Cheese has been co-opted by wine, Ingram writes, but I took it a step further when I talked about cheese during my Ignite Phoenix 8 presentation, "Let's Put Beer on the Dinner Table". I said that wine is frequently paired with cheese since cheese's creamy texture and rich flavors do such a good job of masking a wine's flaws. Without carbonation, the cheese stays in your mouth.
This is not new thinking by either of us. It's been a fairly established principle in beer and food circles. I can't speak for Andy on this, but I'm fairly certain that we both drew upon Garrett Oliver's amazing book, "The Brewmaster's Table".
The reason why many people end up serving wine with cheese, especially at parties, is that cheese coats the palate, blunting the flavor of the wine This makes tougher wines taste pretty much OK, which is fine. For less- than-wonderful wines, cheese is the great equalizer, a fact that wine shops are fully aware of. Beer can do a lot better—it can find such harmony with cheese that you won't know where the beer ends and the cheese begins. Traditional beer and cheese are absolutely perfect together. (Garrett Oliver, The Brewmaster's table)
When I was preparing the presentation, carbonation seemed a minor point, but it truly is one of beers strongest points. A great pairing occurs when the flavors of the food are amplified, contrasted, balanced or just made a whole lot better by the beverage you choose. When that beverage also set's the stage for a new flavor from a different course or offering with the scrubbing power of carbonation, the pairing becomes transcendent.
I'm with Andy now, it is a weapon, but it really shouldn't be so secret. Perhaps our ranting on it will change that.
As an addendum, BeerPHXation welcomes the new Beer Buzz weekly column and Andy's contributions. The Valley is in need of more beer information and opinion and we envision a bigger and better beer scene because of it. Finally, I'm not sure if it was modesty or impartiality that caused Andy not to mention this, but the Four Peaks website lists cheese pairings for all of the breweries standard beers. It's an amazing resource and a great place for just about anyone to get started into beer pairing. My only request, the last time I spoke to him was that they include the cheese pairing information to their mobile site. It's either that or offer some of those cheeses in the brewpub.