Beer and cheese: perfect culinary companions
There is a whole world of new taste combinations to be discovered by pairing beer and cheese.
To get you started, here’s a couple of easy recipes to try:
In the UK, a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ has been a fixture on pub menus for generations. Although there’s much debate surrounding the correct constituent elements and each chef will have their own variation, a true ploughman’s should involve a hunk of crusty bread, a pickled onion, a slab of British hard cheese and a pint of local beer.
Elsewhere in Europe, Belgium’s bars often provide beer-drinkers with a small bowl of cubed hard cheese sprinkled with celery salt, to nibble during drinking – while across the Atlantic in the American state of Kentucky, a cheese spread made using beer is a much-loved match for crackers and pretzels. The best beer to use for this dip differs depending on who you’re talking to, as closely-guarded methods for ‘beer cheese’ are handed down through families keen to keep their recipes to themselves.
But why are beer and cheese so well suited? Some say it’s the bitterness in beer which helps to break up the fats found in cheese. While others believe the main reason for pairing beer with cheese is their complementary flavor profiles. Indeed bringing the right two together is relatively simple: light beers go with delicate cheeses, while stronger ales require robustly flavored cheeses. But the only real way to discover a match is by personal experimentation.
Why not pick wheat-based beers to pair with goats’-milk cheese or creamier cow-made cheeses such as French brie, or Italian buffalo mozzarella? You could also try Belgian fruit beers to match with these more neutral tasting cheeses, drawing out the sweetness of both parties.
Hoppy lagers are said to match with nutty, salty cheeses: try them with blocks of umami-rich Italian parmesans or a tangy Greek feta cheese.
Bitter ales work beautifully with flavorful cheeses such as cheddars, providing similarly strong bitter notes to balance out the beer. Meanwhile darker beers such as bocks, brown ales and dark lagers work well with weightier, mature cheeses.
A truly dark porter or stout needs a real flavour punch from its partner. So be sure to pick a creamy blue cheese such as a Stilton from the UK, Roquefort from France, or Gorgonzola from Italy to enjoy with these strongest of beers.
Wine aficionados have long talked of terroir, the characteristics brought to wines by the geology and climate where they’re produced. If you’re able to find a cheese created in the same region as your favorite beer – or perhaps even made using beer – why not experiment to see if there’s an exciting match to be discovered?