People have been pairing cheese with wine for ages, and for good reason, who doesn’t love Bucheron with a great French Sauvignon Blanc? Or a Bleu de Basque with a Kopke Ruby Port? I DO! There are some amazing pairings when it comes to wine and cheese. BUT I’m also a beer drinker and I’m breaking the norm…
Many amazing craft beers are being produced both domestically and internationally and I believe they go better with cheese than most wines or spirits do. With that said, the key is to match intensities and complementary attributes. One article I read said that there is a harmony between cheese and beer, TOTALLY! Beer is less acidic than wine, which helps bring the flavors out in the cheeses, and in turn complement the beer. The best pairing tip I can give you is this: use your own personal preference and drink what you like and eat what you like. I could tell you “the perfect pairing” but that would be my opinion and may not be to your liking. However, I can share some of my thoughts about pairing beer with cheese that I think you’ll find helpful.
A couple quick pointers:
Young fresh cheeses like Chevre (fresh goat cheese) and Mozzarella are wonderful with lighter beers. Sharp cheeses like Cheddar go great with high hoppy, bitter beers. Aged, nutty cheeses like Asiago and Gruyere are the best with malty beers. Blue cheeses like Stilton and Roquefort need to be paired with sweet beers. During my research I came across this great article on the Beer Advocate website called Beer and Cheese by Alström Bros. They’ve got some great pairing information, I’ve added some here. Also, Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and the American Dairy Association (ADA) partnered to create a simple guide. It’s an ideal starting point for the novice beer and cheese enthusiast.
• Sharp Cheddar with Pale Ale
• Feta with Wheat Beer
• Mascarpone with Fruit Beer (ex. Belgian Lambic)
• American Cheese with Pilsner
• Colby with Brown Ale
• Gorgonzola with Barleywine
• Gruyére with Bock Beer
• Swiss Cheese with Octoberfest Beer
• Parmesan with Amber Lager
Here are three of my favorites that I would love for you to try!
Vella Dry Jack and Paulaner Oktoberfest
Vella Dry Jack is aged a minimum of 12 months until it is hardened. It is a firm cheese with a sweet nutty flavor. Paulaner Oktoberfest has clean malty start with a slightly spicy hop note and a crisp, dry finish. Vella is a wonderful cheese that snuck up on me; I now call it one of my favorites. And Okotberfest, well it’s just lovely but of course seasonal. The nuttiness of the Vella and the spiciness of the Oktoberfest make a perfect match. If you don’t like Oktoberfest beers why not try a stout or a dopplebock.
Brie Couronne and Boulevard Brewing Unfiltered Wheat Beer
Brie Couronne is a French brie with a distinctive rich, creamy flavor. Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a naturally citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. Brie was one of the first non-sandwich cheeses that I remember eating and enjoying. And still to this day it is one of my go-to cheeses. Boulevard makes great beer. The Unfiltered Wheat complements Brie perfectly. The creamy, richness of the brie and the citrusy flavor of the beer make a great team, perfect for your next tailgate!
Natural Smoked Gouda and Bell’s Amber Ale
Natural Smoked Gouda is smoked in ancient brick ovens over smoldering hickory chip embers. It has a salty and sweet butterscotch finish. Bell’s Amber Ale has a dry, malty flavor which is bitter and toasty with a crisp finish. The smokiness of the gouda and the malty, bitterness of the amber make an interesting and unique pairing that is well worth a trip to Vine & Table.
Of course these are only three pairings, there are many more to be tried and I’m looking forward to that task! Nick, aka the beer guy and I are talking about holding a Cheese and Beer pairing class. Would you be interested in attending? Please let us know.
For more information about pairings please check out The Nibble website – it is a great help that I frequent when researching.