Beer and Cheese Pairing Class at the "Brewniversity" of Central Market

Attending a class at the Central Market Cooking School has been on my "To Do" list since I moved to Texas. Seven years later, I finally made good on this promise by attending a beer and cheese pairing class, one of a series of events comprising Central Market's "Brewniversity" festival. I won't say, however, that I crossed this item off the list completely, because I so enjoyed the class that I can't imagine not attending another one in the near future.

Readers of this blog know that cocktails are more my spirits beat. Despite being married to a homebrewer, I know little about beer, and my palate for them is fairly unsophisticated. "This is too hoppy," is probably the most nuanced critique I've uttered about a beer.

Lately, however, I've started to enjoy beer more and even notice small differences between various IPAs, stouts, and lagers, so I welcomed the opportunity for a little more education. And since fromage and I are already very intimately acquainted, a beer and cheese class sounded perfect.

Leading the class was Janet Fletcher, who recently authored a book titled - you guessed it - Cheese & Beer. She provided historical information and tasting notes for each of the five pairings and encouraged participants to contribute their comments and observations. Beginning with a summery Saint Arnold's Fancy Lawnmower kölsch and a light mozzarella, we moved on to increasingly darker, more complex beers and stronger cheeses, culminating in a final pairing of oatmeal stout with a blue cheese from a creamery in Point Reyes, California. Fletcher also encouraged us to investigate cross-pairings, which is how I found my personal favorite duo: Ommegang Abbey Ale and butter & cheese cremont.

All the featured beers and cheeses are available for sale at Central Market , so I can easily recreate the five-course menu in the comfort of my own home. But a lot of the fun of the class was interacting with and learning from my fellow participants, many of whom, I discovered, make their own cheese and/or beer.

The next step for me is to attend a Central Market class in which I actually cook, since, God knows, I could use help in that area.

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Joanna O'Leary