Beer & Cheese Tasting at Saraveza

Our friends Dave (BS Brewing) and Sarah (of FU Cheese) won tickets to a beer and cheese tasting at Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern. After promising them our first born, they invited us to go with them. It was so worth it!

Saraveza is a bottle shop and tavern owned by Sarah Pederson. They had their grand opening last fall, 2008. It’s in a very cute little building off North Killingsworth and they keep their for-sale beers in these great vintage coolers. They’re the kind of coolers that you might open a restaurant around since they are so adorable. The bar has a nice, casual vibe and we tried a couple of their pasties (all good) and a sausage plate (yum!). One of our favorite bartenders from the Green Dragon works here, too, so that was a nice surprise.

Steve’s Cheese is located in the Square Deal Wine Shop on 23rd and Thurman and is run by Steve Jones. He’s a young, very bearded guy who has a clear passion for cheese and cheesemakers. He was able to answer our many, many questions with enthusiasm and point us toward some great Northwest creameries.

Okay, on to the tasting. Sarah and Steve put together five pairings of beer and cheese. The tastes of cheese were cut from the center of the wheel to the rind so that we could get the full experience of the cheese. They were nice hunks — enough to get at least three or four bites.

Cheese & Beer Tasting @ Saraveza

I had no idea Thom was looking so beer-studious in the background there.

1

Pholia Farm’s ELK MOUNTAIN (Raw Nigerian Dwarf Goat) – Rogue River, Oregon paired with HUB’s DIABOLITO (Small Belgian Strong) – Portland, Oregon

Steve called this his “regional” pairing. The Elk Mountain is an aged farmstead cheese* which is washed in a local (to them) beer. The cheese was dry and not very “goaty” but with a strong flavor that mellows the slightly bitey beer. HUB stands for Hopworks Urban Brewery and they are new to the Portland brewing scene. They have a restaurant and brewpub on Powell Blvd and seem to be doing a great business. We like them a lot. Sarah called this a “small” beer which means that it is a second brew made using the spent grains of the first beer — lower in alcohol content and milder than the first brew which, in this case, is HUB’s Diablo.

* Farmstead cheese is cheese made from the same people who farm the animals that produce the milk. This was something I did not know before this tasting.

2

ROS OMBRA (Sheeps Milk) – Catalonia, Spain paired with Moylan’s SCOTCH ALE – Novato, California

Steve dubbed this the “comparative” pairing. This was a creamy, smooth hard cheese with very small “crystals.” It’s an artisinal cheese* and it was very delicious with the beer. This was a nicely satisfying pair. The Scotch Ale was slightly bitter and malty and the two just really worked well together.

* Artisinal means that the cheese was made by hand and in small batches.

3

Guifante’s 3 MILK ROBIOLA – Piedmont, Italy paired with Eel River’s CLIMAX NOEL (Imperial Red Holiday Ale) – Fortuna, California

Steve called this one a “contrast” pairing. He brought out the chunks of Robiola on crackers and we all oohed and aahed over this creamy looking cheese. It was very white with a runny, yellow rind. It was quite salty and tongue-coating. It was so rich and wonderful that as much as I thought I could eat a whole wheel of it, I’d probably have to stop after a few bites. This would be a really great one to have on a cheese platter at a party. The beer was a real balancer — a strong, malty big beer almost like a porter. Great seasonal.

4

Hervé Mons’s GRUYERE (Raw Cow) – Bern, Switzerland paired with Brouwerij Verhaeghe’s DUCHESSE DE BOURGOGNE (Flemish Red Ale) – Vichte, Belgium

From Switzerland, this earthy gruyere comes from the caves of Hervé Mon — who is apparently a gentleman and an affineur. He collects the cheese from the makers, who get their milk from dairy producers, and he cares for them and ages them in his caves. His art is in the aging. I don’t have much experience with gruyere but after this it may be a new favorite. It had a strong, deep flavor, slightly tangy with grassy notes. It had small crystals and was just a nice, satisfying cheese. It was paired with Duchesse which is a dark fruit ale, almost like a sherry. The tartness of the beer was nearly cancelled out by the cheese leaving a far sweeter flavor in the mouth. This was the first pairing where I felt that there was a real back and forth between the cheese and the beer, almost like a wine.

5

Neal’s Yard Dairy – Colston Basset’s “SHROPSHIRE” (Cow’s Milk) – UK paired with Ommegang’s GRAND CRU ROUGE (Flemish Red Ale) – Copperstown, New York

Sarah and Steve called this their punk rock pairing. They said that they wanted to do something loud and bold that would really create an impression. This was totally right on. It was similar to the last pairing, in that you had a strong flavor in the cheese and a very strong tart flavor in the beer and they worked together to mellow each other in the best way. The shropshire is bright orange from the addition of annato and run through with blue veins. It has a strong blue flavor. The Grand Cru was incredibly sour and full of cherries. The two balanced each other but each really had such strong flavors that they weren’t totally mellowed by the other. A really fun pairing that was a great end to the evening.

* * *

Besides being a really lovely night out with our friends this was a great kickoff to what I hope will be a year packed with cheese exploration. The cheese was fantastic and the beer was exceptional. What really made the evening great, though, was the enthusiasm of both Steve and Sarah for their trade. They both gave plenty of personal time at each table answering questions and were just really engaging and high energy. I could tell that they love what they do and I hope they were having as much fun as we were.

7 Comments »

  1. Thom said,

    January 19, 2009 @ 9:01 am

    That’s how I look at every beer: with a look of surprise and disdain. Ha. That’s the most bizarre photo I think I’ve ever seen of myself.

    Maybe I’ll steal your notes and write something up today…

  2. art said,

    February 13, 2009 @ 9:45 am

    Great cheeses!

    It’s funny, being from the Midwest I will always think of Wisconsin’s infamous “beer cheese” spread. High school kids used to sell it door to door every year as a fund raiser. It was mostly processed, I’m sure, but the very idea of it gets the mouth watering. Cheese and beer is a marriage made in heaven. To me, the classic ploughman’s lunch reminds me of a real farmer’s lunch.

    I’ve started home brewing and have come across a few videos with cheese and beer pairing. Do not research on an empty stomach!

  3. Amanda said,

    February 13, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

    Art, that sounds wonderful — mmm…. beer and cheese. It is truly great together.

  4. FirkinFest #1 : BS Brewing's The Champagne of Blogs said,

    March 22, 2009 @ 8:24 am

    […] the way, it’s awesome to see Steve at these beer events. We also saw him at Saraveza for a beer and cheese pairing evening that the girls at FU Cheese wrote […]

  5. FUCheese » Cheese Plus Beer said,

    July 2, 2009 @ 10:01 am

    […] good it was. Then this past winter, Thom (the Mr.) and I joined Dave and Sarah at Saraveza for a cheese and beer pairing with cheese provided by Steve Jones of Steve’s cheese. It was fantastic! The cheeses were […]

  6. FUCheese » 2009, the Year of Festivals said,

    January 7, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    […] started off the year with a revelatory cheese and beer tasting put on by Saraveza and Steve’s Cheese. It kicked off a true obsession with pairing these two […]

  7. Beer + Cheese = Happy :: Beer and Cheese said,

    March 7, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    […] good it was. Then this past winter, Thom (the Mr.) and I joined Dave and Sarah at Saraveza for a cheese and beer pairing with cheese provided by Steve Jones of Steve’s cheese. It was fantastic! The cheeses were […]

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