When a company as reputable as Troegs comes to do a tasting, you can anticipate a great variety of high-quality beers. But last night, Nick hooked us up with the Scratch #27, a beer that is exclusive to the brewery and rarely found outside Harrisburg. It served as one half of our most surprising pairing to date, so we saved it for last. Our first two pairings were not too shabby, though. They were:
Hopback Amber Ale with Keens Farmhouse Cheddar: Troegs’ flagship beer, the Hopback gets its name from the machine used in the brewing process, which infuses the beer with an amplified amount of spicy, floral hops. Aromatic, creamy and bold, the strength of the hops is balanced with caramel malts for a touch of sweetness. While we tried several cheeses with it, we all knew right away that Keens would be ideal. The sharpest of our Artisan Somerset Cheddars, it had enough bite to stand up to the hoppiness, but also offered some earthy tones and blue-veined funk to play with the sweet malts. Ideal.
Troegenator Double Bock with Abbaye de Bellocq: Double Bock is a trappist style that was invented by the Monks to drink during periods of fasting. Its made with elevated amounts of malts and nutirents, and the Monks would drink this “liquid bread” to compensate for their lack of food. We paired it with Abbaye de Bellocq, a mild, olivey and earthy sheep milk cheese made in a monestary in the French Basque for centuries. It works in a historical context, but is truly satisfying in the present day.
Scratch #27 with Red Hawk: The Scratch series is a line of beers that were never bottled and labeled to be sold throughout the country, but were so loved by the brewers that they produce them in small batches and sell them only at the brewery. They are hard to find without having someone “in the know.” Scratch #27 is a Chocolate Stout, made with cocoa nibs and lactose. It is rich an chocolatey with notes of toast and vanilla. While conventional wisdom would suggest a smooth blue like Colston Bassett Stilton, Zeke suggested the peanuty, washed-rind triple-cream Red Hawk from California. As the chocolate and peanut intertwined in our mouths, we knew we had discovered the beer and cheese equivolent of Snickers. Simply stunning, and our guests unanimously proclaimed it to be the finest pairing of the night.
Please join us next week when Chris from Iron Hill will be bringing by several beers from his stunning repetoire. Celebrate with them as they were just named Large Brewpub of the Year at World Beer Cup in Chicago.