We’ve all heard of the classic pairing that is wine and cheese, but have you ever considered attending a full fledged exploration of fancy cheeses from around the world paired with local craft beers instead of wine?
“What’s interesting is that beer is actually better at pairing with food than wine,” says Buttonwoods Brewery Co-owner Morgan Snyder Jr. “It just so happens, coincidentally, that the French being the primary producers of cheese also are the primary producers of wine. So they pushed wine and cheese, but beer with its carbonation and variety of textures can actually pair better.”
Buttonwoods Brewery, on Wellington Ave, has paired up with fellow Cranston business, Edgewood Cheese Shop, located on Broad Street, to combine a selection of the brewery's locally crafted beers with carefully selected cheese pairing meant to bring out the best in both.
“This is our third or fourth event here, and it’s different every time because we switch up the beers and we pair different cheeses,” said Edgewood Cheese Shop Owner Adrienne D’Arconte. “People seem to really enjoy it. Everyone thinks of wine and cheese but we’re so lucky here in Rhode Island with so many wonderful craft breweries like Buttonwoods. It’s really the same concepts that you’re trying to pair things with. There is so much variety and great quality of beer that it seems like a really natural process to either match or contrast those flavors.”
Buttonwoods Brewery and Edgewood Cheese shop have teamed up together for events such as this several times in the past and according to both the events have proven a success in multiple ways. By working together to showcase their products and demonstrate a new way of thinking about the pairing of beer and cheese, customers can find an entirely new way to enjoy both.
“I go to Edgewood Cheese Shop,” Lori Cutter said as she excitedly waited for the first pairing. “We’ve been to a few events like this and they’ve been fun. I’ll drink anything you pair with cheese.”
Champagne and brie, port wine and stilton and other staples of wine and cheese pairings find some serious competition when compared to this new style of tasting that Edgewood Cheese Shop and Buttonwoods Brewery have put on together.
Despite your feelings on the standard wine and cheese combination, the interesting pairings of flavor between beer and cheese had a life and value all their own. A sherry grey, a double-cream vegetable ash-ripened soft-rinded cheese, paired delightfully with Undeclared Major, a dry hopped lager brewed on site.
“We’re tasting things a little differently than when you eat cheese at home,” D’Arconte explained. “We’re really going to try to experience it more and use all of our senses. We’re going to look at the cheese, smell the cheese and then look at the beer and smell the beer. We’re going to taste them alone, together, and we’re going to taste and feel how it feels in our mouth.”
The pairing of businesses were clearly working to create a pairing focused on bring out the best in both their beer and cheese, and themselves. While each cheese and beer were chosen carefully to go together as would be the case in any fine wine and cheese tasting, the lighthearted energy and fun-loving spirits of the two businesses was just as much a focus as the tantalizing flavors dazzling the tongues of those in attendance.
“It’s actually named after a misheard song lyric,” Snyder Jr. said about his Serenade Silence IPA. “It was from ‘The Girl was a Straight up Hustler’, by… I can’t even remember the name of the band. It was a stupid combination of words and I can’t even remember what the actual words are but they stuck with me.”
Paired with a sweet and salty white Stilton dotted with bits of dried mango and candied ginger throughout, you didn’t need to be a fan of IPAs or crumbly English cheeses to see why they went so well together. Bitter hoppy notes from the beer were perfectly balanced against the sweet fruity notes of the mango and the light spicy flavor of the ginger.
Those looking to host their own tasting night are in luck. Edgewood cheese shop is particularly keen on helping those looking to host their own cheese pairings with both advice and patience for those who swing by their shop. Crafted and pre-made cheese boards, charcuterie boards and a wealth of knowledge, passion and experience in the world of cheese are waiting for any customer ready to make the plunge into a world of dairy far more exciting than the selection of cheeses you’ll find at your local grocery store.
“We get new cheeses every week, so there is always something new to find and discover,” D’Arconte said. “We want you to go home with things you love. One of our favorite things we have is the gift of cheese. You buy a card for someone and they can come each month and pick out a half-pound of whatever they like. I can always tell when someone with the card walks in the door because their eyes just light up.”
Cheese and beer pairings aren’t the only events you can find at Buttonwoods Brewery. The brewery often hosts local food trucks, has trivia nights hosted by bartender Sean Fitts and will even be hosting a drag brunch on Sunday, March 12 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets to the brunch can be purchased on the brewery’s website, www.buttonwoodsbrewery.com, or in person on the day of the event for just $10 and each ticket includes your first beer or “beermosa.”