of grass and ammonia. It’s got a nostalgic, cheddar smell. It’s chalky, earthy texture in the mouth is mild and lovely. The beer ignites the cheese on the finish, and this is a much more exciting and pleasing pair. Side note: Oak just added this cheese to their cheese plate.

3. Mahon Reserva
This is a mild, very approachable cheese. It’s a Spanish cow’s milk and it comes from an island. Weird all around, in a good way. It’s a crunchy, rich cheese and the rind is rubbed with olive oil. These two played nice as well.

*I could see the three cheeses and this beer on a plate offering some eloquent variety and being enjoyable with something intense, yet approachable. And this beer comes in cans. That’s perfect for summer.

Adelbert's Philosophizer
Adelbert’s Philosophizer
Cana de Cabra
Cana de Cabra

Adelbert’s Philosophizer Saison: It’s a farmhouse ale/saison and golden in color like the blonde. It’s got a breathy yeast profile and is also a very smooth drinker. This one has a bit more alcohol and a bit more depth in its flavor.

1. Cana de Cabra
This is not only a remarkable cheese on its own, but it’s an incredible pair with the Philosophizer. The beer was lifted beyond its subtleties with this cheese’s soft, gentle accents. The rind is too much to eat, but this pairing alone would convert any naysayers. It may be the best of the night.

Lakewood Temptress (left); Lance Lynn (right)
Lakewood Temptress (left); Lance Lynn (right)

Lakewood’s Temptress: I think we all know this dark beauty from our very own Lakewood Brewery. Stouts make wonderful pairings with cheese, and the vanilla and chocolate notes of this milk stout are no exception.

Dunbarton Blue
Dunbarton Blue

1. Dunbarton
This is a blue cheese with a cheddar friendliness. There is a hint of bacon in the aroma, which rules. It’s a very salty cheese and it’s also a wonderful pair for the sweetness of this beer. Some dried apricot would be a nice addition, but these two alone presented some outstanding kicks. The vanilla explodes from the beer when coupled with the cheese, giving the already impressive taste a new life.

2. Bayley Hazen Blue
This is Lance’s go-to stout-pairing cheese. This cheese celebrated its flavors in a good match with the Temptress and provided a delicious complement.

3. Cana de Cabra
On a whim, we decided to pair these two. Thank goodness. They become an elegant root beer float when coupled and who doesn’t like the sound of that?

*We also had a bad pairing. The Temptress and the Tomme Crayeuse do not get along. They somehow spawned a hideous, bitter child that curdles the face. It happens.

(Top to bottom) Mahon Reserva, Dunbarton Blue, Smokey Blue Rogue
(Top to bottom) Mahon Reserva, Dunbarton Blue, Smokey Blue Rogue

Scardello is a wonderful shop, full of artisanal indulgence and a staff so knowledgeable that anyone can come away with something mesmerizing. They hold several classes each month, and I believe there are still some spaces available for the Beer vs. Wine Smack down class this Friday. Before I left, Lance said to me, “I like eating cheese a lot, but I like the idea of it more. Its art, history, and science wrapped up in this one package, and then you get to eat it afterwards, which is fantastic.”