I was invited to a cheese and beer tasting session at Paxton and Whitfield by ACHICA recently. As I wobbled home on the tube (I don’t drink very often and even the mouthfuls I’d had had had quite an effect on me) I thought that it was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life — I know I get a lot of lovely things through being a food blogger, but this night really was one of my favourites due to how interesting and generally lovely it was.
But let’s start at the beginning.
It was held at Paxton and Whitfield. Paxton and Whitfield has been going since 1742. It was the official cheesemonger for Queen Victoria and holds Royal Warrants now. Its first shop was in Jermyn Street, where there is still a shop today, and they are the experts in all things cheese.
The shop is lovely. It’s beautiful. It’s small and cosy with every inch of space filled with either cheese or cheese related products. It’s a good thing I was skint when I went there or I’d have bought the whole shop rather than the one cookbook I left with.
I had a good time nosing around the shop with Ashley until the other bloggers arrived and it was time to get down to the tasting.
So. Cheese and beer. Not a “traditional” combination, is it? When you think of alcohol to drink with cheese, you think wine. However, it works really well. The two share a common source ingredient and the complexity of a good beer is easily comparable to the complexity of a good wine. There’s also some science about how the beer cuts through the lactose coating your tongue, but the MD of the company was explaining this to me when I had one eye on a spreadsheet so I may not have been giving it my total attention.
Bottom line — it’s a good pairing, and so much more refreshing on a hot day.
There were a couple of beers I absolutely didn’t like. Which is unsurprising as I don’t like particularly like beer, heh. However, I can totally see how the beer improved the taste of the cheese — even as I was shuddering from the beer I noticed the heightened flavour of the cheese.
These were the cheese we had and the beers paired with them:
1. Shoreditch Blonde Ale by Redchurch Brewery: Tunworth, Hampshire Cheese, Hampshire
2. Meantime Wheat by Meantime Brewery with Rachel, White Lake, Somerset
3. Jaipur by Thornbridge Brewery with Berwick Edge, Doddington’s Dairy, Northumberland
4. Vintage Perry by Hogan’s Cider with Gorwydd Caerphilly, Trethowans Dairy, Wales
5. Paxton & Whitfield No. 93 Ale by Hepworth & Co. Brewers with Westcombe Cheddar, Hard Cow’s Milk, Somerset
6. Imperial Stout by Sam Smith’s Brewery with Stilton, Cropwell Bishop, Nottinghamshire
My favourite, hands down, was #4 — possibly it’s because I felt duty bound to like it thanks to the cheese being Welsh like me and the Perry being from my English homeregion of Warwickshire, but actually just because I really liked both the cheese and the beer.
A close second is the Rachel cheese. This was a goat cheese without any of the sharp tang to it. It was smooth and creamy from start to finish, and totally delicious.
But that dark stout and Stilton…there was something special about that. It was rich and intense and tasted almost chocolatey. It’d be perfect for Christmas.
Ashley, as always, looked elegant and poised as she sipped her beer and nibbled delicately at her cheese. Read her post about the event here.
I, as always, was somewhat less poised. I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT CHEESE.