Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Sara Kahn. If you would like to contribute a guest post to BlogAboutBeer.com, please contact me.
Imagine my surprise at the results of one of our recent surveys of gourmet cheese lovers: men overwhelmingly preferred wine (73%) over beer when enjoying cheese. I suppose this shouldn’t be so shocking given how much attention wine is paid when discussing food and beverage pairings in the media and at restaurants. Besides, haven’t we been culturally conditioned to embrace wine and cheese as a copacetic culinary combination much like we have peanut butter and jelly? Perhaps cheese eaters don’t realize that beer just may be the better beverage choice.
Beer, like wine, has something in common with cheese. All of these products are pastoral and crafted using traditional methods that date back centuries. Wine, beer and cheese speak of a particular culture, a place and a time. The connection between beer and cheese is particularly strong since the animals milked for cheese ate the grains used for brewing beer. It’s possible that your nose and palate may pick up similar flavor profiles. Putting aside their natural affinity, perhaps the most important reason to pair beer with cheese is that the carbonation and brisk qualities of beer refresh the mouth and wash away the tongue-coating richness of the cheese. Simply put, they taste good together.
We have all heard of wine and cheese parties but what about beer and cheese parties? As a beer lover, I am sure you’ll want to join me in spreading the gospel of this pairing perfection but may not know where to begin when it comes to selecting the right combinations. Take a look at the Gourmet Cheese and Beer Pairing Guide below for guidance. You’ll see how easy it is to serve a cheese course with your favorite brew. For best results, just add friends and family.
Gourmet Cheese and Beer Pairing Guide
A cheese course is about observing and enjoying contrasting and complementary flavors. For a foolproof cheese course, select 3 – 5 cheeses that vary in texture and flavor (see the list below). Add some crusty bread, fresh or dried fruit, olives and nuts and voila!
When choosing the right beer pairing, there are no hard and fast rules. It’s important that your selections don’t overwhelm the cheese and vice versa. Essentially, you’ll want to match beer and cheese of the same intensity level. Just remember “like for like”.
Fresh and Bloomy Cheeses – Fresh cheeses are not aged and usually are white and light in flavor, smooth and sometimes tangy. Try chevre (goat cheese) or feta. Encased in a whitish, edible rind, bloomy cheeses are often velvety, gooey with a mild flavor. Add Brie, Camembert or Pierre-Robert to the cheese board for a decadent treat.
Beer Pairings – The light citrus character of White and Wheat Beers marries well with the lactic tang of fresh cheeses. Pilsner, with its balanced flavor and mildly bitter finish, washes the palate of creamy, bloomy cheeses.
Washed Rind – AKA “Stinky Cheeses”. During the aging process, washed-rind cheeses are usually bathed in a brine or washed with liquor such as wine, beer or a spirits. It’s this brining process that gives the cheese an aromatic quality. Almost all have orange or reddish hued rinds. Not mild and not sharp, washed rind cheeses are full-flavored. Give Taleggio or Epoisses a taste.
Beer Pairings – India Pale Ale and Trappist beers have enough gusto to stand up to the power of these cheeses.
Aged, Hard Cheeses – As cheeses matures, it hardens and concentrates in flavor. Look for 2 Year (or older) Cheddar, Aged Gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Beer Pairings – A pint of English ale is the traditional beverage of choice for Cheddar. The nutty and caramelized flavors of aged Gouda and Parmigiano match well with brown ales.
Blue – The bluish-green veins give blue cheese its punch. Listed from strong to strongest in pungency are creamy Gorgonzola, nutty Stilton and salty Roquefort.
Beer Pairings – Intense cheeses like blues can be tamed with sweet, fruity beers. For a unique treat, try a raspberry flavored beer like Belgian Lambic with blue cheese for dessert.
About Sara Kahn:
Even though her passion for gourmet cheese was undying, Sara Kahn found shopping for it to be overwhelming, time consuming and confusing. She established The Cheese Ambassador to offer a simple way to select and serve the world’s finest cheeses either for home entertaining or as a unique cheese gift. By providing the perfect combination of exquisite cheese along with a comprehensive cheese course guide, enjoying gourmet cheese is now a deliciously enriching experience.