Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Beer and Cheese at the Rogue

By William Brand
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006 at 10:56 am in Uncategorized.

Somewhere in the middle of an incredible week of beer events, I sat down with three dozen other beer lovers at the Rogue Ales Public House in San Francisco’s North Beach for an evening cheese and beer tasting sponsored by the Celebrator Beer News.

I learned something important: Pairing cheese and beer together is an emerging art and individual palates vary tremendously and just perhaps the cheese hasn’t been made that can balance the uber-hopping of Russian River Brewing’s fabulous Pliny the Elder. At 8 percent ABV and 100 IBUs (A Bud is 13 IBU), it’s a tough match.
The pairing this night by Sheana Davis of the Epicurean Connection, Sonoma, CA was Pliny and Rogue et Noir Marin French Triple Cream Blue Brie. This is a very rich, (75 percent butterfat), prizewinning, triple cream, made from pastuerized cow’s milk in Petaluma. But it simply couldn’t stand up to powerful Pliney.

Later, a number of tasters ( all of whom love Pliney) paired Pliney with Harley Farms Monet Chevre, from Harley Farms, Pescadero. I can’t report on chevre, since it’s the one thing in the world, besides penicillin that I’m violently alergic to. I discovered this unpleasant fact after sharing my first (and last) calzone at Chez Panisse in Berkeley with my wife-to-be.

Anyway, several tasters said the combo worked well, the goat cheese with its fresh, moist, acrid qualities balanced heavily hopped Pliney. In the tasting, Sheana served Monet Chevre with honey, which, I understand, softened the acrid quality in the cheese. It was paired with an excellent Belgian-Style Ale from Bison Brewing, Berkeley.

In the strong and potent category, I liked Rogue’s powerful Chipotle Ale (formerly Mexicali Rogue) paired with Chipotle Cheddar from Bravo Farms, Visalia. This is a raw milk cheese, made with chipotle chilis ( that is – smoked, dried jalapenos). It took chipotles in both beer and cheese to revive my taste buds, which had been blown away by Pliney. Incredibly, the hops came through the heat of the chipotles. The creamy qualities in the cheese, cleansed the palate. If you like heat, try this combo.

I also liked Lagunitas Brown Shugga paired with Fiscallini San Joaquin Gold . Shugga’s actually made with brown sugar and it adds a caramel note, but the malt predominates, an excellent complement to this fairly sharp cheddar.

Still curious about beer and cheese? I attended another, excellent pairing of North Coast Brewing’s beers and California artisanal cheeses. Check out my colunmn today (
Feb. 22, 2006) at or

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