It’s time for another monthly wine and cheese pairing! Except, this month, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we are featuring Oakshire Beer and a few delectable varieties of Irish Cheese!
Josh, Ziggy, and I were fortunate enough to visit Oakshire’s facilities and see for ourselves what makes this beer so special. Our friendly hosts Sam and Ariel greeted us warmly and put us right to work tasting a flight of their finely crafted beer. As the weather raged outside, we were warm and comfortable in their tasting room which opens up into the fermenting and bottling rooms.
When we were all done in the tasting room, Sam took us on a tour of the fermentation and bottling rooms. He walked us through each step of the process, from grain to keg. What stood out was the cleanliness, organization and efficiency of the whole operation.
In 2006 Oakshire was founded by two brothers who were home brewers. The giant, gleaming stainless steel tanks make it obvious that the company has come a long way since then. What hasn’t changed is their dedication to producing a beer that is rooted in artisanship and craftsmanship, which is what their oak tree logo represents.
So what was that I mentioned about cheese? Read on for tasting notes from our two resident experts!
Ziggy: We tried a flight of the current brews, ranging in taste from the bright and light-bodied Amber through to their rich and robust Overcast Espresso Stout. Sam told us that the original recipe Oakshire began with was similar to the Amber. The Watershed IPA is crisp and lively with the fresh taste of floral hops — the fragrance and taste definition of fresh beer is one big reason to buy local! We also tried the Domaine du Lane, a French Farmhouse Ale, which is available at the brewery. Inspired by Belgian ales, I found the taste complex with layers of fruit, and yeast. Delicious! While we are featuring the O’Dark:30 in our pairing of the month, it would be a shame to let the other terrific Oakshire beers pass without a nod. I tried a bottle of the Overcast Espresso Stout with our four Irish cheeses. The espresso in the Espresso Stout is the aptly-named Chupacabra blend from Wandering Goat, and Sam tells us the stout contains about a shot’s worth of espresso per pint. The brisk espresso flavor comes through and combines with the rich, toasty chocolate notes of the dark malt. Overcast has a rich and creamy mouth feel and a well-balanced palate with both sweet and bitter notes, definitely not a cloyingly sweet stout. Myself and my tasting partner thought the Dubliner was a stellar combination with the Overcast. The ale brought out the sweetness of the cheese and accented its buttery quality, while the cheese brought out the toastiness and velvety smoothness of the ale. Another excellent combination was the porter cheese. This cheese in itself is rich, creamy, and smooth as ice cream. We found that it complemented the bitter notes and accentuated the coffee flavor of the stout.
Josh: March is in like a lion this year, and so is the ferociously bold O’Dark:30, the seasonal beer from Oakshire Brewing. This full-bodied dark ale begins with an assertive dry hopped aroma and mellows to a dark malt finish. With a perfectly contrived balance between bitterness and sweet notes, this beer provides exciting possibilities for pairing with cheese. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and our recent visit to the brewery, I decided to employ the O’Dark:30 as a match for a few of The Kiva deli’s Irish cheeses. Good beer and good cheese make for a good time; however, one of the combinations worked really well for me. Kerrygold’s 12 month aged Dubliner, with its salty crunch and a hint of sweetness paired particularly well with the O’Dark:30.
Well folks, there you have it! So remember this St. Patrick’s Day to eat, drink and be merry, just not the green beer. Cheers!