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Cheese and Beer Pairing Tips

Move Over Wine! It's Time to Pair Cheese With Beer

When it comes to pairing cheese with an alcoholic beverage, most people think of wine. However, beer is actually an excellent choice for serving with cheese. I was skeptical at first, but after attending a seminar on cheese and beer pairings hosted by the Milk Board of Wisconsin, I'm a total convert. Cheese and beer do work well together!

What makes them perfect for pairing? Well, beer and cheese have a rich joint history. The grain used to make beer on farms or in monasteries was, in many cases, the same grain that was fed to the animals that produce the cheese. Beer and cheese can also take on similar flavor profiles; both can be described as earthy, yeasty, musty, carmeley, etc. Interested in learning more about this popular trend? Keep reading for tips on how to pair beer and cheese.

  • The beer and cheese should either complement or contrast each other. Do the two flavors come together in your mouth in a happy marriage? Then they complement each other. Does one change the flavor of the other, but in a positive way? Then they contrast each other.
  • First take a bite of the cheese and let it coat your mouth. Take another small bite, then a sip of beer while the cheese is still in your mouth. Is the taste pleasing? Then it's a good pairing.
  • Avoid beers that are heavy on the hops. These are generally very hard to pair with cheese because of the strong over-powering hop flavor.
  • Pair lighter creamy cheese with lighter beers; likewise, dark rich brews go with aged complex cheese.
  • Cheese made from sheep's milk is sweeter than cheese made from goat and cow's milk. This is something to remember when selecting a beer to go with a cheese like manchego.
  • Skip the ordinary cheese and select something unusual like raw milk goudas, mixed milk cheese, or aged cheddars.
  • A classic beer and cheese pairing that works every time? Wash-rind cheese and Belgium-style ale. My favorite pairing at the seminar was Uplands Cheese Company's Pleasant Ridge Reserve (a wash-rind, raw cow's milk cheese) with Lost Coast Brewery's Downtown Brown. The fruity notes of the cheese were complemented by the velvety toasted flavor of the beer.
  • When selecting a beer to pair with blue cheese, mimic the traditional pairing of blue cheese and Port. Beers with Port-like qualities that are chocolaty and big work best with blue cheese.

Do you enjoy cheese and beer together?

Source: Flickr User JMrosenfeld

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