One of my favorite things to do is crack open Garrett Oliver’s book, “The Brewmaster’s Table” and recreate food and beer pairings. There is a section in the book that talks about a beer and wine pairing competition that Garrett participated against a wine Sommelier. In this competition, he paired an English Barley Wine from J.W. Lees with Stilton Blue Cheese. So, when I saw the bottle shop that I work at carrying J.W. Lees, I immediately bought some and ran over to our local cheese shop, Southern Whey.
For my first attempt, I broke out the J.W. Lees Harvest Series, aged in Port Casks, brewed in 2013. The beer by itself is fantastic. The port casks really impart a great aroma and flavor that blends perfectly with the traditional aromas and flavors of the English Barley Wine style. Dark dried fruits, intense caramel malt flavors and a vinious alcohol element all mix together on your palate.
The Stilton Blue Cheese has a strong, pungent aroma and even stronger flavors. The J.W. Lees Barley Wine’s intense character was a perfect match to handle the equally intense Stilton. For me, matching the intensity of both beer and food is the most important element of any pairing. This pairing has me looking forward to trying the other variations of the J.W. Lees Barley Wines in my beer cellar!
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want any food and beer pairing support for events or even just some advice for personal food and beer pairings at home.