Nick layed out the samples on the wax paper he had arranged on the cutting board, then passed them over the counter, announcing "Dubliner with Irish Stout." Everyone took a bite, uttered a collective "WOW" and then looked at Nick, who backed up a few steps, shielding the rest of the samples with his body. I think we made him nervous. He pointed at the cheese case and said, "there..."
Dubliner with Irish Stout is a new cheese from Kerrygold, the International brand of the Irish Dairy Board. It's a variation on their classic Dubliner cheese, a cheddar-style cheese made from the milk of the Friesian Cows that comprise about 95% of Irelands dairy stock. The original cheese has a nice, nutty-sweet flavor and a crumbly, slightly flaky texture. It's a nice table cheese, and great on a cheese plate.
How it's made
Dubliner with Irish Stout starts as regular Dubliner cheese. The cows are pasture-fed, and receive no hormones. The cheese is made cheddar-style, and aged for about 12 months. When it's judged ready, the cheese is then re-milled to break it into smaller pieces, mixed with an Irish Stout concentrate, then re-molded. It's coated in a distinctive green wax, and shipped out to the world. There is little or no alcohol content after the process, according to Molly O’Loughlin, the brand communications manager for Kerrygold.
The cheese has a wonderful yeasty, baked-bread aroma, with a hint of nuts and the bitterness of the stout. The paste is the color of aged ivory. It has a matte appearance, but when cut or bent, resembles cookie dough. The taste is almost cheddary at first bite, but then - as the cheese softens - yields a sweet, nutty, fresh bread flavor. There are crystals - probably calcium lactate (common in cheddars) - that give a nice little crunch to the bite. The finish of the cheese is really long. It just lingers in the mouth, with a slightly dry, earthy taste that reminds me of chewing on a piece of hay.
The texture of the cheese reflects the re-milling and mixing with the stout. It's a little moister than you would expect in a cheddar, and it gives the cheese a bit of a softer texture. I found that letting the cheese get to room temperature made it almost too soft, so my recommendation is that if you're going to serve it on a cheese board, keep it cool, and maybe refill more often.
As far as paring, I tried this with several wines, both red and white. It was ok with Elsa Bianchi Chardonnay, not bad with Shoestring’s Syrah. I also tried it with a San Filipo Rosso de Montalcino and The Boxet Bill Calabria, a Durif wine (the origin grape for Petite Sirah) from Australia.
Kerrygold Dubliner with Irish Stout is available at Sunset Corner's Cheese Shop, Whole Foods Markets, and The Cheese Course.