There's nothing quite like a plate of artisan cheese and a chilled (but not too cold) glass of beer to make you feel like you're living the good life. And to keep it simple. Beer and cheese. They are gifts from nature that satisfy the soul.
While Colorado doesn't have nearly as much of a cheese culture as it does a beer scene, there are a few local creameries churning out some quality curds, as evidenced by some recent accolades at this year's American Cheese Society's Awards.
Here are five fantastic, locally produced cheeses and the beers that go with them:
5. Haystack Queso De Mano This award-winning, raw goat's milk cheese is perfectly snackable. It's aged for four months making it hard in texture, and subtly fruity in flavor. The slight nuttiness from the raw milk pairs well with tart fruit beers like the Raspberry Ale from Great Divide (and fellas, don't be afraid to embrace your inner fruit-beer-lover. Many of them pair wonderfully with food, and it's not unmanly by any means to eat and drink well).
4. MouCo ColoRouge A washed rind cheese with tons of funk in the nose, it might offend those who aren't used to the stench of a good cheese, but the smell is slightly misleading. ColoRouge is rich and creamy, and almost sweet, making it decadent and dessert-like. Its sweetness is accentuated by a strong malty beer such as Avery Brewing's Beast, a Grand Cru more akin to liqueur than beer, in a good way.
3. Avalanche Midnight Blue This goat's milk blue cheese is aged for two to four months, making it a subdued version of the normally pungent style. It's a meaty cheese, crumbly and pleasantly tangy, and a perfect companion to a big, creamy imperial stout. Ten-Fidy from Oskar Blues fits that bill.
2. Haystack Camembert Traditionally a style made with cow's milk, this award-winning goat's milk variation has the same buttery flavor, but is nicely punctuated by a slight tanginess from the goat milk. It has a creamy texture that pairs especially well with a sweet, fizzy brown ale, and Upslope Brewery brews a seriously solid one.
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1. Avalanche Cabra Blanca Easily the best cheese from arguably the best creamery in the state, this aged semi-soft goat's milk cheese is slightly fruity, with just a touch of barnyard funk. It's a complex cheese that's best at room temperature, when all of its flavors can present themselves. Wheat beers tend to complement goat's milk cheeses, and this is certainly the case with Dry Dock Brewing's Hefeweizen, a hazy golden ale that's perfectly executed.