Shropshire Blue is a full-fat cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Its orange color sets it apart from most blues out there. It has a smooth consistency that is not quite as creamy as that of Stilton. It is strong and sharp with a pronounced salty flavor and a tangy aroma.
My first inclination was to try a double IPA for this pairing, but a coworker convinced me that the characteristics of the cheese did not call for a beer that big, so I started small. My first choice was Hale’s Pale Ale (Seattle, WA). This beer has some malt sweetness that presented a nice counterpoint to the sharpness of the cheese, but unfortunately the assertive hops had a serious disagreement with the Shropshire’s saltiness.
Up next was Pike’s Naughty Nellie Golden Ale (Seattle, WA). This combination was acceptable in that neither participant overwhelmed the other, but that’s really just because they really had no reason to even talk.
My final choice was Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA. It’s got a nice, bready malt flavor contrasted by citrusy hops, and compared to many American IPA offerings is a refreshingly well-balanced beer. The sweetness of the malt complemented the slight nuttiness of the cheese while providing a counterpoint to its sharpness, and the hops bitterness was just enough to aid the carbonation in scrubbing my palate for the next bite. While not quite a mariage parfait, this is definitely a good pairing, and the more I ate and drank, the more it grew on me.
The winner: Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA.