Belgian beers and blue cheese.

We made some new friends, and heard from some old ones this week!

Haw River Farmhouse Ales came all the way from Saxapahaw, NC to see us at the bakery… and they brought beer!  Haw River specializes in Belgian-style ales made with NC creativity (and ingredients).  Haw River sources everything possible from farms within 100 miles of their brewery, from barley and wild yeast to honey and fruit sourced through their Haw River Farmhand Exchange, (which is such a cool thing and you should check it out!)

The first one I was dying to crack open was their Regent’s Rye Tripel.  This is Haw River’s take on the traditional Trappist Tripel-style ale, brewed with 100% NC-grown barley from Riverbend Malthouse in Asheville and authentic Belgian candi syrup. Crisp, bright and refreshingly dry, this Tripel uses a malted rye addition to provide a subtle spicy foundation for the yeast esters.

According to the Haw River guys, it pairs wonderfully with food.  Well, it is my job to check these things out…  Off to work!

So, I have to admit to an embarrassment of riches this week!  Not only did Haw River come by, but we also received a long-awaited package from Rouge Creamery!  The Rogue River Blue Cheese Special Reserve is here!  It is quite possibly one of the best blue cheeses I’ve ever had!  Rouge River Blue comes wrapped in grape leaves soaked in pear brandy and is tied up with string like a Christmas present ready to be cut open.  And it smells amazingly funky.  The taste is nutty and superbly tangy.  It is a smooth and creamy blue cheese, and I really enjoyed the nice texture contrast from the aged crystalline bits found inside.  The wonderfully funky aftertaste lingers just long enough after each bite.

Haw River’s Tripel stands up to the intensity of this aged blue cheese quite well.  The Rouge River Blue is already a semi-soft cheese, but when you take a sip of the Tripel wlong with it …the beer and cheese literally just melt together in your mouth creating this wonderful warming flavor.  It’s like the fanciest grilled cheese you’ve ever seen!  The Tripel’s malt flavor and warming alcohol also go nicely with the blue cheese’s pear brandy.  The slight carbonation from the beer helps clear the palate for the next bite.

All in all, a special pairing!  (In a side note, you also want to try a bit of a jam bar with a little Rouge River Blue.  It’s crazy good!)

Both Haw River’s Regent Rye Tripel and Rouge Creamery’s Rouge River Blue Special Reserve are both available at the bakery right now!  But you might want to hurry and get some blue cheese because we can’t get a lot of it.  We might eat it all!


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