Fair Winds Brewing – Lorton, Virginia

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Today was a beautiful day and we took advantage of it.  We ventured out to Fair Winds Brewing in Lorton, Virginia with our selection of cheeses, eager to do some pairings.

The brewery has only been open since early March, but we had heard some really great things about their brews.  The space itself is bigger than it would seem from the outside and is very inviting.  There is a ton of natural light spilling in from the windows and the staff is happy to see you come in.

Our first beer was the Quayside Kolsch.  What a lovely beer!  We’ve tasted quite a few beers of this style and we agreed this is at the top of our list.  The beer had a nice malt backbone.  We paired it with the Cypress Grove Midnight Moon aged chevre.  The cheese brought forward the floral notes without overpowering the beer as goat cheese can sometimes do.

Next in the line up was the Following Cs Pale Ale.  On it’s own, the pale ale was what you would typically expect.  We paired it with the Boar’s Head Butterkase and wow!  The Cascade hops were front and center.  The cheese also gave a slight sweetness to the beer we didn’t expect.

Probably one of our favorite pairings was the Cypress Grove chevre and butterkase with the Howling Gale IPA.  The Butterkase pulled forward the background caramel notes, whereas the chevre brought forward the more floral, earthy tones in the brew.  It was really great to get two different results from the same beer.

The Bulkhead brown is a super dark brown ale, full of roasted walnut and pecan undertones typical in a beer of this style.  We like this beer best with Yancy’s Fancy Double Cream New York Aged Cheddar.  The high butter fat content of the cheese really accentuated the nuttiness and gave a great mouth feel to the beer itself.

Last but not least was the Flemish Stout.  This stout is definitely not like any we’ve had before.  Brewed with Belgian yeast, this beer has a very light coffee aroma with a hint of soured yeast on the nose.  On the palate, the beer had a great mouth feel with muted hop undertones and a slight chocolate flavor.  Because the flavors in this brew are so subtle, it was really hard to find a cheese to compliment it, but the Cheesy Beer Wench never gives up.  After a bit of experimentation, the Cypress Grpve Midnight Moon was the clear winner.  The cheese didn’t overpower the subtleness of the flavors, but rather complimented them and giving a richer mouth feel to the beer.

We really enjoyed our visit to Fair Winds and are very excited to go back when they introduce new brews.  Until then, we will be looking out for the Quayside and Howling Gale on tap in the area.

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March Madness: Time To Purge!

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You know how sometimes life gets in the way of a good thing?  That happened to me!  It seems like forever since I’ve written about my beer and cheese adventures.  After some thought, we decided a purge of the beer and cheese lingering in our refrigerator was in order.  We’ve really missed sharing our thoughts with all of you and are eager to get back on track.

First beer up is a very lovely Oatmeal Stout from Swover Creek Farm Brewery in Edinburg, Virginia.  If you get a chance to visit, please do!  Right now they are brewing and serving right out of their house, but are in the process of building a tasting room.  We paired this with several cheeses, but the best pairing by far was with an aged Gouda.  We’d love to tell you who made the cheese, but the label has been lost 🙂  The cheese brought forward the coffee and roasted notes very nicely.

Rogue Brewing has just released for Spring 2015 a Wit brewed with pumpkin and wheat called Pumpkin Savior.  I never thought we’d be drinking a pumpkin beer in the spring, but it’s actually very nice!  Definitely is not like the spice laden brews you find in the fall.  There is a hint of spices on the finish, but it’s not overwhelming. And if you’re a hater of sweet pumpkin beers, this is the one for you. The Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese cancels out the pumpkin and spice flavors, leaving you with a really great Wit beer flavor on the finish. It also pulls forward some of the rye flavor in the background. We then tried the beer with some Bellavitano Gold by Sartori. We picked up some citrus notes which were quite pleasant.

Next up was a Belgian Farmhouse Ale by Southern Tier called Grand Arbor. This one has been bottle conditioned and brewed with maple syrup. Oddly, you really don’t taste the maple at all. The bottle notes suggested an earthy cheese, so we grabbed some UnieKaas Truffled Gouda. If you are a fan of bitter beers, then pair this cheese with this beer. It really accentuates the bitter notes in the beer. Just for fun, we then paired the beer with Saint Angel from Guilloteau. Saint Angel is a really nice French triple crème cheese. This had the opposite effect on the beer. The cheese managed to bring out the sweet underlying banana notes usually found in Belgian beers, but then the maple appears on the finish!

Last beer of the evening was the Tenebris Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels from Adroit Theory in Purcellville, Virginia.  This brew has a real kick to it, but a pleasant sweetness you expect to find in a barrel aged beer.  The first cheese pairing was a Camembert from Ile de France.  It really complimented the beer without changing the flavors at all.  Truly a very nice pairing.  Even better, the St. Angel turns this wonderful brew into a dessert beer.  It pulls all of the latent bourbon sweetness right to the front of your palette.  By far this was the best pairing of the evening.

We are happy to be able to get back to our normal beer and cheese tasting routine!  We promise it won’t be so long in between posts next time.  And if it is, raid your fridge!  You might be surprised and the pairings you can come up with spur of the moment.