NYC Summer Beer and Cheese Events!


While you can read about all kinds of great beer and food pairings here, nothing beats actually going out and doing it!  I am excited to announce several classes on Beer and Cheese, Bread and Cured Meat Pairings that I will be hosting this summer in several locales.  For ticket information, please click on the links below:

Beer on a Boat!

Want to taste beer and cheese in style this summer?  I am hosting a fantastic series of craft beer and artisanal cheeses tastings on the Classic Harbor Line yacht.  Classic Harbor Line is the premier option for an exciting cruise around the waterways of New York City.  Join us on select Mondays and Fridays as we taste five stellar East Coast beers paired with five farmstead East Coast cheeses while learning about why these fermented foods taste so good together!


Beer and Cheese Pairing Classes

Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp September 7th-9th

Boot Camp is the ultimate cheese lover’s weekend.  In two and half days, you will taste dozens and dozens of cheeses, while learning about the history and science behind cheese making.  The weekend culminates in an event where seven award winning cheeses are paired with craft beer, fine wine and real cider to decide which is the best pairing partner.  Not to be missed! 




Beer versus Wine

Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp July 13th-15th

Boot Camp is the ultimate cheese lover’s weekend.  In two and half days, you will taste dozens and dozens of cheeses, while learning about the history and science behind cheese making.  The weekend culminates in an event where seven award winning cheeses are paired with craft beer, fine wine and real cider to decide which is the best pairing partner.  Not to be missed! This event has passed.

The Harmony of Beer and Cheese Saturday, July 28th, 1pm

A introduction class to the amazing pairing possibilities of beer and cheese. Six cave aged cheeses will be paired with six of my favorite international craft brews from the brand new selection of fine craft beers now on sale at Murray’s Cheese.  A special afternoon of curds and suds, not to be missed! This event has passed.

Beer in the Park

Celebrate Belgian Restaurant Week in the heart of Central Park exploring the flavors of Belgian bread and beer!  This guided tour of Belgian beers will teach students how to identify and create different flavor profiles when pairing beers, breads and accompaniments.  Beer will be sourced from Tops Hops in the Lower East Side and bread from Le Pain Quotidien. This event has passed.



Centennial is an aroma variety hop that was released in 1990. It was derived from three-quarters Brewer’s Gold with minor contributions from Fuggle, East Kent Golding and others. It is among the most popular varieties for U.S. craft brewers for both its aromatic and bittering qualities and is sometimes referred to as a “super Cascade.”

Vital Statistics:

Alpha Acid: 9.5% to 11.5%

Humulene: 10-18%

Possible Substitutions: Amarillo, Cascade

Commercial Examples of Beer that feature Centennial Hops:  Bells Two Hearted Ale, Barrier Brewing Ruckus IPA

Hops: An Overview

The flower of the humulus lupus rhimzhone has been instrumental to the evolution of beer. The direction in which hop cultivation in America has progressed has had an amazing influence on craft beer today.  This section will focus on this significant development.  The pioneers of the American craft beer movement in the 1970’s, such as Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Anchor Brewing Company,  were instrumental in helping improve the quality of hops grown in America.  Today,  there are 41 hop varieties that make up 99% of the hops grown in the United States.  The majority of hops for commercial beer production are grown in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Some are dopplegangers of traditional European hops, while others are distinctly American.  Here is an overview of some important hop vocabulary:

Alpha Acids: The source of most of the bitterness in beer, and thus of great importance to brewers.  Hops flowers (cones) have widely varying percentages of alpha acids.   American superalpha varieties


Raison d’Etre Fig Ice Cream


It might not officially be summer yet (six more days to go!), but for someone like me with an insatiable sweet tooth it is already the season of cold, creamy desserts: ICE CREAM!!!!  Frankly, growing up from New England, it was always ice cream season even when it was ten below and snowing blizzards outside.  This recipe is an adaption of David Lebovitz’s fantastic rum raisin ice cream, from his book the Perfect Scoop.  I first served this ice cream for my family on a blisteringly hot day in July, 2011, paired with Goose Island Brewing Company Bourbon County Stout.  A knockout combination!


100 grams dried California mission figs, roughly chopped

125 ml Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre beer

180 ml whole milk

130 grams of sugar

pinch of salt

4 large egg yolks

375 ml heavy cream

Heat chopped figs and beer in a saucepan.  Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from the heat.  Cover and let stand for a few hours (or a few days if you would like a stronger flavor.)

Warm the milk, sugar, 125 ml of the heavy cream, and salt in a saucepan.  Pour remaining 125 ml cream into a separate bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warmed milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard into the reserved cream.  Stir until cool over and ice bath, then chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

When mixture is ready to freeze, add the fig and beer mixture and stir to integrate.  Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.






Japanese Craft Biru!

June 2012

Craft beer from Japan in the US?  If you are extremely lucky in some parts of this country, you are able to find the excellent and unusual beer selections from Kiuchi brewery under the name Hitachino Nest.  The adorable owl crest is one of the only craft beers exported to urban centers of the US, but there are many, many other craft breweries in Japan that never make it here at all.   As a craft beer fan living in New York, I find it mystifying annoying that most of the Japanese restaurants here still carry the ubiquitous blandly perfected lagers from Kirin or Sapporo, even though other, far superior options are readily available from local beer distributors.  A real shame.

So it was with palpably visible excitement that I mapped out some Tokyo beer lover’s destinations as my fiance and I planned a short trip to Japan.  We knew that only three days in Tokyo would be barely adequate to see the city, let alone really delve into Japanese culture. Luckily we had Shinji Nohara as our guide to the city, a knowledgeable Tokyo native who helped us jump right in. He also just happened to be a big craft beer fan!

With just a few days to see everything (some favorite non-beer spots: Koishikawa Korakuen Garden for a quiet contemplative stroll, Tokyo Hands – the “everything store”- they are not kidding!, the Tsukiji Fish Market – amazing sushi culture!, and the Sensoji Temple-the largest temple in Tokyo) we didn’t have time to go out of the city and visit a Japanese brewery, but there were dozens of excellent bars in the city serving a wide range of craft Japanese beer on draft.  More on this below!

Lots of options for drinking on the street!

Tokyo is a massive city, 30+ million inhabitants and counting, and can be a little overwhelming even for seasoned city slickers.  The public transportation system is fantastic and while complicated at first, makes getting to most locations in the city very easy.  Later at night, taxis are always an option too, but you will pay dearly for the convenience (a late night 15-20 minute ride set us back about $15USD). Long days spent shopping and sightseeing gave us a thirst that could just not be quenched by vending machine beer, although it was readily available!

So where to find amazing beer if your time in Tokyo is limited?  I would highly recommend planning pub visits by neighborhood as distances on the metro can be quite long given the size of the city.  We were lucky enough to be staying the Shibuya neighborhood, close to Roppongi meaning there were lots of great options available.  An indispensable resource both before and during the trip was the English  language website Beer in Japan.  Easily the best site for honest reviews, information and news on craft beer in Japan.  I wish there was as comprehensive and excellent a beer website for countries like Belgium or Germany….maybe one day!

beer labels from some of the many beers served at Ant n Bee
One regulator per beer – Japanese precision at its best!

On to the beer.  One of the first places we stopped was the relative new comer Ant n Bee a tiny pub downstairs from a larger, less exciting bar called “Abbots Choice”.  Opened in late November of 2011, Ant n Bee offers an all Japanese craft beer menu with 22 tap lines, small but interesting food menu and an extensive list of whiskey as well. The keg room is right next to the minuscule bar/food preparatory area and the first thing draft beer fans will notice is that every tap had its own regulator.  Draft beer geek heaven.  (After visiting a few bars in Tokyo, I discovered this is normal procedure!) Ant n Bee had great character, many interesting beers and delicious pubby food (we loved the fried octopus)!  Highly recommended, especially for smaller parties.

Ant n Bee   Address: B1F,  5-1-5,  Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tokyo  (Under Abbot’ s Choice)

Another place we went to that was the polar opposite to Ant n Bee was called Faucets, in the heart of the Shibuya shopping district maelstrom.  We tried to go to the highly recommend “British beer pub” the Aldgate a few blocks away, but they were closed for a private party.  Where Ant n Bee is cozy and intimate, Faucets is big and shiny with a slightly industrial feel.  Friendly staff and a great selection of beer 40 taps wide (the strong suits were Japanese Craft of course, and surprisingly California: Stone, Bear Republic and Ballast Point were all on draft) make it a good spot to escape the shopping mania outside.

Faucets Shibuya Tokyo Address: 1-29-1 CROSSROADSビル 2F Shoto, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Our only regret was that we did not make it to the famous Popeye Pub in Ryogoku (a solid hour plus subway ride from Shibuya with transfers necessary).  Popeye is supposedly the best beer bar in Tokyo if not in Japan!  On the list for next time.

A snapshot of the cask ale taps at Popeye – next time!


The best known and original wheat beer is hefeweizen, the wheat beer which was first produced in Germany since at least 700 B.C. . Using wheat as an ingredient in beer was the first exception made to the famous beer purity law,  the Rheinheitsgebot, in 1602 and that exception was made specifically so the nobility could continue to enjoy this style. This Bavarian style of wheat beer is pale and cloudy. It is bottled and served unfiltered so the yeast used during fermentation is still present. This special strain of yeast contributes banana and clove notes to the aroma and flavor of the beer. While many people insist on serving this style with a slice of lemon, the refreshingly sour acidity should be more than enough to quench ones thirst.

A world class Hefeweizen to try: Schneider Weisse

Introduction to Pairing Magic


Beer and cheese pairings can be truly magical, especially since it still seems to be uncharted territory for many people.  I have read many articles about why beer and cheese go well together, but the mention of beer and cheese together in a serious pairing still elicits raised eyebrows so I felt it was necessary to put in my two bits.

I find the combination of the right beer with the right cheese a magical pairing because there are so few classic combinations of beer and cheese.  Its relatively easy to find an amazing wine and cheese pairing if one sticks to geographically familiar partners, such as a good Sancerre with a well cared for Selles sur Cher (delicious!).

However because good beer can be produced with ingredients from vastly disparate parts of the world it can be a pleasant surprise when choosing a beer and a cheese each produced thousands of miles apart and finding them a great match together.

Another argument for pairing beer and cheese comes down to economics.  Lets face it, even beer produced in tinsy-tiny small amounts will inevitably be less expensive than a wine of equivalent quality.   An obscenely expensive bottle of beer in New York City will cost you $40 (for a 750 ml bottle of Deus for example) while $40 in a wine store could net you something good, or just average.

Throughout the long history of wine and beer production, wine has always been more costly to produce than beer.  There is no question that we can find a phenomenal beer to match with cheese for less than $10 per bottle which is less than most merely pedestrian bottles of vino.

Still don’t believe me?  Well, here are some real time pairings I have tried while hosting beer and cheese pairings classes at Murray’s Cheese and other venues, that will get you started on the right path.  I have listed the styles of beer and cheese before each actually pairing to provide a jumping off point for your own pairing exploration.  While the actual beer and cheese I chose to match together might not always be available, pairing beer and cheese styles that tend to go together is usually a safe, delicious bet. This section will continue to grow as we discover more amazing pairings!

German Hefeweizen and Aged Goat Cheese….Like…

Schneider-Weisse and Chevre Noir

Czech Style Pilsner and Bloomy Rinded Cheese….Like….

Lagunitas Pils and Constant Bliss– I was honestly shocked that this pairing worked as well as it did.  Think of this as an alternative to a traditional pairing of Normandy and Cider and Camembert and it will make more sense.  Good cider and good pilsner share many attributes, both are low in alcohol, balanced between sweetness and bitterness and great with bloomy rinded cheeses.  The Lagunitas Pils work especially well, since, as a Czech style Pilsner, it had a slightly maltier body than a German style pilsner which contrasts with the bitterness of bloomy rinds very nicely.

Baltic Porter and Goat Cheese…..Like…..

Sincychbroff Porter and VBC Coupole– This pairing is like pairing milk and cookies..both are great on their own and the combination is outstanding.  Baltic porters are typically fermented with lager yeasts which gives them a round, full deep flavor without the wild fruity esters that an ale yeast may produce.  This malty focused base makes for an amazing combination with a broad range of creamy, fresh cheeses.  If you don’t have a Baltic Porter on hand, a doppelbock will do admiraly as well.  Coupole, which, if you have not tried you are really missing out.  Easily one of the most amazingly consistently perfect goat cheeses being made in the USA by the talented team at Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery.

Flanders Sour Red Ale and Hard Sheeps Milk CheeseLike….

Dutchess de Borgorgone and Ossau Iraty AOC – Some pairings make me just sigh with pleasure and this is one of those pairings.  As satisfying as a Lopez del Heredia Rioja and a chunk of aged Manchego, one would assume upon tasting that Sour Flanders Red Ale and Sheep milk cheese have always been paired together.  The sweet-sour soy sauce fruitiness of this beer is the perfect contrast for this aged sheep’s milk cheese from the very south of South-East France.

Imperial IPA and Camembert.…like…

Evil Twin Before, During and After Christmas and Camembert Tremblaye

Russian Imperial Stout with Blue Cheese…..Like…

North Coast Brewing Company Old Rasputin and Colston Basset Stilton – This is one of those insanely delicious pairings that matches extreme contrasts together to create the most decadent harmony imaginable.  North Coast’s Rasputin Imperial Russian Stout is a full throttle flavor bomb of malty hoppy intensiveness befitting the the association with one of the most intense figures of recent history.  Colston Basset Stilton is considered the best example of Stilton available.  A blue cheese with class and dignity, not to mention an extremely butter, rich yielding flavor which could win over the most determined blue cheese hater.  The combination explodes in your mouth with the intensity of a Wagnerian opera: saltiness, maltiness, hoppiness, creaminess all combine for the perfect flavor combination.  Outstanding.

Leipziger Gose

Leipziger Gose actually originated in the smallish German town of Goslar in the state of Lower Saxony. Leipziger Gose was already first mentioned around 1000 AD under Emperor Otto III. Like many other beers styles (such as English Pale Ale and German Bock biers) the Goslar breweries of Leipziger Gose had to look elsewhere for a bigger market. They found those in the trade towns of Halle and Leipzig, about 100 miles East, where Leipziger Gose appeared around 1738 for the first time. By 1900 Leipzig boasted over 80 Gose houses. The spread of the bottom-fermenting pilsner style as well as economic decline of East Germany under communist regime contributed to the demise of the Leipziger Gose which was last brewed in the mid 1960s. The Gose style has seen a resurgance today, thanks to the interest of American craft brewers and the American beer import B. United, which has encouraged German breweries to produce the style once again.

A world class Leipziger Gose to try: Bayericher Bahnhof Leipziger Gose


A Düsseldorf specialty, an Altbier is a German style brown ale, the “alt” literally translates to “old” in German, and traditionally Altbiers are conditioned for a longer than normal periods of time. Other sources note that “alt” is derived from the Latin word “altus,” which means “high” and refers to the rising yeast. Take your pick, but the extended conditioning mellows out the ale’s fruitiness and produces an exceptionally smooth and delicate brew. The color ranges from amber to dark brown, medium in carbonation with a great balance between malt and hops.  “Sticke” is a stronger version of an Altbier, thus a bit more malty and hoppy to boot.

A world class Altbier to try: Uerige Alt

Berliner Weisse

Berliner Weisse is a light, sour style of German wheat beer originating in Berlin.  Huguenots may have originated the style as they traveled through France to Flanders, having first mentioned it in the 1600s. During their time, there were said to be seven hundred weissbier breweries in Berlin. Later, in 1809, Napoleon and his troops identified Berliner Weisse as the Champagne of the North. He requested the beer be served with syrup to cut its extreme level of acidity. Berliner Weisse has a barely perceptible hop content and in Germany is still usually laced with the woodruff syrup Napolean enjoyed. Fermented with ale yeast and Lactobacillus delbruckii  the bacterium contributes a dominant mouth-puckering sourness which makes it an excellent food pairing beer.  Try it with fried chicken or fried green tomatoes for an amazing pairing.

A world class Berliner Weisse to try: Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse