Last night, the Bistro held its 2nd annual cheese-off, one of my favorite SF Beer Week events. Similar to last year, Bistro co-owner Vic Krajl picked four cheeses and then asked four breweries — Eel River, Mad River, Moylan’s and Sierra Nevada — to pick the beer they made that they felt was the best pairing with each cheese.
After choosing our favorite from each round, we handed in our scorecards and they tallied up the results to determine which pairings were the most popular. A prize was awarded to whoever correctly predicted the most popular choices. Only one person, for the second year running, chose all four most popular. While I’d argue that most popular doesn’t necessarily mean best, especially since people’s tastes and palettes vary widely, it was still a fun way to wrap up the evening and determine at least what a majority of people thought about the choices. Below is a list of each of the cheeses along with the beer pairings chosen by each brewery and then what was determined to be the most popular. The beer in bold was chosen as most popular and italics indicates my personal choice, in case you’re interested.
Cheese No. 1: Wavreumont (cow)
- Molyan’s: Celt’s Golden Ale
- Eel River: Triple Exultation
- Mad River: Mad Belgian Golden Ale
- Sierra Nevada: Kellerweis
Cheese No. 2: Petit Agour — Tomette d’Helette (sheep)
- Molyan’s: American Hefeweizen
- Eel River: Amber
- Mad River: Jamaica IPA
- Sierra Nevada: Pale Ale
Cheese No. 3: Sunlight (goat)
- Molyan’s: Hells’ Lager
- Eel River: Porter
- Mad River: Jamaica Red Ale
- Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Ale
Cheese No. 4: Bleu de Laqueuille (cow)
- Molyan’s: Barrel-aged/blended Kilt Lifter
- Eel River: IPA
- Mad River: John Barleycorn Barleywine 2008
- Sierra Nevada: Glissade Golden Bock
What’s interesting to me is that I chose all four of the beers from Mad River Brewing, and similarly last year I picked four of the five beers from a single brewery: Bear Republic. What that suggests is that while palettes do differ, we tend to be in sync with them, that is my palate was similar to whomever chose the pairings last year at Bear Republic and this year at Mad River.
Hat’s off once more to Vic and Cynthia for coming up with such a simple yet effective new way to approach cheese and beer pairings. It’s such a great way to educate yourself about cheese and beer and at the same time have an enormously fun time. I really hope to see more of this type of event in the future.
Below is a slideshow of the Bistro Cheese-Off. This Flickr gallery is best viewed in full screen. To view it that way, after clicking on the arrow in the center to start the slideshow, click on the button on the bottom right with the four arrows pointing outward on it, to see the photos in glorious full screen. Once in full screen slideshow mode, click on “Show Info” to identify each photo.