Beer Town: Cheese with beer or in beer?

In many ways, beer is food. Like bread, it’s made with grains and yeast, but with the addition of hops to create distinctive aromas and flavors. Beyond that, beer is sometimes an ingredient in food, and sometimes food is an ingredient in beer.

Recently, Pine Street Market in Avondale Estates debuted an artisan sausage made with Classic City Lager from Creature Comforts Brewing in Athens.

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In addition to beer and pasture-raised heritage pork, the recipe includes kosher salt, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger and garlic. Altogether, Classic City Lager Brats are a distinctive rendition of German-style bratwurst, which makes it perfect for end-of-summer summer grilling or the upcoming Oktoberfest celebrations.

Creature Comforts marketing manager Dan Reingold created a Classic City Lager Brats grilling recipe that bathes the sausage in beer, sauerkraut and Classic City Lager Mustard.

I made a similar version with the Pine Street Brats and a side of potato salad, and it was sublime. But if you can’t get to Pine Street, another high-quality sausage will work, too. And as Reingold admonishes, “Remember to support your local butcher.”

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From the food-as-an-ingredient-in-beer side of the equation, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Cabot Creamery teamed up for The Perfect Pairing, introduced as “a hazy pale ale scientifically engineered to accompany sharp cheddar cheese.”

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione has always been something of mad scientist when it comes to beer, but this time he brought in a certified scientist to work on the project, Maegan Olsen, R&D food technologist at Cabot Creamery.

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“The Perfect Pairing shares some of the same DNA as Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar with the use of Cabot’s whey permeate as a unique ingredient to the recipe,” Olsen noted in a press release. “The carbonation, light bitterness and balanced fruity flavors … prepare and cleanse the palate in between bites of our creamy, tangy, bold Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese.”

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The Perfect Pairing will be available in Dogfish Head’s new variety 12-pack of 12-ounce cans, dubbed the Off-Centered Party Pack. It includes a selection of three more hoppy Dogfish beers, all meant to be paired with a Cabot Creamery cheese: 90 Minute IPA with Habanero Cheddar, 60 Minute IPA with Cracked Peppercorn Cheddar and Blue Hen Pilsner with Pepper Jack.

I’ve always agreed with brewers like Caligione who believe beer pairs much better with cheese than wine. But I will admit, when I first tried the Perfect Pairing, I didn’t have high hopes about cheese in beer. Thankfully, there were no cheesy notes, it wasn’t super hazy, and it really did pair well with Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar.

Cheers to beer and cheese!

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