Last Friday the missus and I went to a beer and cheese tasting in Amsterdam, hosted by Fromagerie Kef, with beers from De Kromme Haring.
Now I know the cheese parlor for their epic cheeses which JK and I used to get for the whisky tastings at Emakina, and I know De Kromme Haring for the releases that were available at my local bottle shop.
What I knew about De Kromme Haring, which is Dutch for ‘the bent herring’, is that they use a lot of wild yeasts and do some interesting cask maturations. Their most well known beer (to me at least) is ‘The Original Smokey’, which is a smoked porter. I’ve had some others too, and like them for being quite far away from the norm.
The tasting consisted of four different beers, each paired with two cheeses. For us to find out which we liked best!
Steed of the Sea, 6.5% paired with Anneau du Vic Bilh and Boeren Leidse Sleutel
Steed of the Sea is a herbal beer made in collaboration with Jester King from Texas. On the nose there were heaps of herbs, mostly Italian in style (thyme and oregano) and some citrus notes.
It paired exceptionally well with the Anneau du Vic Bilh, which is a lactic goat cheese. The Boeren Leidse Sleutel is a typical Dutch cheese with cloves. It didn’t conflict but was a tad too strong for the beer.
Le Poisson Doré, 10% paired with Stolkse Boeren and Crayeux de Roncq
The beer is a barrel aged saison with blood orange added. It’s quite dry and waxy, with a lot of depth and virtually no carbonation. I really enjoyed the beer (and we bought a bottle) because of the gentle complexity and its dangerous drinkability.
It paired well with both cheeses, although I enjoyed the pairing with the Stolkse Boeren cheese better. This is a strong, long aged Dutch cheese and it complemented the richness of the beer well. In essence I preferred the Crayeux de Roncq as a cheese, but it didn’t pair as well with the beer.
Lactic Fantastic Plums, 7.6% paired with Twentse Hooikaas, Saint-Philippe and Lucullus
Three cheese? Yes! The latter were rather similar cheese of which they really liked one with the beer, and really hated the other. For us to find out if we agree.
The beer is a Brett Sour Ale with plums added. Not too sour but definitely some acidity. The plums added a sweet and fruity touch without making it too fruity.
The first cheese is a Dutch take on a Gruyere, and tasted very similar to the French/Swiss style. It worked really well with the beer because of the salinity and the fruitiness.
Strangely, I didn’t really enjoy both cheeses in the second pairing with this beer, although I preferred number two. My wife and I found that the first one really amplified the bitterness of the beer in all the wrong ways. Interestingly enough, the people at the tasting (most other guests and the hosts) preferred it the other way around.
The Original Smokey, 8.5% paired with Stilton Colston Bastett and Pecorino Sardo Affumatico and a surprise cheese
The Original Smokey is the smoked porter I already had before, but don’t mind trying again at all! A lot of roasted flavors from the malts, and the smoke is clearly present but not all encompassing.
The surprise cheese was an aged goat cheese with slightly caramelly flavours. It is nice on it’s own, but I didn’t really like the pairing. It diminished the beer without compensating for it.
Stilton is something I am a huge fan of on any day of the week and if it is nicely paired with a great beer, I’m a happy camper. As I was in this case. The creaminess of the cheese matched really well with the dryness of the beer and enriched both of them.
The smoked pecorino is an amazing cheese and my wife’s favorite of the evening by a mile. She had my bit too, after I had a small bite. I could have her Stilton, and both the beers, since she really doesn’t like stouts and porters.
By then we had come to the end of the tasting, but not before getting myself a refill on the saison, and getting my wife a refill on the pecorino. We had an amazing night, even though the two guys on the next table over were, as we Dutch call them ‘vinegar pissers’. As in, nothing was good enough. They didn’t like the beer or the cheeses. We wondered several times what the hell they were doing at the event.
Our conclusion: if they ever do a night of pairings like this again, we’re going to be there (calendars allowing). Great stuff, from both a great cheese shop and a great brewpub, which is on my list of places to visit.