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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

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