Spaulding Gray Sits Down with Beer Enthusiast, Mike Wright – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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Spaulding Gray Sits Down with Beer Enthusiast, Mike Wright

In my first one-on-one interview, I traveled to the beautiful seaside town of Laguna Beach, California and sat down with Beer Enthusiastic, Mike Wright. Mike also has a keen knowledge of specialty cheeses. It seemed a terrific combination to compare Mike’s cheese and beer pairing suggestions with those I have offered up on my beer, cheese and food pairing chart.

In the spirit of total disclosure, Mike is also the younger brother of The Man.

Spaulding  Gray/Feline Foodie: Mike, first of all, thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to sit down one-on-one with me to discuss your love of both beer and cheese. I thought we could start with a couple of straightforward cheeses and progress to a few that are more complex and might present a challenge, even for someone with as sophisticated palate as yours.

First up. What beer would you pair with a smoked Gouda?

Mike Wright: My first thought would be to discover if the Gouda was naturally smoked or injected with smoke flavor. Because your blog features specialty and artisan cheeses, I would choose Wisconsin’s Maple Leaf Smoked Gouda  (not yet reviewed here) which is naturally smoked over hickory chips to add just the right smoldering flavor of hickory embers to the creamy, otherwise mild Gouda. I enjoy allowing the cheese to sit on my palate until it begins to almost melt from the warmth of my tongue and then I take a sip of an American classic and let the barley, rice, hops and yeast chase the Gouda taste. Quite a pairing. Yes. I would pair Smoked Gouda with Bud Light.

SG/FF. Bud Light. I was expecting something more complex even when paired with a simple, unpretentious cheese such as Smoked Gouda. I’m sure my readers will also have some thoughts on this pairing.

My next cheese choice is Chaumes, a semi-soft cheese from France. Mike, what beer would you chose to pair with Chaumes?

MW:  Chaumes is based upon traditional Trappist monk-style cheeses, such as Port Salut, which I believe you reviewed recently. You paired the Port de Salut, its proper name incidentally, with amber ale such as Chimay White which is made at the Trappist Abbey de Chimay.  I can see why you chose such a pairing; the mild taste and the semi-soft creaminess mixes well with the strong, almost sinfully sweetness of the Chimay White. I suppose there are other Beer Enthusiasts who would make the same type pairing with Chaumes. However, I feel the barley, rice, hops and yeast found in Bud Light to be a much better pairing with Chaumes.

SG/FF: Hmmm; again an interesting and surprising choice. Well, as long as we are in the Monk-crafted, or inspired, arena, let’s get your take on one of The Favorites of The Lady, Le Timanoix. As I am sure you know, this cheese is made at the Abbey de Timadeuc in the Brittany region of France. My choice would be a dark ale. But I am curious as to yours with this exquisite little Tomme of cheese.

MW: Interesting that you pick another cheese similar in texture to Port de Salut. I would think you might be able to think outside the box and explore other style cheeses. Two washed-rinds in a row and especially one that in some circles is considered a direct descendent of Port de Salut… oh well, not much of a challenge other than to add into my equation the walnut liqueur used to wash the rind… Taking into consideration of how the barley, rice, hops and yeast overtones of this American lager mix with the walnut undertones of the cheese, I’ll go with Bud Light.

SG/FF: (Talk about not thinking outside the box…oops, did I say that outloud…) All right, let’s mix it up a bit. How would you take an American classic such as Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar and find just the right beer to enhance its sharp taste and crumbly texture?

MW: Piece of cake. One American Classic deserves another American Classic. Bud Light.

SG/FF: I see a pattern here. Maybe it has something to do with cow milk cheese. Let’s turn to a Spanish Classic, Manchego, made with sheep milk.

MW: A Spanish Classic deserves only the best in American Classics, Bud Light.

SG/FF: The King of Cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano?

MW: The King of Beers, Bud Light.

SG/FF: Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Coupole made with goat milk?

MW: Bud Light.

SG/FF: Fiscalini Farmstead Mature Cheddar?

MW: Bud Light.

SG/FF: Beecher’s No Woman?

MW: Now that is an interesting cheese. As you may recall, The Lady sent me a triangle to try as it is not available in Southern California and I found the Jamaican spices to be quite fascinating when making a beer choice. But with No Woman, again, I go with Bud Light.

SG/FF: Roth Kase Gran Cru Gruyere?

MW: Bud Light.

SG/FF: BelGioioso Fontina?

MW: Bud Light.

SG/FF: Mike, I want to thank you for your time today and before we conclude our interview, I have one more question. Have you ever found a cheese that doesn’t pair perfectly with Bud Light?

MW: Not yet.

So there you have it, my loyal readers, Mike Wright, Beer Enthusiastic, has never met a cheese that doesn’t pair with Bud Light. That gives me some beer for thought…

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