Our foodie Queen Sarah Harding has caerphilly munched through mounds of cheese and swilled on the finest Bristol beers - and, with the help of Bristol's cheese and beer experts, has come up with a checklist of the beers you should be pairing with your cheese-gorging this Christmas.
The countdown to Christmas has started and if you’re anything like me, you'll have a ready-made list of food to tide you over the three glorious days of over-indulgence. As far as most of us are concerned, it isn’t Christmas without a groaning cheese board. Just pairing some great locally-made cheese with the usual wines seems like a wasted opportunity in this modern-day craft beer loving age. With the sheer amount of breweries and beers available within Bristol's city limits, it's time to open up the flavour profiles you can’t access with a bottle of red. Read on for the combinations you should try out on Christmas day.
Blue Cheese & Stout
We spoke to the immensely knowledgeable Bristol Cheesemonger, aka Rosie, who suggested marrying a coffee porter or a good stout with a full flavoured blue cheese like Beenleigh Blue. One of our favourite brewers, Moor Beer, do a Dark Alliance, and the Milk Stout by Bristol Beer Factory is pretty popular with Bristolians. Both are rich and gloriously viscous beers to wash a pungent triangle of cheese down with.
Goats Cheese & Saison
Rosie admitted she has a particular taste for goat's cheese, and suggests that both hard and soft varieties pair well with a citrusy or sweet beer. We thought of the Hop-Hand Fallacy by Lost & Grounded, a brewery known for their sours, and pairing it with Katherine Goat's cheese - the rind is brushed with Somerset Cider Brandy for an extra boozy layer! Smothering food in alcohol is a sure-fire way to enjoy the Eastenders special.
Both the Katherine Goat's and the Beenleigh Blue can be found and bought from The Bristol Cheesemonger website here. I was thankful to spot some ready-made cheese bundles to take the panic out of choosing myself.
Caerphilly & Dark, dark Beer
For those who like a nice crumbly caerphilly, you can’t go wrong with a wheel from the award-winning Trethowan’s Dairy - a cheese brought back from the brink of post war extinction. I tried a (little) plate of this lemony cheese with a bottle of the Advent Horizon from Good Chemistry Brew, a beer that won extra points with me for the name.
Cheddar & IPA
If you're a traditional cheddar fan, and most of us are, I've got something for you. I spoke to Karen Wickham, a bit of a beer industry expert and a regular judge at beer competitions up and down the country. She recommended pairing a decent sharp cheddar with Arbour’s Super Yakima, though if you can’t find it, their Yakima Valley is a good alternative. This super-strong yet ridiculously drinkable beer really should be drunk with food, as it scores pretty high on the ABV %. Cheddar-wise, you can't go wrong with a wedge of Godminster Cheese, deliciously simple and organic, and you can pick up from their website. Wriggle even have a wedge in the Bristol Christmas hamper this year!
Camembert & Wheat Beer
Finally, I felt I couldn’t write a cheese and beer guide without speaking to the cheese toastie specialists For Mice and Men. Their tipple of choice? A decent Belgian style Wheat Beer with a good, baked camembert. After a bit of research, I got my mitts on a bottle of Winter Ale from Wiper and True plus a baked wheel of Helford Camembert made in the South West. This cheese and beer together are supposed to recreate the taste of cheese on toast. I wasn't quite sold, so I'll let you be the judge of that.
Don’t forget your chutneys from GingerBeards, crackers, and a bottle of port for the final tipple.