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Beer likes company, so every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Cowgirl Creamery sifts through its library of cheese to find a few friends for one lucky beer, offering small tastes of beer and cheese pairings. (They do the same with wine on Fridays.) You can buy your beer there too; Cowgirl is the single reservoir in downtown’s dearth of beer stores, stocking sixpacks from the likes of Troegs and Victory and less common singles from Allagash and Green Flash.
I stopped by yesterday when they were sampling the straightforward Lagunitas IPA alongside a handful of cheeses, both from Cowgirl and from other dairies. This IPA was too sharp and one-dimensional to really play well with any of the cheeses, but Cowgirl’s Red Hawk, a triple-cream, washed-rind cheese with a healthy amount of stink, stood up to the its bite. And its unctuous fat weighed so pleasantly heavy in my mouth that I left with a ginger ale in hand.
On the other hand, the grainier Pondhopper, a goat cheese from Tumalo Farms, triggered cravings for an acidic, citrusy hefeweizen. The cheese is actually made with beer — Oregon’s Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, according to Cowgirl manager Erica Sanford — to impart some hoppy citrus flavors, so we’re not alone in this whole beer-and-cheese idea. In any case, while the IPA wasn’t the best starting point, it’s free, and I’ll be sure to return another Thursday to see what they have lined up.