Perfect Match: Chunk Some Cheese and Drink Some Beer

matching beer and cheese

Its all about flavor. The hoppy bitterness and sweet malt in beer match up with cheese in a way that wine never can. Follow these tips for matching beer and cheese.

Wine and cheese make a fine couple. A little overrated, perhaps a pinch too attentive to their own glowing industry press but, in the end, a nice couple. Definitely good to have them over now and then, even if wine’s a bit full of itself. It’s understandable, right? With all the writers locked in perpetual gush over how good wine is for cheese, how perfect they mesh…

Fact is, wine’s ruddier brother, beer, might make an even better match for cheese. A good wine and cheese pairing is anything but automatic. The rich fats and salts of cheese can just as well mask a good wine as accentuate its flavor. Beer, bursting with hoppy bitterness, sweet malt and bold roast flavors, fortified by carbonation, is often better equipped to keep both food and beverage honest, the palette cleaner and therefore better able to discern the subtleties of flavor threading together lunch, snack or supper. 

Beer and cheese have a bountiful history. Many places that respect good beer also produce outstanding cheese. Numerous monasteries once pursued dual industries of brewing beer and making cheese. Identical pursuits fed many a farm family over the centuries. The “ploughman’s lunch” of cold meat, beer and cheese remains a staple in English pubs, and it’s not far off from a fresh cold draft and juicy London Broil gushing melted cheddar and drenched in caramelized onions on hot crusty Italian garlic bread.

Writing about beer and cheese makes you hungry.

That steak and cheddar sandwich would go great with either an English or a more robust American Brown Ale. If you prefer, substitute Gloucester or Colby cheese- Brown Ale complements all three in classic fashion. If Brown Ale is too malty for you, pour pale ale instead.

Flavorful Tips for Matching Beer and Cheese

Want to know which cheese goes best with which beers? Here are some further beer and cheese matchups, some funky, some traditional:

  • American Cheese: Pilsner
  • Asagio: Brown Ale, Scotch Ale, Porter
  • Blue Cheese: Trappist Ale, Stout, Porter
  • Brie: Stout, Belgian Blond Ale, Kolsch
  • Cheddar: Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Pilsner, Steam Beer (Sharp Cheddar? Try an IPA)
  • Cheshire: Brown Ale
  • Feta: wheat beer, Weissbier, Hefeweizen
  • Goat cheeses: wheat beer, Scotch Ale
  • Gorgonzola: Barley Wine
  • Gouda: Amber Ale, Brown Ale, Porter
  • Gruyere: Bock, Munich Dunkel, Octoberfest, Porter, Stout
  • Havarti: Pilsner
  • Mascarpone: fruit beer, Porter
  • Monterrey Jack: Pilsner
  • Mozzarella: fruit beer, wheat beer, Hefeweizen, Weissbier, Witbier, Pilsner
  • Muenster: Pilsner, Porter
  • Parmesan, Romano. Pecorino: Amber Ale, Pale Ale
  • Provolone: India Pale Ale
  • Scottish Cheddar: India Pale Ale
  • Swiss: Bock, Festbier, Octoberfest Beers, Dark Lagers
  • Triple Crme: Saisson, Kriek, fruit beer

Four Final Tips on Beer and Cheese Matching

  1. Match bitter beers with heaps of hops with tart, sharp cheeses
  2. Match malt-driven beers with aged cheeses.
  3. Match subtle beers with fresh cheeses.
  4. Match big, sweet beers with blue cheeses.

One last thing: Subvert the paradigm. This is beer, not wine. Eat the cheese and drink the beer you like. The Taste Police have other stuff on their minds.

Photo: ulteriorepicure

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