Beer Tasting and Pairing: IPA and Cheesecake
When you read the title of this post, you probably think you are going to get a recipe for cheesecake and a review on IPA beer. Well you would be correct! But why IPA and cheesecake in the same post?? These two items actually pair extremely nicely together!! I found a very simple and tasty Cheesecake recipe to go with this blog post; since I wanted to really focus on the beer and how the cheesecake worked well with it, I decided not to fuss with making my own recipe for cheesecake – and knew a fellow blogger had a recipe I wanted to try anyways. The recipe is so good that it confirmed my decision to not develop my own!
I was recently at an event called Corks and Kegs, a charity event for the Parkland Food Bank. I had the opportunity to sample beer, wine and spirits and in among these tastings, the beer vendors (Craft Beer Imports and Parralel 49) let me in on a little magical wonder of IPAs and the best pairing I have yet to experience!
We know that IPAs are typically very bitter because of the bitter hops that are in there making the beer ranking higher on the IBU level. Let me take a step back here and give you a little crash course on IPAs and IBUs…
IBU stands for International Bittering Unit and measures the amount of alpha acid from hops. The higher the IBU, the more bitter the beer will be. The IPA (India Pale Ale) is a beer that has a higher IBU, usually more than 40 IBU, because it has more of the bitter hops in it. The beer was originally brewed in England with extra hops added to make the trip to India where English Troops were stationed.
You will notice a lot of common themes in these tasting reviews – obviously the bitterness from the hops, but also a lot of hops have citrus, floral or piney (or all of the above) notes; and a lot of the time they are balanced with the sweetness of fruits, malts and caramels.
Now, what’s the deal with the cheesecake? The bitterness of an IPA cuts though the sweetness of the cheesecake, making these two an amazing pairing! You must try it! I was so glad when the beer vendors at the event enlightened me in this combination. Any really sweet dessert works well – try with carrot cake that has sweet cream cheese frosting!
Okay, now for the tasting reviews of five IPAs that I recently tried; and a really simple no-bake cheesecake at the end that you can literally whip up in time to go along with your IPAs!
Big Rock Brewery IPA
Appearance – golden pour, not totally clear. Very fine line of head that sticks to the glass.
Smell – piney hops with a slight sweetness
Taste – piney, weedy, floral hops with a sweet balancing breadiness.
Mouthfeel – slight carbonation, finishes with a sweetness and slight lingering bitterness
Overall – easy to drink IPA with a good balance of the bitter hops and bready sweetness
Prohibition Brewing, Lawless IPA
Appearance – golden clear pour. Frothy, foamy head leaving a lace film
Smell – citrus, maybe orange peel? Herbal and spruce/pine hops, and floral notes
Taste – very weedy, spruce and pine, citrus, herbal bitterness
Mouthfeel – fizzy carbonation, lingering bitterness
Overall – the herbalness of this IPA was a little much for me. I was eating a lot of cheesecake to cut down on the lingering bitterness.
Russell Brewing, Punch Bowl IPA
Appearance – light golden colour, clear, with a thick, foamy head
Smell – definite tropical notes – pineapple, mango… citrus hops
Taste – citrus hops right off the bat with a sweet, tropical fruit finish
Mouthfeel – big bitter taste with a balancing tropical sweetness. Creamy bubbles with moderate carbonation.
Overall – great IPA with a great balance. I could see myself drinking this in the summer!
Cannery Brewing, IPA
Appearance – orange, copper colour; a bit hazy with light head with lacing
Smell – citrus hops, yeasty, malty caramel notes
Taste – citrus and pine bitter hops that linger with a caramel maltiness to balance
Mouthfeel – medium carbonation with a lingering bitterness
Overall – this IPA went especially nice with the cheesecake! It had the right amount of bitterness that was cut by the malty sweetness and when eating cheesecake, extra sweetness went a long way. Nice balanced IPA
Parallel 49, Filthy Dirty IPA
Appearance -clear pour, medium amber colour, white bubbly head that sticks around
Smell – citrus and floral hops with fruity, bready and caramel notes
Taste – tastes a lot like it smells with the bitter hops having a citrus and floral take, balanced with the sweetness of fruits, bread and caramel
Mouthfeel – nice carbonation with a lingering bitterness; this IPA is suprisingly easy to drink considering it’s 7.2% and 76 IBU
Overall – this was one of the first IPAs I ever tried in my beer tasting “career” and it is one of my favourites among the IPAs. It has a very nice balance to it and the lingering hops are quite pleasing.
And now for the pairing! I used a no-bake cheesecake from Pretty Practical Pantry; find the recipe here! It’s a simple recipe that gets you some tasty cheesecake in a little over an hour! Perfect timing for about how long your IPA needs to be in the fridge to chill! 😉
I used a cranberry/cherry pie filling as my topping- you can use any sweet pie filling or as suggested in the recipe, homemade jam! When you take a sip of your IPA, finish with a spoon-full of sweet cheesecake! Instantly you will notice how the sweetness cuts the bitterness! It is a match I am so glad I found out about! I hope you try it and let me know what you think!
Some other IPAs that are on my list to try:
Goose Island IPA
Parallel 49 187 on an undercover hop – with 187 IBU!!!!!!! Woah!
Alley Kat Red Dragon IPA
Do you pair beer with food? What are your favourite pairings?!