Not being all that familiar with common pairings, I had to do some research. My first stop was Sam Calagione's book, Extreme Brewing, which suggests some common pairings and some ideas on how to set yours up. Next, I took a few notes from the Beer Advocate page. Lastly, I got this great pairing guide, to help solidify my choices.
Part of the goal was to intertwine the cheeses into actual dishes, so that people weren't left hungry or stuffed after eating four courses of cheese and nothing else. So after deciding pairing combos, the second challenge was to figure out how to use the cheese in a salad, soup, sandwich or pasta dish.
Ultimately, this is what I came up with, and as you can see, I couldn't resist making a menu.
Here are a few shots during the cooking process.
And the finished products.
This is the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, paired with the Dale's 1500 Pale Ale.
This is the Blue de Basques Sheep Cheese, paired with Avery's Hog Heaven Barleywine. Those are toasted walnuts surrounding it.
This is the mixed green pear and prosciutto salad with Ciresa Mountain Gorgonzola, paired with the Stone IPA and Racer 5 IPA.
These are the goat cheese and balsamic caramelized onion crostinis, paired with my Brouwerij de Isser Saison, Enter the Tiger.
To finish off the meal, I took one of my Cossack Wisecrack's (russian imperial stout) and reduced it into a chocolate sauce to pour over vanilla ice cream.
Ultimately, the pairing went incredibly well and the dishes were liked by all. The consensus was the Barleywine with the Blue de Basques was the best pairing, however, my Saison was the favorite beer and worked remarkably well to cut through the thick and creamy goat cheese on the crostinis. Everyone really liked the salad too, however, the cheese seemed to get lost in the lettuce and was hard to define its particular flavor to pair with the IPAs. The aged cheddar was incredible, but Dale's 1500 was probably too hoppy of a pale to pair it with. Lastly, my stout reduction syrup was a big hit.