Pairing Beer and Cheese

Did you know that today is National Cheese Lover Day?? What a fantastic day to celebrate all things cheese AND be reminded that cheese offers a multitude of minerals & vitamins that are beneficial for your body, hello healthy bones! Cheese also has protein and fat in it, both of which are good for our body. You may agree with me when it comes to protein, but are you still on team fat-free or low-fat?

If you are I am not here to make you feel bad for that. Everyone has a right to choose the forms of foods they wish to eat them in. Sometimes I choose these options when it comes to dairy foods because I like the taste. Other times I choose full fat, whole milk forms because it’s more satisfying or works better in a recipe. Depends on my mood and what I’m cooking! Steve prefers the whole fat versions and a spouses’ opinion also plays a factor in the foods chosen to eat.

What we know from history is how fat used to be the enemy of weight loss and is sometimes still advertised as such. “You should choose low-fat/fat-free to save on calories so you can lose weight.” Sound familiar? Me too. But, as far as cheese goes…I’m not seeing science based evidence that relates eating cheese directly to chronic disease. You might see articles that cheese causes this or that symptom along with x, y, and z and certainly those who are lactose-intolerant/allergic may need to change the type of cheese they eat (or eliminate it).

Anyone watch the office here?

But if anything is being shared more loud and clear right now, it’s that full fat versions of cheese/dairy may be more beneficial when it comes to a balanced diet because it is tastier and produces more satiety (filling) so you may eat less. In this study from five years ago, they found that consumption dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods did not support the idea that they directly contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk.

The thing is, you can’t feed a human only cheese and say that it caused obesity or heart disease. So when you see articles out there demonizing a food because a study found something (gasp!)…it’s not generally something that can be applied to EVERYONE. That’s the beauty and grime of science, but it’s why I find that a no-size-fits-all approach to educating people works well. Is it okay to choose low-fat cheese? Sure. Is it also okay to choose full fat cheese? Yep. What’s more important to me is your reason WHY. Are you punishing yourself with low-fat cheese because you were, “bad” over the weekend or are you picking one over the other based on personal preferences or heck, one was on sale?

I digress. What I really wanted to share with you for National Cheese Day (THIS SUNDAY! January 20th!) is a way to enjoy cheese in (maybe) a new way – with beer! Cheese not only pairs with beer well, they are similar in that they both get fermented and aged so they are primed and ready for us to drink/eat. Also, think about how many beer and cheese styles there are…SO many to choose from. So how can we pair them together?

Just like in the above rant about what type of cheese you choose, it can be pretty individual when it comes to pairing cheese with beer. I’ll make suggestions, but you’ll have to try them for yourself – and mix and match them too – to find what you like best.

**If you’re going to taste a bunch all together on a beer/cheese board though…make sure to consider your order. Don’t taste a super sharp cheddar first and jump to brie next…your palette likes it when you build it up gradually!**

A general tip from Steve when he lead a beer & cheese pairing (well, he’s led a good number of these!) is to go slow and take turns. First eat the cheese, what textures and flavors are you experiencing? Then try the beer, what’s happening now? Now try them together. It makes it more of an experiment in mindfulness and getting to know your taste buds which is pretty fun.

I’m choosing four beer styles to start so read on below to get an idea for what kind of cheese to pair with these styles. Remember to also mix and match, just because I say one pairs well doesn’t mean you can’t try all the cheese with all the beers!

  • Sours – Sour is a general term to describe these as the bacteria in the beer gives them their taste but the variety of yeast used will give them a funky or earthy (barnyard to me) quality. Sours can cut into a cheese that’s really rich and soft like goat cheese or brie so for me the two work well together.
  • Saisons – A saison will typically have fruity and citrus flavors which can go great with soft and semi soft cheese. Even something like a muenster or Monterey jack will help the fruity notes sing and the cheese fit in nicely.
  • IPAs – Since all IPAs are different, the cheese that works best might vary. An aged cheddar or gouda might pair well since both will have a pronounced bitterness and a little funk without being too over the top.
  • Stouts- Since these are popular more in the winter, try an imperial stout with blue cheese for a strong finish (i.e. don’t start with blue cheese when you’re trying multiple cheeses/beers!). We also liked smoked cheeses with stouts for a more robust and full flavor all around.

Try this sample cheese & beer pairing board:

  • The Oarsmen Berliner Weisse from Bell’s Brewery with goat cheese.
  • Cropduster IPA from Grand Armory with sharp cheddar
  • Farmhand (saison) from Brewery Vivant with brie.
  • Dragon’s Milk (BBA Imperial Stout) from New Holland Brewing with blue cheese.
**Tipsy tip: Have water & crackers nearby or on your fancy cheese plate so that you can break up the tastes your palette is experiencing & remember…everyone’s taste buds are different so go out there and try some out!**

Cheers!

Did you try the pairings above? Have you found any on your own that you love? Share’m with me below! OR take a photo and tag me on Instagram @The_beer_RD!

Share your thoughts!