A few months back I bought tickets for a sailing tour around NYC which included a New York State beer and cheese pairing hosted by Chelsea Brewing Company’s Beer Ambassador, Ian Phillips. The tickets were bought as a birthday present for someone who loves to sail, eat cheese and most importantly drink beer so I knew that we would have a great time and I am happy to report that the trip greatly exceeded both of our expectations.
Our boat, the Imagine
We boarded the beautiful schooner Imagine at Chelsea Piers and after a quick intro & safety speech, the sail started as promised right at 7pm. Using the boat’s motor we made our way into the main waters of the Hudson as our beer & cheese guide Ian began to tell us about our first pairing of the evening: Checker Cab Blonde Ale paired with NY State Cheddar from Adam’s, NY. The beer was a wonderful start to the evening. It was light enough to ease your palette into the beer tasting but strong enough to make you want more. The beer was a variety of light Kolsch, a German inspired beer which has a distinct flavoring of hops but not so much to overpower the beer entirely. It’s cheese pairing that evening was a mellow cheddar, aged only one year. Although the flavor was not intense you could certainly smell how fresh and smooth the cheese would be and it certainly lived up to those expectations.
Beer & cheese pairings for the evening
Sails going up
Soon we were cruising and it was time to put up the sails which by itself is entertainment, but was especially exciting on a windy night like we had that evening. Once the sails were up and everyone found their balance it was time for more beer. Since the pairings were ordered to get darker as we went along next up was Chelsea Brewing Company’s Sunset Red Ale. Because most red ales include roasted barely (i.e. malt) they tend to have a toasted flavoring which can be off putting to some. This beer, however, was very smooth yet had a substantial amount of malt which gave it a hearty taste. The end finished a bit sweet on the tongue as well which gave the beer more complexity. Ian chose to pair this beer with a raw cow’s milk cheese prepared in an Italian style known as Caciotta. A semi soft cheese, it’s rind is rubbed in olive oil and tomato paste which gives it a bright and slightly salty finish. The cheese is made on Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville, NY and served in various stores & restaurants throughout the state. Check out the Dancing Ewe Farm site to read about Jody Sommer’s wonderful journey into the art of making cheese.
Statue of Liberty
As our taste buds were delighted by beer and cheese our senses where indulged further by the fascinating nighttime views of the New York harbor and city skyline. We passed Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty standing tall in the clear night sky overlooking the amazing city she watches over. A concert was happening over on Governor’s Island and the sounds of music and people’s echoing voices filled the air. As we turned the corner, the Brooklyn Bridge appeared with an almost full moon hovering above it. It was amazing to see the city from such an alternate view, looking out across the buildings instead of straight up to the top.
Once the boat started to make its way back, sailing past Battery City and the Financial District, our last beer and cheese of the evening was presented to us. Perhaps because some stouts have such a rich malt flavor reminiscent of chocolate, I often consider stouts a dessert beer so Ian’s choice of Gotham Stout was very fitting. The stout was nice and smooth yet was strong enough to hold up to the strong blue goat’s milk cheese it was paired with. The cheese was Cayuga Blue and is produced by Lively Run Goat Dairy in the Finger Lake area of NY.
As the ship began to dock back at Chelsea Piers I was sad that such a fantastic night was over but excited to have tried so many new delicious things and to learn new ways of thinking about cheese pairings and the possibilities there are with different beers.
I really do love New York
If you are interested in touring NYC by boat visit the Classic Harbor Line.