When I spotted a wedge of Brie de Meaux at its sell by date reduced in my little local Tesco, my thoughts flew back to the ridiculously good slab of it I tried in Friends of Ham last year. All considerations of a January diet went out of the window, and it was paid for and bagged up within a matter of moments. Unfortunately I couldn’t go home and demolish it straight away – I had a lunch date to get to. By the time I’d been to Media City, done lunch, and got back home, I’d had to tie the handles of the plastic bag together, to stop the delicious but pongy smell from pervading the (thankfully, almost empty) tram. Later that afternoon, when it was oozing gently, I plonked it on a plate with a crusty white roll, cracked open a beer, and settled down with a book.
The book was soon ignored, because, at the risk of sounding like a food pervert, OH MY GOD. This was a properly smelly cheese, creamy, and far more strongly flavoured than other bries I’ve tasted. What better to pair it with than First Chop Brewing Arm Ava (3.5%)? Very ripe brie could overwhelm many 3.5% pale ales, but Ava is unusually bitter and cuts through the fatty, creaminess delightfully, while the fruity hops mingle with the saltiness to create a wonderfully intense flavour.
I must admit, Ava was a bit of a gamble, but it stood up to the challenge marvellously in this full-on pairing.