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Lyburn’s Old Winchester and Plain Ales’ Gold Medale 5% ABV

July 22, 2012

My palate has been experiencing an indulgent change of late, delving into myriad local UK brews and cheeses (not to mention some ‘relatively local’ fromage from across the English Channel) and I’m happy to report that everything tastes wonderful. I don’t know if this is just a knock on effect of tasting products I’ve not tried before but I’m positive that eating and drinking anything that’s locally produced has a huge positive impact on taste.

As an exercise in chanting the local mantra and with a great deal of thanks to James Timoney of Plain Ales I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on a brand spanking new brew called Gold Medale. My understanding is that they’ve already been brewing this particular ale with an ABV of 3.9% but I’ve been lucky enough to get my mitts on the first batch of a 5% version. Kudos to you Mr Timoney.
…and it just so happened that around the same time I sourced a well-respected semi hard cheese from Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers that goes by the name of Old Winchester. – Obviously the perfect opportunity for a spot of quality cheese and beer matching.

Old Winchester and Gold Medale

Lyburn’s Old Winchester and a glass of Gold Medale from Plain Ales

The Olympic themed ‘Gold Medale’ is an outright winner. The tasting notes inform you that it’s “Very pale in colour, with Orange marmalade notes on the nose with a soft but solid finish in the mouth” all spot on but that shies away from some added complexities that make this a beautifully balanced beer. There’s orange marmalade for sure which is prevalent among the citrus hops in the aroma but there’s a very subtle cinnamon buried in there somewhere too. When you actually throw a few mouthfuls down your neck the fruity hop becomes more of a floral hop on the finish. There’s nothing overpowering here, rather an interesting mix of volatiles bouncing off each other which all stacks up to a perfect overall balance.

As for the cheese, Old Winchester is essentially an aged version of Lyburn’s Winchester which in turn is an aged version of Lyburn Gold produced by Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers in Landford  (south east of Salisbury). Lyburn Gold is a good cheese in its own right but Old Winchester really ups the ante with some ‘small changes to the make’ but more importantly aging it for 16 months. The Lyburn Farm website states that Winchester is a “…cheese that is clearly not a cheddar, but not a typical gouda, you could argue it is somewhere between the two.”
I’m am firmly planting my flag in the Gouda camp as far as the taste goes, there’s plenty of impressively rich & sweet lactic flavour going on here but it’s the texture that really heightens everything. Undeniable chunks of crunchy calcium crystals makes for a distinctive mouthfeel and a very long delicate caramel nuttiness that just keeps giving, eventually breaking down to a subtle creaminess that still continues to ooze flavour. The colour of the pate isn’t as dark as some aged Goudas I’ve experienced but to be honest, I wouldn’t expect to see deep golden/brown tones until it was aged past 16 months.  The structure of the cheese is more cheddar like; if you snap a piece in half you won’t get a clean break, instead you can see the curd structure but it’s definitely a Gouda style cheese. The best UK produced cheese of this particular style I’ve had the pleasure to taste.

So the big question is how do these two go together? Short answer is very well although I will say, when it comes to beer and cheese matching, aged Gouda (in my experience) does pretty much go well with just about any style of beer.
This particular combination goes beyond perfectly complementing each other in that the Gold Medale actually brings out a bit more sweetness and caramel tones in the Old Winchester.

It works, it’s local, it’s a great combination and we should be eternally gratefully to the artisan producers and craft brewers who give us the opportunity to get a real taste of their passion wrapped up in these gems.

Plain Ales
17 Deverill Road Trading Estate
Sutton Veny
BA12 7BZ

Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers
Lyburn Farm


Chicken, Cheese, Date and Prosciutto Roulades

June 19, 2011

Some subtle variations on a recipe from the most excellent Culture cheese magazine. The combination of dates and tyme really compliments all the other ingredients in this dish – and it looks great too, especially when laid out on top of a leafy salad.


  • 6 medium pitted dates
  • 2 large shallots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoon fresh tyme leaves
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 500g – 600g)
  • ¼ cup (60g) Chevre (fresh goat cheese)
  • ¼ cup (60g) Camembert
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices prosciutto


Place dates in a small bowl, cover with ½ cup boiling water and soak until softened (about 5 minutes). Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, finely peel and chop the shallots. Heat oil in a small saucepan and sauté the shallots over medium/high heat stirring often until lightly browned (about 4 minutes). Add the thyme and cook for another minute. Chop the softened dates and add to the shallots. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180°C. Cut chicken breasts in half parallel to the surface of the cutting board so you end up with thin layers of chicken meat. Place each piece between two sheets of baking paper and pound until the chicken is just over ½cm thick.

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, Camembert, salt and pepper. On a large sheet of baking paper, lay out all the slices of prosciutto so they’re just overlapping. Place the flattened chicken meat on to the prosciutto making sure you cover it all but leaving a bit of prosciutto exposed at the top and bottom (this makes rolling it easier). Now spread the cheese mixture over the chicken cutlets then top with the shallot/date mixture.

Chicken and prosciutto roulade preparation

Laying out the ingredients prior to rolling

Starting with a long edge, take hold of the baking paper and roll into a tight cylinder. Place on a rimmed baking sheet seam-side down and bake the roulade until cooked through (about 25 minutes). Transfer the roulade to a cutting board. When it has cooled slightly, cut crosswise into 1½cm slices and serve.

Gruyère and Cheddar Soufflé

January 16, 2011
Gruyère and cheddar soufflé

Gruyère and Cheddar Cheese soufflé fresh out of the oven

Based on a ‘secret family recipe’ handed to me by French friend, Alexandre Deschamps, here’s a variation on a cheese souffle.


  • 30g butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • 350ml milk
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small egg yolks
  • 50g finely grated Gruyère cheese
  • 50g finely grated Cheddar cheese
  • 6 egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar

You’ll also need an 18cm soufflé dish, well buttered and floured


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until it forms a smooth white sauce. Cook gently for 3-4 minutes then turn off the heat.

Mix in the nutmeg, cayenne pepper and a little black pepper then mix the egg yolks and grated cheese in well. Transfer the preparation to a large bowl.

Beat the egg whites and a pinch of tartar until stiff. Mix a little of the beaten whites into the white sauce then gently fold in the remaining whites.

Pour the soufflé preparation into the buttered and floured dish and flatten the top. If you wish, you can decorate the top with small, flat, diamond-shaped pieces of cheese for effect – put these close to the middle as they tend to move towards the edges as the souffle expands.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes then serve immediately by spooning the soufflé onto plates.

Pear and Stilton Bruschetta

January 15, 2011

Here’s a recipe for a tasty twist on Bruschetta – great as an entrée or just an appetising gourmet snack.


  • Pears
  • Stilton cheese
  • Watercress finely chopped
  • Butter
  • Baguette


Mix the butter and cress together. Cut the baguette into slices and toast on one side. Spread watercress butter on untoasted side, top each slice with sliced pear and stilton then grill.

Jalapeño Boats with Cream Cheese

November 19, 2010

This has got to be the simplest recipe on here, 3 ingredients – it doesn’t get much easier. I once tried this with Habaneros instead of Jalapeños which I wouldn’t recommend.


  • Jalapeño chillies
  • Cream cheese – the Ubiquitous Philadelphia is fine or you could make your own
  • Ground Paprika


Slice jalapenos in half from top to bottom and scrape out seeds. Lightly sear on either side then fill with cream cheese, lightly dust with paprika and grill until the cheese just starts to brown.

That’s it – told you it was easy.

Beer and Cheese night at Harts Pub, The Rocks

November 4, 2010

On the 3rd November 2010 I hosted a Beer and Cheese matching night with Richard Adamson who runs the Harts Pub Beer Club. I need to confirm some of the beers we had on the night (things got a bit fuzzy) but it went something like this.

In order of tasting:

  1. Rouzaire Camembert matched with 4 Pines Kolsh
  2. Epoisses matched with Kranky Pants IPA
  3. Tronchetto Di Capra goat’s cheese matched with Murrays Grand Cruz – Beer Divas Saison
  4. Pecorino Al Tartufo (ewe’s milk with truffles) matched with Hunter Bock
  5. Cropwell Bishop stilton matched with The Black Giraffe

Harts Pub
176 Cumberland St
The Rocks, NSW 2000

Cheddar Croquettes

October 5, 2010

There’s a lot of cheddar in this dish so you may want to cut down on the portion sizes (this recipe will easily work as an entrée for 10 people). The end results looks great – golden and crispy – and goes well on a bed of lettuce served with quince or cranberry sauce.


  • 900g Cheddar
  • 5 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 3 Cups Semolina (Italian pasta flour) or Asian rice flour
  • 4 Cups Panko Flakes (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Litres of Blended Olive oil, Canola oil  or Peanut oil


Slice the cheese into blocks – this will determine the individual portions. The size is not really important but make sure you keep the width no larger than 1.5cm otherwise the cheese won’t melt properly during the frying stage. 8cm x 4cm x 1.25cm blocks is a good size.

Set the blocks of cheddar aside then in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and cold water. Place the egg mixture, panko and flour in separate bowls/containers (make sure you can fit a couple of pieces of cheese at a time in each bowl).

Working in batches of two, quickly dip the cheese pieces into the egg mixture then into the flour, back into the egg mixture and finally into the panko to make a crust. You need to work fast here or you’ll end up with clumps of panko and flour stuck to your fingers. Make sure you press the breadcrumbs firmly into all sides of the cheese. Lay the finished pieces on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and place in the fridge for 30 – 60 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large, deep, heavy bottomed pot until the thermometer reaches 175°C. Fry the blocks in the oil until golden brown and crisp on the outside. The cheese needs to be soft but not overly-runny, you can test for this by removing a croquette then patting it dry with a paper towel. Press the croquette lightly; the crust should be firm and crisp with a bit of give on the inside. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.

Serve as is or with a side salad of greens (lettuce/curly endive/frisée) drizzled with tarragon vinegar and olive oil or with a cranberry sauce/quince.