It’s been a long marriage between the power couple of wine and cheese. But some Minnesota purveyors think it’s time cheese found a new partner. Namely, craft beer.
In partnership with Undeniably Dairy (a dairy farmer-funded marketing campaign), Fulton is now offering beer-and-cheese flights at its Minneapolis taproom (414 6th Av. N., Mpls., 612-333-3208, fultonbeer.com) for a limited time. The flight features three winning cheeses from the 2019 Minnesota State Fair, along with three Fulton beers.
“People think beer comes in one flavor, but there are so many different kinds,” said Fulton brewer Tanner Luke. “Wine and beer are more similar than people think.”
For this pairing experiment, Luke added lactobacillus to a brew he’d been aging in wine barrels for three years. It’s the “friendly” bacteria that converts sugars into lactic acid in fermented foods, such as cheese. And while it’s not a common beer ingredient, Luke wanted his Brew + Moo Blackberry Sour to have something in common with its dairy counterpart.
“The both share the same culture,” he said.
Kowalski’s cheesemonger Liz Nerud matched the deep-red sour with cubes from a block of Land O’Lakes Cheddar, which she calls an “essential” cheese.
The other pairings are Whiskey War & Peace, a cask-aged coffee stout, with North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster from Minnesota’s Redhead Creamery; and Hopstar session IPA with St. Pete’s Select Blue Cheese, aged in the cheese caves of Faribault.
The time is, well, ripe, for beer to be taken seriously as a match for cheese, as people become more interested in what they’re consuming and how it’s made, Nerud said.
“In America, there’s been this explosion of careful consideration of flavors and tasting,” she said. “People are being more mindful about things, and they’re treating [food and drink] as an experience, not just sustenance.”
And it’s a natural extension of the relationship between brewers and farmers. Cows all over Minnesota are already munching on the spent grain breweries use to make their beer.
To that end, a portion of proceeds from the beer-and-cheese flights at Fulton will be donated to the Brewing a Sustainable Future effort from Environmental Initiative, which helps pair brewers looking to dispose of spent grain and the farmers who can use it.
Alise Sjostrom, president and cheesemaker at Redhead Creamery, says she prefers a beer with a bite of pungent cheese.
“The flavors that are within a beer, the nuances, they just seem to naturally pair with cheeses,” she said.
Her Brooten, Minn., creamery offers tasting classes focusing on both wine and beer. They’ve also paired cheeses with chocolate, coffee and tea.
It turns out — no shocker — that cheese goes with everything.