Historically, the act of pairing cheese with a beverage has been dominated by the fermented grape and for good reason. The complexities in wine are often brought to the surface when tasted alongside certain cheeses that work to expose the unique flavors in each.
However, with the steady boom of craft beer in Los Angeles, cheesemonger Alex Ourieff of Vagabond Cheese Co. had a different idea. He wanted to take the aspects that everyone loves about cheese pairings and bring that unique experience to the beer community. And over the last couple years, regular beer and cheese pairings at your local LA breweries have taken hold. If you thought wine and cheese made a good pair, then beer and cheese takes it to a whole new level.
The Rise of Pairing Beer and Food
It’s not like these types of pairings are anything new. It’s just that we’re starting to see it a lot more these days. There’s places like Eagle Rock Brewery Public House and The Local Peasant that allow their amazing chefs to team up with local brewers for multi-course beer dinners on a regular basis. This recent piece by John Verive examines the delicious world of donuts and beer. And the Valentine’s Day collaboration between Smog City and Lovesome chocolates joined Lovesome’s Chili Sea Salt Orange Chocolate with Smog City’s Peach and Apricot Sour Blonde Ale, Cuddlebug, among many others.
And so, beer and food pairings are a thing. A really amazing thing actually, and one that is elevated when the brewer and chef/curator are on hand to lead the discussion. It’s one thing to assume that there is intention behind the pairings, and another thing to actually learn what that intention actually is.
With Vagabond’s beer pairings, you’re not just getting a random set of whatever cheeses are on hand. Alex visits each brewery in advance of the event, tastes through the beers and then thoughtfully matches one of his cheeses with each brew. The result is a different type of beer and cheese pairing for each event, whether that’s at his regular appearances at Transplants Brewing in Palmdale and Progress Brewing in El Monte, or for special events like the one we went to at Cellador Ales for LA Beer Week.
Pairing Cellador Ales with Vagabond Cheese Co.
At the Cellador event, Kevin, Sara, and Alex put together a more intimate experience, walking through each pairing one by one, allowing time for all of us participants in Cellador’s barrel room to experience the pairing on our own, and then came around to offer deeper conversations not only around “what” we were eating and drinking, but “why”. With combinations like a wild saison aged in wine barrels with blackberries and a blue cheese made with raw cow’s milk, our palates were in for a wild ride.
These types of events are not just once-in-a-while special occasions either. Vagabond features beer and cheese pairing events at breweries around LA almost weekly and we regularly feature beer dinners with local breweries like Cellador and others on our events calendar. Be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter (look above, below, and to the side of this article!) and we’ll let you know about the next Vagabond beer and cheese pairing or Cellador beer dinner near you.