Cheese and beer make the perfect marriage, according to UC Davis food science experts.
On Saturday, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI) will host its third annual Cheese Loves Beer event. The event will include lectures about the diversity of beer and the evolution and variety of cheeses around the world, followed by a cheese and beer tasting.
“We look for exactly what the diner is looking for: a delicious [combination],” said Charles Bamforth, professor of food science and technology and event speaker, in an e-mail interview. “I have to say that this can sometimes be serendipity. But by knowing the key flavor notes in a beer, so can a cheese be identified that will marry with it.”
Bamforth will speak about the diversity of beer and the ways in which this diversity is achieved. He will also discuss the delights of beer flavor differentiation and the skill of the brewer – particularly those trained at UC Davis.
Moshe Rosenberg, professor of food science and technology, said that he will discuss the evolution of sheep milk cheeses and the rich variety of those cheeses available today. He will include unique pictures from different parts of the world that will illustrate how the cheeses were made hundreds of years ago.
Lastly, the event will conclude with a cheese and beer pairing and tasting. The identities of the pairs will be unknown until the day of the event.
“It has become a tradition that we present it like matchmaking,” Rosenberg said. “The cheeses are the brides – I’m the master of the brides – and the beers are the grooms – and Charlie Bamforth is master of the grooms. We will have eight couples, and the identity of the couples will be revealed at the event. It will be their official introduction.”
The best beer and cheese combination is mostly based on an individual’s personal preference, Rosenberg said. However, he recommends Italian cheeses like pecorino with fruity beers, and Spanish cheeses like idiazábal with stout beer.
“It depends on what the specific person is looking for,” Rosenberg said. “You can taste any cheese with different beers. Every combination will give you a different taste perception – it’s on an individual basis.”
Bamforth and Rosenberg both noted that beer is a better suitor for cheese than wine. Wine may overpower the taste of the cheese, Rosenberg said.
“A good pair complements one another in what they bring to the dining experience,” Bamforth said. “This can be through the flavor of one reinforcing that of the other, or through the myriad, but different, aroma elements of each combining together to deliver to the palate an experience that cannot be achieved by either alone. And when you realize the enormous diversity in beer types and flavors and strengths, you will see why the opportunities for this marriage are far better for beer.”
Beer is not the only complementary drink to cheese, Rosenberg said. He recommends that people also eat cheese with ciders and fruit juices.
Similarly, cheese is not the only food item that is highly recommended with beer, Bamforth said.
“The selection is enormous. In fact, almost unlimited,” he said. “From white sausage and pretzel with hefeweissen for breakfast to chocolate cake and barley wine for dessert after supper … Think Singha with Thai Red Curry. Think Bass Ale with roast beef. Think Bock with hot wings.”
Tickets for the event are $45 for UC Davis affiliates, $55 for the public and $65 on the day of the event. While the tickets are currently sold out, Clare Hasler, executive director at RMI, noted that people who are still interested should check with staff members to see if there have been any cancellations.
“It’s one of the highlights of the year and it’s very, very enjoyable,” Hasler said.
MARTHA GEORGIS can be reached at email@example.com.