This is the first time I've tried to properly enjoy cheese with beer. Result? Resounding success.
Thoroughly enjoyable interplay of flavours, and most of all, a very satisfying mix of textures, with the crumbly red cheddar from Dubliner washed beautifully away by the rich full bodied St Bernardus Abt 12. The salty tanginess (a word I've just fabricated) of the cheese really helps intensify the fruit and deep malts of the Abt 12.
It's definitely worth noting that I know absolutely nothing about cheese. We've only ever had cheddar cheese in our fridge, and until now, my consumption and enjoyment of the stuff has been exclusively as an ingredient of pizza. Apart from that, I've never even considered enjoying cheese as a foodstuff all on it's own. Granted, my cheese of choice is far from a 'specialist cheese', but it is a decent strong cheddar, and may serve as a Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada-type 'gateway cheese', if you follow me. Even now, for this tasting experiment, I brought salted crackers with me, in case the cheese thing went tits up and I needed a buffer. However, I now think I'll be leaving the crackers...
My eventual inspiration to try cheese with beer came when I was browsing the Chimay website. As someone who almost gagged at the thought of rich, strong, unctuous cheese all my life (I've always been a man of rather plain tastes) I was astonished to find myself looking at the wheels of Chimay cheese pictured online and practically drooling. Mind you, there's still a line I won't cross; anything with blue or green mould in it is still too far for now, but we'll see where this beer and cheese exploration takes me.
Who knows, I might be gobbling rinds of creamy, stinky blue cheese in no time...
Another discovery of the night is that after trying the Gulden Draak again I've decided that it's a great beer, and a very tasty one, but it just doesn't get the call-up to my dream team of beer.
Finally, the beer and cheese proved a delicious and satisfying accompaniment to some Game of Thrones - seriously, I'm starting to question why I would ever leave the house. I encourage you to try this asap - a great beer, some cheese and a novel - pure luxury.