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We Tried 6 Beer & Cheese Pairings, Here’s Our Review

photo: The Venue Report
San Diego’s beer scene has graduated from burgeoning to brewmaster status and gone from micro-brew scene to the craft beer leader. Ballast Point, Stone and Green Flash (to name a few) all call sunny San Diego home and helped pave the golden, bubbly road for countless pint sized breweries to crack open. National Beer Day is coming up on April 7th and what better way to celebrate than a local tasting party? We decided our next team hoppy hour would be in-office, consist of local beers and include cheese pairings because, food.

We were inspired by Food52’s super helpful and comprehensive pairing guide to create our local’s only, pared down version to report back to you on. Let’s hop to it.
Photo:The Venue Report
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The Pairing Guide

We had 6 official pairings to review (+ a few extra goodies because why not?) ranging from wheat to sour to cider. We started with our beverages and selected a cheese from there. Looking to try this at home? Pick YOUR favorite versions of each beer and cheese category for a perfectly tailored spread. 

1. White, pilsner, blond ale + light or robust cheese 
2. Hoppy ale + tangy cheese 
3. Saison + funky, complex cheese
4. Sour ale + bold cheese
5. Cider + wild card! Pick anything to try!

Disclaimer: This is our loose interpretation of Food52's gorgeous guide.
Photo:The Venue Report
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Wheat Beer + Brie

We worked from light to dark beer with each respective cheese. First up was Benchmark Brewing Co.'s Blond paired with a soft, creamy cheese of choice – ours was brie. TVR Review: Individually – great! Together – not our collective favorite. The brie was too mild to pair with the blond beer. Something sharper would have been great here.
Photo:The Venue Report
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Pilsner + Reggiano

Our second light colored beer pairing was Sufferfest's Epic Pilsner. We know, this isn't a true San Diego beer (San Francisco to be precise) but it is from California and it is gluten-free (we have some office dietary restrictions) so we gave it a go paired with a dense cheese – we picked reggiano. TVR Review: Again, not our favorite combo but the strong flavor of the cheese was easily washed down with this lightened up beer. 
Photo:The Venue Report
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Hoppy Ale + Cheddar

San Diegans love their IPAs so picking just one was hard and admittedly, we went for label design here from Mikkellar. We paired this IPA with a smoky cheddar to offset the bitterness of the beer. TVR Review: Those of us who don't typically go for an IPA enjoyed this pairing! Why? The smokiness of the cheddar cut the bitterness of this hop heavy brew.
Photo:The Venue Report
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Saison + Comte

After the hop high of a successful pairing of the IPA and cheddar, we were feeling confident going into the next tasting. Up next was a saison and something flavorful and funky – we chose Modern Times' Saison and comte. TVR Review: In a word... pungent. Maybe our palate's are not refined enough for this duo but we did not see the glass as half full however, we tried the saison with softer cheeses (brie and goat cheese) and were ale about it. 
Photo:The Venue Report
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Sour + Goat Cheese

Next up: sour ale and goat cheese. Again, this beer is not from SD (Long Beach, close enough, right?) due to us getting caught up in the fun packaging and not the ale origin. TVR Review: This sour from Blendery was interesting because it had chili in it. Yes, chili. It was very spicy evoking a spicy marg taste however, the goat cheese was the perfect pair! While not every TVR-er liked the spicy sour, everyone could agree that the creamy cheese created a cravable combo (and had us wishing to be somewhere tropical).
Photo:The Venue Report
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Hard Cider + Smoked Gouda

Drumroll please... Introducing every single person's favorite pairing: cider and smoked gouda. Once again, a California brew, not San Diego but who's counting? The dry cider from Golden State Cider was our last pick paired with a gouda. TVR Review: The tart cider paired with the creamy cheese was ale-believable. All around, a crowd pleaser. We even think it would be very gouda with roasted chicken. 
Photo:The Venue Report
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Host Your Own Gathering

Feeling inspired? This pairing party would be a great spring and summer gathering idea to recreate at home. The fun lies in the imperfection – we didn't get it completely right each time and that's ok! It's more fun when we can take a wild ride together and experience the good... and the not-so-good. Inside tip: Add more courses to your tasting to keep the good times flowing.
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