Since the craft beer trend is clearly here to stay, it’s about time to study up on how to match the complex notes of your favorite new beers with your favorite flavors of cheese. While wine and cheese make for a classic cocktail party combination, beer and cheese performs just as well, if not better! Beer and cheese were born to be paired together; they grow up together on the farm, where the leftover grain used in beer production is often fed to dairy animals. Later, in the production of both products, grasses are broken down into simple sugars through enzymatic processes. In addition to this scientific similarity, beer offers a refreshing contrast to the mouth-coating richness of most cheeses. We hope you enjoy exploring the complexities of beer’s flavor alongside delicious cheeses.
Want to organize a beer & cheese pairing but not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Just grab a mix-and-match six pack filled with some interesting, beers of various varietals and buy an assortment of cheeses, ranging from soft to hard: perhaps two goat’s milk cheeses, a brie, a cheddar, a hard washed rind cheese, and a chunk of bleu cheese. Now that you’ve got your supplies, read on to learn how to best pair them.
SAISON + CHÈVRE
Saisons are bright and super dry, presenting an unbeatable partner to a soft and tangy goat cheese. Saison is also light and effervescent, and its citrusy acidity draws a nice parallel with the punchy acidity of a fresh goat cheese.
BROWN ALE + CHEDDAR
Match mild cheddars with a brown ale for a well balanced pairing. The nuttiness and sweet caramel flavors of the cheddar strike a nice balance with the dark fruit in the smooth, nutty brown ale. You might recognize this combo from the traditional English “ploughman’s lunch.”
BELGIAN TRAPPIST ALE + WASHED RIND CHEESES
The dark fruit and caramel of Trappist ales match the earthy, barnyard flavors of washed rind cheeses. This combo works well since dark Belgian ales are bold enough to stand up to these pungent cheese. Chimay à la Bière + Chimay Grand Reserve Blue Label is an obvious (albeit delicious) match. The monks (who produce both the cheese and the beer) use the beer to wash the cheese, thus the flavors naturally meld into one.
IPA + FARMHOUSE CHEDDAR
Bold cheeses call for bold brews. Sharp, aged cheddars and goudas will go perfectly with English or American IPAs, the bold hoppiness creating a needed contrast to the nutty and fruity sharpness of these cheeses. The hops and the carbonation of these IPAs also clear the palate nicely of the cheese’s coating.
BARLEYWINE + BLEU CHEESE
You’ll want a sweet, malty beer to pair with the sweet, salty tang of bleu cheeses and Stiltons. A barleywine or red ale, with hints of hops and sweet malt flavor, works well since the sweet and floral notes tie in nicely to this moldy edge of the cheese. This rich combination is perfect for a cold winter night.
Stouts with their roasted, caramel-y flavors and hints of salt are a nice pair for aged goudas. The bold flavors of coffee, chocolate, pine, caramel, and warming alcohol in the stout need a strong cheese that won’t be overpowered.
Bookalokal Beer Aficionado:
Emily Dawn, Bookalokal’s resident beer meister and stellar host, revealed three of her favorite beer-cheese combos to be Dubliner with St. Bernardus Abt 12, Maytag Blue Cheese with Triple Karmeliet and Pecorino Romano with Rochefort 10! Check out her upcoming Belgian Beer and Food dinners to learn even more about how to pair beer with all the foods under the sun.
Christmas and New Years are just around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning some menus. Skip the traditional fare this year in favor of an international celebration of flavors. We’ve collected a handful of recipes, ranging from savory to sweet, to help you mix it up this holiday season.
The Feast of Seven Fishes – Italian-American
Italian-American families observe Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. These seafood dishes are usually fried and popular fare includes baccalà (salted cod), fried smelt, and calamari. This feast is an entirely American invention, but it has roots in the more traditional (and less numerically specific) Italian Christam Eve seafood meal, La Vigilia.
Lutefisk – Scandinavian-American
Lutefisk, codfish soaked in lye, was a traditional Christmas Eve meal of yore in Scandinavia. Today, the strange delicacy has faded into partial obscurity in Scandinavia but it is still enjoyed in the Midwestern region of the US by Scandinavian-Americans in an effort to connect with their ancestral home.
Tourtière is a meat pie originating from Lower Canada (now Quebec), traditionally made with finely diced pork, veal, beef or salmon in coastal regions. It is served with ketchup or savory fruit relish.
Bigos – Polish
The national dish of Poland, bigos is a dish of meats and sausages slowly braised over a bed of sauerkraut. Bigos is a favorite meal for the day after Christmas and is also popular in Lithuania and Belarus.
Bánh Chưng – Vietnamese
Tết, or the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is largely centered around food. In Vietnamese language, to celebrate Tết is to ăn Tết, literally meaning “eat Tết”, emphasizing the role of food in the celebration. Some dishes include bánh chưng and bánh dầy, sticky rice with meat or bean filings, mứt, dried candied fruits, and hạt dưa, roasted watermelon seeds.
Romeritos – Mexican
A batter of powdered, dried shrimp and egg whites cooked like pancakes and mixed with an indigenous mild-tasting green plant that resembles rosemary, thus the name romerito. Served with mole, romeritos are eaten during the Posadas, the nine days leading up to Christmas.
Toshikoshi Soba – Japanese
Soba is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve in most areas of Japan. The special New Year’s noodle dish is called Toshikoshi soba, buckwheat soba noodles in a hot dashi, mirin and soy sauce soup. Garnished with spring onion and kamaboko fish cake, New Year Soba symbolizes wishes for good luck in the year ahead.
Bibingka – Filipino
Bibingka is a pastry traditionally served for breakfast on Christmas day. It is made of rice flour and coconut milk is baked in banana leaf–lined terracotta pots, topped with kesong puti (white cheese), grated coconut, and sometimes even a salted duck egg.
Cola de Mono – Chilean
Served around Christmas time in Chile, Cola de Mano (which means Monkey’s Tail) is a drink concocted with aguardiente, milk, sugar, coffee, and cloves. It is the Chilean version of egg nog.
Glögg – Nordic
Glögg is warm wine mixed with a melange of wintery spices. The traditional ingredients are red wine, sugar, spices cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and bitter orange, and optionally also stronger spirits such as vodka, akvavit, or brandy. (In France this warming winter beverage is known as vin chaud, in Italy as vin brûlé. Germans drink Glühwein… In fact, tons of culture have their own version of mulled wine!)
Coquito – Puerto Rican
Coquito is a drink made with rum, egg yolk, coconut milk, coconut cream, sweet condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The drink is commonly associated with the Christmas holidays, where it is traditionally served along with other holiday food.
Sorrel Punch – Caribbean
Cougnou – Belgian
Cougnou (or Bread of Jesus) is a Belgian sweet bread eaten around the holidays. It is molded into the shape of baby jesus, decorated and often enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate – both precious and delicious!
Bûche de Noël – French
The Bûche de Noël, or branch of Christmas, is the French version of a Yule Log. A rich cake filled and rolled to resemble a log, it is often decorated with tiny merinque “mushrooms” or other edible treats made to look like items found in the forest. In France, it is traditionally served after the Christmas Eve midnight mass. One of the most common and classic flavors is chestnut.
Pandoro – Italian
Panettone often steals the thunder as far as Italian holiday cakes go but we prefer Pandoro. Pan d’oro, literally “Golden Bread”, is a traditional sweet yeast bread enjoyed around Christmas and New Years throughout Italy. In the Middle Ages, sweet breads were only consumed by the nobility, thus the name. Pandoro come in a tall, regal shape, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cut into thin slices.
Lebkuchen – German
Lebkuchen are traditional German cookies that are usually baked for Christmas. They are similar to gingerbread cookies, made with molasses and full of warm spices.
Try out a new recipes this holiday & leave a comment with your culture’s holiday food traditions.