|Steve Jones and crew slices hundreds of pieces of cheese in advance of the fest|
The first of what will likely be many Portland Beer and Cheese Fests took place this past Sunday at The Commons Brewery and proved to be a hit with the diverse crowd that ranged from the usual beer geek suspects to those interested in discovering new and interesting pairings. I hate to admit it, but I may love cheese as much as I love coffee and beer. Sadly, coffee does not go as well with cheese as beer does, and thus the Portland Beer and Cheese Fest pairing was a natural.
A small line formed ahead of the 1pm start time outside of the unassuming warehouse space on SE 10th and Stephens. Volunteers took their places and CHOP Butchery & Charcuterie set up an amazing spread of snacks, including fennel sausage, sopressata, andouille, pheasant, chicken liver mousse, garlic and black pepper pickles, and crostini and crackers, among others. Samples came free with an event ticket, and I was more than happy to indulge.
10 beers were poured with 10 carefully-chosen cheeses. Many of the brewers were in attendance to showcase their creations. Among the crowd and volunteer pourers were Matt Van Wyk (Oakshire Brewing), Nick Arzner (Block 15 Brewing), Jason Kahler (Solera Brewery), Ben Dobler (Widmer), Van Havig (Gigantic Brewing), Olivia from Hopworks, and, of course, Mike Wright, co-founder and host at The Commons Brewery.
|Check out that amazing spread by Chop|
One of my favorite pairings were Solera Brewery's lemony tart Grisette with tangy Sartori Bellavitano cheese. Gigantic Brewing's Rauchweizen and the Bandit went oh so well with the very salty and savory Willamette Valley Cheese Co. Brindisi. Hopworks' new Abbey Ale was wonderfully complemented by a fruity and creamy Uniekaas Vintage Grand Ewe, a sheep's milk cheese from Holland. Perhaps the most challenging pairing of all was Oakshire's incredibly bitter hoppy Perfect Storm double IPA, which needed something very bold to stand up to it, and was matched and slightly overtaken by Hook's 5-Year Cheddar, a super sharp rich and creamy cheese. Another aspect to the fest that I enjoyed is that it was not filled with special or rare beers, many were common everyday offerings from the brewery. Still, the combination of these beers with well-chosen cheese pairings made them more exciting than the latest barrel-aged sour or what have you.
I look forward to helping to organize next year's Portland Beer and Cheese Fest, where we hope to allow a few more ticket sales and organize a pre-fest Beer and Cheese Dinner with local cheesemakers and brewers.
|Mike Wright, Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Steve Jones|