I like beer. I like cheese. A cheese ripened with beer. OK. I’ll give it a go.
That sounds like bravado. it isn’t really. Other than novelty cheeses [yes, you Wensleydale with Cranberries. And you, layered cheeses], I will try anything twice.
This is a cheese from the north of France, near to St Aubin from a farm called, rather dramatically, La Ferme du Pont des Loups or the Farm of Wolf Bridge.
You know how I like a good ancient saint. St Aubin, or St Albinus of Angers, is a pretty good one. He has some fine legends about getting people out of prison. In one story he tried to get a woman called Etherie released after she was imprisoned by King Childebert. His negotiations failed so he went off to visit Etherie in prison only for the prison guard to drop dead at Albinus’s feet. This was seen as a triumph of his power and Etherie was released. In another legend, he prayed all night for the release of some men. In the morning, the wall of their prison cell collapsed and they escaped. The most important thing you need to know about St Albinus is that you invoke his help when you are threatened by pirates. Don’t forget.
It’s a relatively new cheese, dating from the 1990s. It’s made from unpasteurised cows’ milk. The cheese is then brushed with beer [there is a version that is brushged with cider] and is then given a coating of fine breadcrumbs. I have no idea which beer it is but I guess that it’s not Kronenbourg or something equally pointless. It’s a relatively small cheese which weighs about 170g and comes wrapped in plastic which I found a little odd. I expect that this slows the maturation of the cheese and allows it to be more standardised but it also removes the stage of affinage that may0 not be carried out by the cheesemaker but by the affineur, who will bring the cheese to its proper stage of maturity. Obviously, depending on the affineur, you will get slight variations on the same cheese.
The crust of the cheese is a nice pale orange, much like many of the other washed rind cheeses of northern France such as the Maroilles or the Pont l’Eveque. The cheese is relatively soft under the skin and gives lightly to the touch. The crust is not sticky like other washed rind cheeses, I suppose thanks to the breadcrumbs.
The paste is a pale ivory with some eyes, or spaces, throughout and the aroma is, like such cheeses, stronger than the taste. It is a mild, creamy cheese with a slightly yeasty hint and a slight sweetness and you can eat the paste and rind. Although you can obviously eat this accompanied by a wine, this is a cheese from the North, not far from Belgium. I’d take this with a good beer, perhaps not so strong as it to drown the delicate flavour. Try a decent blonde, ambre or Biere de Garde.