Stout is a preferred choice for many beer drinkers in the coldest months. It's rich and full of flavor, like so many of the dishes we seem to enjoy most this time of year. Complicated flavors make stouts great food beers and great cheese beers in particular. Here we take a peek at four categories of hearty cold-weather cheeses and stouts that make great drinking buddies.
Alpines and Irish Stouts
Aged Comté's nutty, brothy and sweet characteristics pair well with the roasted-grain character of an Irish stout. Also called dry stouts, Irish stouts (such as the very popular Guinness) are creamy, drier and usually lower in alcohol and carbonation.
Suggested cheeses: Kowalski's Signature Comté (a), Cave-Aged Gruyère, Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Blues and Milk Stouts
Creamy and buttery blues can cut through the bitterness of stout and bring out the sweetness of milk stouts. These are so named because they are brewed with lactose, a sugar derived from milk. They are particularly sweet, full-bodied and are somewhat less bitter than other stouts.
Suggested cheeses: St. Agur Blue (b), Bleu d'Auvergne, Carr Valley Glacier Penta Crème
Aged Goudas and Imperial Stouts
The butterscotch and salted caramel flavors of aged Gouda balance nicely with Imperial (or Russian) stouts. These very intensely flavored stouts are high in alcohol, some 9% or more.
Suggested cheeses: Jeffs' Select Gouda (c), Beemster X-O, Vintage 5 Year
Triple Creams and Oatmeal Stouts
Luscious and creamy triple cream cheeses complement the smooth texture and bring out the bready, nutty, yeasty flavors in oatmeal stouts. Chocolate or coffee stouts with their chocolatey, mocha-esque sweetness may be good choices here, too.
Suggested cheeses: Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, Brillat Savarin, St. Stephen Triple Cream
Good Question: What's the difference between stout and porter?
Stouts originated in Ireland, while porters came from England. They're both dark, malty ales. Stouts tend to have a pleasantly bitter, roastier character – edging towards dark roast coffee – and may be creamier than porter, which is often a little lighter-bodied.
Beer of the Month
With St. Patty's Day on the way, it's a no-brainer that our March Beer of the Month is Finnegans Dead Irish Poet Extra Stout. Its complex, dark and brooding taste profile features flavors like dark chocolate and stone fruit. This limited release is available in 6-packs for $8.97, save $1.52, through March 31.
Find this and a wide variety of stouts in the Wine Shops, located in our Excelsior, Uptown, Grand Avenue, Stillwater, Woodbury, Eagan and Shoreview Markets.
Selection and availability of products vary by market.