Beer and cheese, two of life's greatest substances have come together
When it comes to delicious pairings, beer and cheese is a real treat.
Cheese’s wide range of textures and flavours mirrors the breath of difference found in beer styles.
Both are fermented products dependent on teams of microbes to transform their raw ingredients into the cheddars, camembert’s, lambics and porters that we love.
This means that there are harmonious flavour profiles leading to endless pairing and experimentation.
While beer enhances any cheese plate, beer can also play an important role in the production of many cheeses.
The rind of a cheese, the essential barrier between it’s nutty or gooey interior can be treated in many different ways and one specific method involves using beer to cure and protect the cheese.
Wash rind cheeses developed in Europe during the middle ages was created when monks from Northern France discovered that washing the rind of a cheese while it ripened, created a moist and supple texture a rich flavour and often a pungent smell.
Washed rind cheeses are mostly surface ripened, semi-soft cheeses.
“Washed rind” is a phrase that can be used to describe any cheese whose exterior has been moistened or washed in a mildly salty liquid.
This brine-washing fosters an environment hospitable to a variety of bacteria, which often, but not always includes (brevibacterium linens).
Intent on adding even more flavour to cheese, resourceful monks often rinsed their cheeses in wine or beer.
This was a clever use the products they had to hand and resulted in delicious cheese.
Rind washed cheeses are carefully ripened in temperature and humidity-controlled rooms. The solution they are rinsed in gives the rind a distinct red/orange colour.
Different characteristics are encouraged by adding yeasts to the mix and some styles of washed rind cheese have white mould spores added to the milk to create a rind that is not as sticky or pungent as other cheeses in the category.
If you are interested in trying some cheeses washed with Irish brewed beers, you are in luck.
There are a number of Irish beer washed cheeses.
Brewer’s Gold is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese made using organic milk from the Little Milk Company in Dungarvan.
It is washed with various different beers sourced from O’Hara’s, Dungarvan Brewing Co, and Eight Degrees Brewing, each beer imparting a slightly different flavour.
Sheridan’s Cheese Mongers have recently brought a beer washed cheese to market.
Carrig Bru is a creamy, buttery cheese with a distinctly nutty finish.
It is a semi-hard cheese which takes six weeks to mature.
During this time the cheese is bathed in Wicklow Wolf IPA.
It is a versatile flavoursome cheese available from the Sheridan’s cheese Counter at the new Dunnes Stores food hall in Naas.
Judith Boyle is a qualified chemist (MSc) and accredited beer sommelier. Susan Boyle is a playwright, artist and drinks consultant. See www.awinegoosechase.com.
Both sisters are proud to be fifth-generation publicans. Their family business is Boyle’s bar and off-licence in Kildare town