Beer and cheese pairings can be truly magical, especially since it still seems to be uncharted territory for many people. I have read many articles about why beer and cheese go well together, but the mention of beer and cheese together in a serious pairing still elicits raised eyebrows so I felt it was necessary to put in my two bits.
I find the combination of the right beer with the right cheese a magical pairing because there are so few classic combinations of beer and cheese. Its relatively easy to find an amazing wine and cheese pairing if one sticks to geographically familiar partners, such as a good Sancerre with a well cared for Selles sur Cher (delicious!).
However because good beer can be produced with ingredients from vastly disparate parts of the world it can be a pleasant surprise when choosing a beer and a cheese each produced thousands of miles apart and finding them a great match together.
Another argument for pairing beer and cheese comes down to economics. Lets face it, even beer produced in tinsy-tiny small amounts will inevitably be less expensive than a wine of equivalent quality. An obscenely expensive bottle of beer in New York City will cost you $40 (for a 750 ml bottle of Deus for example) while $40 in a wine store could net you something good, or just average.
Throughout the long history of wine and beer production, wine has always been more costly to produce than beer. There is no question that we can find a phenomenal beer to match with cheese for less than $10 per bottle which is less than most merely pedestrian bottles of vino.
Still don’t believe me? Well, here are some real time pairings I have tried while hosting beer and cheese pairings classes at Murray’s Cheese and other venues, that will get you started on the right path. I have listed the styles of beer and cheese before each actually pairing to provide a jumping off point for your own pairing exploration. While the actual beer and cheese I chose to match together might not always be available, pairing beer and cheese styles that tend to go together is usually a safe, delicious bet. This section will continue to grow as we discover more amazing pairings!
German Hefeweizen and Aged Goat Cheese….Like…
Schneider-Weisse and Chevre Noir
Czech Style Pilsner and Bloomy Rinded Cheese….Like….
Lagunitas Pils and Constant Bliss– I was honestly shocked that this pairing worked as well as it did. Think of this as an alternative to a traditional pairing of Normandy and Cider and Camembert and it will make more sense. Good cider and good pilsner share many attributes, both are low in alcohol, balanced between sweetness and bitterness and great with bloomy rinded cheeses. The Lagunitas Pils work especially well, since, as a Czech style Pilsner, it had a slightly maltier body than a German style pilsner which contrasts with the bitterness of bloomy rinds very nicely.
Baltic Porter and Goat Cheese…..Like…..
Sincychbroff Porter and VBC Coupole– This pairing is like pairing milk and cookies..both are great on their own and the combination is outstanding. Baltic porters are typically fermented with lager yeasts which gives them a round, full deep flavor without the wild fruity esters that an ale yeast may produce. This malty focused base makes for an amazing combination with a broad range of creamy, fresh cheeses. If you don’t have a Baltic Porter on hand, a doppelbock will do admiraly as well. Coupole, which, if you have not tried you are really missing out. Easily one of the most amazingly consistently perfect goat cheeses being made in the USA by the talented team at Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery.
Flanders Sour Red Ale and Hard Sheeps Milk Cheese…Like….
Dutchess de Borgorgone and Ossau Iraty AOC – Some pairings make me just sigh with pleasure and this is one of those pairings. As satisfying as a Lopez del Heredia Rioja and a chunk of aged Manchego, one would assume upon tasting that Sour Flanders Red Ale and Sheep milk cheese have always been paired together. The sweet-sour soy sauce fruitiness of this beer is the perfect contrast for this aged sheep’s milk cheese from the very south of South-East France.
Imperial IPA and Camembert.…like…
Evil Twin Before, During and After Christmas and Camembert Tremblaye
Russian Imperial Stout with Blue Cheese…..Like…
North Coast Brewing Company Old Rasputin and Colston Basset Stilton – This is one of those insanely delicious pairings that matches extreme contrasts together to create the most decadent harmony imaginable. North Coast’s Rasputin Imperial Russian Stout is a full throttle flavor bomb of malty hoppy intensiveness befitting the the association with one of the most intense figures of recent history. Colston Basset Stilton is considered the best example of Stilton available. A blue cheese with class and dignity, not to mention an extremely butter, rich yielding flavor which could win over the most determined blue cheese hater. The combination explodes in your mouth with the intensity of a Wagnerian opera: saltiness, maltiness, hoppiness, creaminess all combine for the perfect flavor combination. Outstanding.