After the snow flurries of Easter, sunshine has finally arrived here by the Suffolk seaside and we're making the most of picnic-perfect blue sky to enjoy some al fresco cheese alongside local craft beers from Lacons Brewery.
Fermented friends, cheese and beer make a great combination. Each with complex flavour profiles, delicious complimentary and contrasting pairings can be found but it's important to match their intensity so neither the beer nor cheese is overpowered.
These eye-catching bottles come from Lacons Brewery in neighbouring Norfolk. With a history dating back to the 18th Century, Lacons is based in Great Yarmouth where it produces a range of beers and aged ales. We enjoyed exploring the multi-award winning trio of their core range, fresh from a vibrant 2020 rebranding.
Starting with Legacy, a blonde ale (4.4%) we were delighted by a local pairing with exquisitely wrinkled St. Jude. Intensely creamy at present, Julie Cheyney and her team make St. Jude using milk produced by cows grazing the Waveney pastures at Fen Farm just outside Bungay. It has a mousse-like texture and delicate milky flavour that proved an ideal match for the bright citrus notes in Legacy ale. Hints of grapefruit made for a light and refreshing pairing, full of freshness.
Encore is an amber ale (3.8%) with a bitter edge and zesty flavour. It was a real treat with local brie-style Baron Bigod, cutting through the rich creaminess and mouth-coating texture of this velvety cheese. Baron Bigod is handmade from the raw milk of Montbéliarde cows by Fen Farm Dairy and aged for eight weeks to develop its earthy character and touch of yoghurt at the centre. Encore ale was a beautiful palate cleanser after each luxurious nibble of Baron Bigod. Looking further afield, Encore was also a wonderful pairing with thin slices of Spanish Manchego do Diaz. Matching well the sharpness of ewe's milk and lifting it with zingy notes, this combination would make a perfect pre-dinner aperitif alongside a bowl of plump Gordal olives.
Our final cheese and beer pairing was the ploughman's classic of Affinity, a golden ale (4.8%), with English Cheddar. Affinity was a touch strong for local Norfolk Dapple; the depth of Pitchfork from Trethowan's Dairy in Somerset proving a better match. Pitchfork is clothbound and aged for twelve months. With a long finish, it bursts with savoury flavours and a hint of tropical fruit. The hoppy bitterness of Affinity enhanced the acidity of Pitchfork for a crisp pairing that really lifts this delicious cheese. The makings of a perfect lunch - bring on the pork pie and fig chutney!