Many cheese enthusiasts suggest that beer is actually a better match for cheese than wine is, if for no other reason than the fact that it takes very little knowledge of either to make a great pairing. Experts actually say that it’s difficult to make an awful pairing out of beer and cheese, while the same cannot be said for wine.
There are a few reasons why beer and cheese are so good together. First, beer experts point to the fact that both products trace their roots back to the farm, where women would traditionally make both in large quantities. And if the classic rule for pairing wine and food is to match the wine with a food from that region, then beer takes things further by being even more local. Second, both are the product of a fermentation process — cheese produces acid, beer; alcohol —which makes them a strong pairing. Finally, and this theory is a bit more tenuous, both originate from the grain, although linking cheese to grain via grazing animal is a bit of a stretch.
All in all, the flavors in beer tend to match those in cheeses — think of a nutty, aged gouda paired with a nice stout. These are tastes not normally found in wine where experts attempt to pair based on contrast and not complements. The other thing to consider is the contrast of a nice fizzy drink with a rich fatty cheese. Beer cleanses the palette between bites and makes for a refreshing break. The only downside to pairing beer and cheese, a beer aficionado will tell you, is that the cheese residue on your lips will often crash the head of the beer.
We’ve compiled a list of a few basic beer and cheese pairings to get you started. These aren’t the only great pairings out there, but they’ll do to set you off on the right track.
Cheddar with IPA
The idea here is to match the robust hops in an IPA or an extra-special bitter with the sharpness of the cheese. Pick McEwen’s IPA or Anchor Steam with a nice, sharp cheddar.
Mozzarella with Wheat beer
The rule here is light and fresh. Both the cheese and the beer should be kept as light as possible so think about a Hefeweizen or other light-bodied wheat beer like Bavarian-style Weissbier and Witbier (Flemish white beer) or even a Pilsner (German pale ale). Our pick is Oregon’s Widmer Brothers’ Widmer Hefeweizen and a creamy buffalo milk mozzarella.
Gouda with Low-Hop beers
Because these cheeses are usually cured with brine, beer or wine, we want a milder beer to complement. Best here are low-hop beers such as English Brown Ales or Amber Ales. We like Newcastle Brown Ale to match a nice nutty gouda.
Blue cheese with Dark Beer
A strong, sharp cheese needs a strong beer to support it and that’s why we like stronger Porters or Stouts to match a nice, stinky piece of blue cheese.
Brie with European Lager
Since brie and other soft cheeses with bloomy rinds often have low taste profiles, they need a mellow beer to complement. That’s why we like European lagers in this pairing. Try a Saison such as the Birra Farmhouse Ale from Prairie.
Because soft cheeses are a natural match with fruit, the more adventurous may want to match a dry fruit beer like a cherry beer
So there you have it, a few natural cheese and beer matches that are perfect pairings. Again, unlike with wine, the possibilities for a great cheese and beer pairing are nearly endless. Forget what the experts say — what’s most pleasing on your tongue is always what makes the best pairing!
Try our craft beer selection – with more coming soon! – and tell us which are your favorite pairings!