We picked up an Avery Brewing Co. offering a few weeks back and thought we'd pull a clever little pairing with the Boulder-based brewer's Samael's Oak-Aged Ale.
Given that the beer was brewed with oak chips, we searched for an oakwood-smoked cheddar from another Central Market shelf for investigation.
The most important point here is that the beer weighed in at a whopping 16.45% alcohol by volume, and felt as boozy as that might suggest. After the first sip we assumed they'd aged it in a bourbon barrel, but no -- "oak chips," the bottle confirmed. Curious.
The aroma was excellent, and came across more like a heavily spiced holiday baked good than a beer. You smell the sweetness, maybe the oak, and certainly the alcohol.
There's not much point dwelling on the flavor of this one, because everyone is going to experience it differently. Some sips showed really engaging, mellow flavors and some sweet, Belgian-style fruity tastes. But other sips leaned too far toward the syrupy, medicinal side of the scale. This one is going to depend largely on your taste, your mood and your palate.
If you're willing to take the plunge, however, what we can say confidently is that our cheese pairing was impeccable, and you should try it.
The cheese was sharp enough, but mellow in the finish, with that lingering smoke tinge to it. It went exceedingly well with the beer, and after some sips we really needed it. The subtle flavors in the cheese cut right through the sting of the booze, with the finishing tastes of both combining without either crowding the other out.