Well hi there! It's been awhile since I've written but it truly isn't you, it's me. Or, well, my new baby boy. 10 weeks ago today the newest Beer Hawk legacy was born and his name is Jack. And now that I've got a good 10 weeks with the chillest, happiest baby ever under my belt, Mama's ready to leave the boy with Daddy and go back on the bottle.

Even though there's a little festival called the Great British Beer Festival going on down in London this week, I managed to only hop on a train to Leeds. Baby steps, you know? Yet, fortunately, one of the UK's most interesting breweries--The Celt Experience--made their way up to the always-fabulous Friends of Ham for an exciting evening of sour beer and cheese matching.

I've always been impressed with the wide variety of beers produced by the Caerphilly, Wales-based Celt Experience brewery; whether it was their superb Ogham range or a fantastic beer like the Organic Silures, they're all delicious. However, never was I more amazed by this brewery than I was last night with their three sour beers: Rye Beana Saison made with soy beans and black currants; the Haltstatt Deity pomegranate saison; and the Lammas Harvest Berliner weisse made with gooseberries and lemon thyme. Whathewha?!

Celt's Head-brewer Tom Newman (and one of the nicest, most enthusiastic guys I've ever met) and their Certified Cicerone, Matt, presented these three beers to us alongside cheeses that were expertly selected by Friends of Ham's own Cheese Diva. With a passion that I've, as of late, only seen reserved for a bongo playing giraffe, these three walked us through each of the three pairings.

I'll spare you the minutiae of the explanations but, rest assured, each pairing was spot on. We were served the smooth and simple Rye Beana alongside the fabulous British brie, Baron Bigod which, with the fruity character of the beer gave us a pairing which was intended to be reminiscent of raspberries and cream. That didn't quite translate for me but it was nevertheless a delightful pairing.

The Haltstatt Deity was a little more intense than the previous beer with a good bit of acidity and a certain spice from the saison yeast. These characteristics nicely complemented the Ardrahan Irish Washed Rind cheese. The cheese itself had an interesting bitterness that really played nicely with the beer.

Finally, my favorite beer of the evening: The Lammas Harvest Berliner weisse. I feared this pairing all evening because it was paired with a Stitchelton unpasteurized blue cheese. And blue cheese makes me cry.  However, surprisingly, I found this to be my favorite pairing of the evening. The cheese was not one of those smack-you-in-the-face blues rather, it was creamy and subtle. It was fantastic with the bright tartness and very distinct herbal flavor in the beer.

I always enjoy meeting brewers from breweries who are trying to do something very different and innovative compared to the area in which they are located and Tom is definitely one of the standouts. With collaborations planned with a number of breweries both here in the UK and in the US to cultivating yeast strains from various Welsh fruit orchards, there are surely exciting things to come from The Celt Experience. And that makes Mama happy.



Beer Sommelier