Cranberry Creek Farm is a goat dairy and vegetable farm located in the Pocono Mountains in Cresco, PA. The farm offers fresh and aged goat cheeses from a cheesemaking program that is headed by none other than Paul Lawler, former Fair Food Farmstand cheesemonger. For over a year, Paul has helped the folks at Cranberry Creek strengthen their cheese offerings, and this help is apparent in their Monomonock—an aged “toothsome tomme” that is named after an inn that burned down years ago (not, unfortunately, the similar-sounding Muppet song).
The raw milk cheese is much harder than the creamy goat cheeses most people would be familiar with, and has an almost chalky texture that coats the tongue as it’s chewed. And as it coats the tongue, you’ll find a strong herbaceousness coming out, with hints of hyme, lemon balm, and, as Lawler says, “a distinct wallop of oregano and pepper.” With all the fall herbs encompassed in a taste of Monomonock, it would be well-suited to a Thanksgiving dinner cheese board—or any winter-time cheese board, for that matter. Next to root vegetables or a roasted meat, this cheese would certainly shine.
Where it also shines is paired with Tröegs Brewing Company’s Troegenator Doublebock, a slightly sweet year-round offering reminiscent of dark fruit and burnt sugar whose sneaky 8.2% ABV will keep you warm enough to survive the winter months without a worry. The beer starts out sweet, with hints of fig and caramel, and as it warms, just the slightest hint of bitterness emerges that will blend perfectly with the hidden herbs in the cheese. The pairing itself could be a replacement for a winter meal—the cheese with its oregano, thyme, and lemon aspects merging slowly into the figgy pudding dessert of the beer.
The pairing, however, doesn’t only work as a one-and-then-the-other event. The two also work together, as the sweetness of the beer will cut through the earthy, chalky thickness of the cheese, but won’t wash it away altogether. The two will dance around your aste-buds for quite a while, as they both have staying power that will keep the pairing fresh on your mind long after it has all been swallowed.
This is one pairing that will truly keep you warm on a cold winter’s day, and one that will give ample reason to stay inside during the next big snow storm rather than go out and shovel off your car. The best part is that the beer can be found at any respectable istributor in the area, and any bottle shop is sure to have single bottles or cans for your pleasure. The cheese, of course, can be found at the Fair Food Farmstand any time of the year, or you can catch Paul himself manning the booth at the Headhouse Farmers’ Market uring the warmer months. But don’t wait until then to try this one out—it is meant to be enjoyed during the winter, preferably with someone in front of a fire.