Fort Bragg, CA – On Saturday afternoon, April 27, North Coast Brewing Company’s Sequoia Room was packed with gratified guests in a successful fundraiser for the Mendocino Music Festival, underwritten and hosted by the brewery, the Presenting Sponsor for the summer festival that brings two weeks of live concerts to the Mendocino Coast every summer.
North Coast Brewing’s President and Brewmaster, Mark Ruedrich joined forces with Janet Fletcher, author of the new Cheese & Beer and cheese columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, to create an enjoyable afternoon for guests to experience the very best in pairings of North Coast Brewing’s award-winning hand-crafted ales and outstanding artisanal cheeses.
Brewmaster Ruedrich, a pioneer in the craft brewing industry, is a long-time advocate of beer and food pairings and an expert in his own right on beer and cheese pairings. He has worked with renowned chefs, including the “father” of California Wine Cuisine John Ash and Paul Kahan of Chicago’s famed Publican restaurant, to create memorable gourmet dinners with exquisite beer and food pairings. Mark has also hosted beer and cheese pairing across the U.S. and developed a keen sense of which cheeses and beers pair well from first sip to first bite to second sip.
Beer Meets Cheese featured seven pairings selected by Mark and Janet after they taste- tested multiple possibilities. Mark’s slam dunk pairing of the event was Abbaye de Belloc, a French sheep’s milk cheese aged for several months in a Benedictine monastery with NCBC’s Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale. Although the monastery/abbey/monk connection between beer and cheese may have had something to do with this well-considered pairing, the combination of the Abbaye’s gentle brown-sugar sweetness and the smoky malt of Brother Thelonious was just this side of divine.
Janet’s favorite of the afternoon was the pairing of L’Amuse Gouda, an aged cow’s milk cheese with a butterscotch aroma, caramel flavor and crunchy protein crystals that melt on the tongue with NCBC’s 2013 Old Stock Ale. Brewed in the classic Old Stock tradition with imported English malts and hops, the meant-to-be sipped and savored Old Stock Ale and the amber-hued creamy Dutch Gouda complemented one another in richness, intensity and complexity. Sip. Bite. Sip. Sigh.
There’s a lot to be said about doing something well and doing something good at the same time and “Beer Meets Cheese” did both: the host was warm and welcoming, each pairing was attractive, artful and delicious, the servers were friendly and knowledgeable, the room overflowed with enthusiastic and appreciative guests, and money was raised for a worthy organization. In the words of Ira Gershwin, “..who could ask for anything more?”