Last Friday night, I got to do a few of my favorite things: eat free high-quality local cheese and drink free Summit beer, yeah for me! My wife and I were invited to Summit Brewing in St. Paul to attend the launch of a local cheese-beer collaboration. The folks at Faribault Dairy made an interesting new cheese by bathing their St. Pete’s Select blue cheese in Summit Winter Ale to create “Winter Blues”.
While sipping beer and eating cheese, I was able to talk with Mark Stutrud the founder of Summit. He is a very affable gent (he does make beer for a living after all), and I voiced my opinion that in many ways, beer and food make better pairings than wine and food, especially in the realm of the cheese plate. He, of course, agreed (again, he does make beer for a living). Beer was a source of water for many people when sources were unreliable, young and old alike drank ale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I digress. My point is that beer has always been "for the people," just as cheese has been (cheese-making originated as a simple way for farmers to store milk for later consumption). Bathing cheese with beer is nothing new; the monks at Chimay have been making its beer-bathed cheese since 1862. So, it is not a zany new idea, it just has not been done with Minnesota beer and cheese before. Being as provincial as I am, I got very excited to try two products, which I consume plenty of, together in harmony.
Back to the cheese, I found that the new Winter Blues has a smooth flavor with stronger ale notes on pieces from the outer portion of the wheel while pieces taken from the inner-core of the cheese have just a hint of ale while retaining its piquancy. Winter Blues will be available on February 20, for a limited time, and sold exclusively at Lunds and Byerly's stores. According to a Lund’s source, only about 100 wheels of the cheese where made, so if you want to try something new and wholly local, run out and get some. Don’t forget the Summit!