Next time you’re serving cheese, serve it with beer. Photo Courtesy of Cabot Creamery.
Updated May 2009
Matching Cheese With Beer & Wine
Pairing Wine With Is Classic, But Beer Is Equally Great
Whether you want to find the best cheeses for the type of beer you’re serving—or the best beers for the type of cheese you’re serving—this is your reference source! This article is part of our feature on pairing beer and food—check out the recipes below after you’ve found your perfect cheese and beer pairing. This is Page 2 of a two-page article. Click on the link below to visit Page 2.
Pairing Cheese With Beer & Wine
Most people immediately think “wine and cheese,” but what about beer and cheese? Its heritage is equally as old and even more solid: both was historically made on the farm by the housewife, whereas viticulture and winemaking was a specialty craft.
Not only do beer and cheese have an ancient heritage, but some cheeses actually have flavors that pair even better with beer. Quite a few cheese experts feel that, by its structural nature, cheeses are more harmonious with beer than with wine: the nut and caramel aromas found in aged cheeses are also present in malty beers like brown ales, stouts and porters. Beer is also much less acidic than winemaking a pairing with creamy cheese more harmonious.
For sure, Belgians, those great beer-makers, have been enjoying their cheese with beer, not wine, since the Middle Ages and before. And as Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at the wonderful Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table points out, unlike wine, beer is neither intimidating nor expensive. In other words, you can pretty much afford to buy one bottle of everything and experiment to find out which matches sing to you.
In general, lighter beers like pilsner and wheat beers complement mild cheeses; but the reverse is not true: an intense beer with an intense cheese is just too much of a good thing. It’s better to seek moderation, e.g. a more mellow beer with a big, complex cheese. As with wine pairings, there are no hard-and-fast rules: the only rule is what you like. But here are some guidelines:
- Young, fresh cheeses (Chevre, Mozzarella) go best with lighter beers
- Sharp cheeses (Cheddar, Colby) go best with highly hopped, bitter beers
- Aged, nutty cheeses (Asiago, Gruyere) demand malty beers
- Blue cheeses (Roquefort, Stilton), which go well with sweet wines, also require sweet beers
But it can’t be summed up in four bullet points, which is why we’ve provided an extensive chart on the next page.
Continue To Next Page: Beer & Cheese Pairing Chart
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