Beer and Cheese

Our customers often ask our cheesemongers in the store for suggestions on what cheeses should they pair with a certain beer, or the other way around. Just like suggesting any pairing, each cheesemonger may have their own personal favorites, but here are a few suggested pairings I would like to offer.

As the craft beer movement in America continues to explode, the choices we have today are more and more interesting. One of the hottest styles of beer in the craft beer industry is IPAs, or India Pale Ales. This beer was first developed by the British during the height of the British Empire. They discovered that the early beer they were sending to one of their largest colonies, India, was spoiled by the time it arrived. The long journey from England took many months and for much of that time they were sailing in some very warm parts of the world. They soon discovered that if they make the beer with higher alcohol content, and added a much larger dose of hops in the recipe, it would arrive in India in good condition.

The IPAs brewed in America can vary a bit from region to region, but one thing can usually be said; this style of beer is tart, tangy, with just a note of citrus and a palate-cleaning bitterness. The best types of cheeses for this beer are tangy cheddars and creamy, higher fat cheeses. Willi Lehhner’s (Blue Mont. Dairy) Bandaged Cheddar is a really good cheese with IPAs. Other choices include Widmer’s six-year cheddar, and Dante, an aged sheep cheese from the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-op.

Stouts and Porters are another good beer with cheese. Both these beers owe their dark color and layered aromas to deeply roasted barley malt. The scent/flavor of these beers is often described as toast, toffee, raisons, molasses, and even chocolate. We really like a beer called Black Bavarian from the Sprecker Brewing Co. in Milwaukee. This dark-porter style beers pairs really well with wash rind cheeses, like Pleasant Ridge Reserve (Uplands Cheese), Aged Brick (Widmer’s), and Green Fields (Saxon Creamery).

The bolder flavor of all three of these cheeses pair very well with the Black Bavarian.

Lighter style lagers and German style Pilsners seem to pair really well with the fantastic raw milk Goudas made by Marieke Penterman of Holland’s Family Cheese in Thorp, WI. Other cheese choices would include Caso Bollo (Carr Valley), a mixed milk aged cheese that combines cow, sheep and goats milk, and aged two + years, and the Creamy Gorgonzola made by Belgioioso in the Green Bay area. All three of these cheeses are rich and creamy, which pairs really well with the light, palate cleansing qualities of Lager and Pilsner.

There are so many choices when it comes to pairings. My advice to you is to ask your favorite cheesemonger, or just go ahead and try a few on your own.