Look at what I found in the fridge today! The amazing Bijou from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, and the equally wonderful Pepe Nero from Goose Island Beer Co. (a unit of some big company that used to be based in St. Louis).
First the beer: Pepe Nero is a black saison-style beer. Goose says it is made with peppercorns and that it has sweet malt and roasty flavors. I like the beer a lot, but I get more of a bready/fruity yeast flavor with a hint of roast and a suggestion of pepper at best. It’s a highly carbonated beer with a light-bodied effervescence. Mine poured with a huge tan head, and that fruity/bready aroma. Fruity, slightly malty flavors, as I expected.
Next the cheese: Oh, we could write an entire article about this cheese and its siblings, but I will be brief. This is a French goat cheese made in America, and it is SO GOOD! The geotrichum rind is wrinkly like a brain. As with any good soft-ripened cheese there is a gooey, soft segment just under that rind, and then, the creamy and firmer (depending on how ripe the cheese is) center. Bijou smells like a forest and mushrooms and it tastes like truffles and cream, with a a bit of tangy acidity on the finis. The texture is super-dense, creamy.
Beer and cheese together: I tasted the cheese by itself and with some maple syrup and black pepper (nice accompaniment). I chased the cheese with the Pepe and then swished them around together. The flavors were pleasant together but with or without the maple and pepper they did not create anything startlingly new. Bijou is SO dense and creamy, that the effervescent beer seems to slide off of it. This cheese may need something with a richer body and more sweetness or roast—maybe a dubbel or a brown ale or porter. Pepe Nero might be better suited for a fresh chevre. That said, these two are so good that I will still give the paring a four out of five.