Beer and cheese parties are hip

Oct 23, 2008 at 11:42 a.m. ET

Serving wine with cheese may be a long-standing tradition, but tradition is meant to be changed (or at least updated). Instead of hosting the usual wine and cheese soiree, surprise your guests with a sophisticated beer and cheese party (no chugging allowed!).

Beer and Cheese

The allure of beer and cheese

One of the main reasons beer and cheese pair so well together is due to beer's heady carbonation.

The high content of fat in cheese allows it to take over your entire mouth. The carbonation in beer acts as a palate cleanser.

On the contrary, wine will usually leave an aftertaste in which you will need to sip water or have a cracker to ready your mouth for another taste.

Find a balance

To make the perfect beer and cheese pairing, consider balance.

If you are at all familiar with pairing wine and cheese, finding the right beer and cheese match is very similar. You want to make sure your cheese will not overpower the beer and vice versa.

For example, most IPA's or bitter beers will take over the lightness and delicacy of most fresh soft cheeses whereas a pilsner may not stand up to a smelly blue cheese.

Take texture into consideration

The texture of different cheeses makes them amenable to particular beers.

Creamy, rich cheeses probably work well with a highly carbonated or bubbly beer whereas a big dense beer may be too heavy.

A hard pungent cheese will most likely pair well with a lighter beer. You don't want to overwhelm your palate with too many bold flavors.

Location, location, location!

While not always a perfect match, pairing beer and cheese from similar locations, such as New York Cheddar with a New York brew can often yield excellent results.

By matching the origins of your beer and cheese choices, the flavors of each may be very similar – usually the grains that the cows graze on will be more akin to the grains used for the beer

Have fun with flavors

You can pair similar flavors or pair beers and cheeses that contrast in flavor.

For example, if a cheese has a nutty flavor, pair it with a similarly nutty beer. Same goes for fruit-flavored beer and cheese or even spiced beer and cheese.

Experiment with contrasting flavors. Sometimes a heavy beer may pair well with a very light cheese. More often than not, heavy and light will work well together. Keep in mind that heavy beer may not pair well with a pungent cheese, so do a taste test before your party.

Timing your tasting

Typically, the best way to taste your beer and cheese pairings is to start with the lightest beer and work your way up to the heaviest or darkest.

The most important aspect of beer and cheese pairing is finding what your palate likes. However, you may find at your party, that some of your guests like pairings you don't and vice-versa.

When it comes to beer and cheese pairing, it is truly a matter of taste.

Recommended beer and cheese pairings

  • Belgian wheat beers pair well with soft cheeses like goat, feta or chevre.
  • Fruity beers, especially the new Budweiser Wild Blue beer, pairs impeccably with mascarpone cheese. Cherry, raspberry or citrus ales also work well with this sweeter cheese.
  • Dark lagers pair nicely with fresh mozzarella.
  • High hop content beers like pilsners work great with jack cheese, muenster or havarti.
  • Aged cheddar will go great with a nice dark stout.
  • Brown ales are ideal with a sharp cheddar, colby or gloucester cheese from England.
  • A bock beer pairs well with a smoky gouda.
  • Strong Belgian ales work well with blue cheese, Stilton, Roquefort, or any creamy pungent cheese.
  • Oktoberfest beers pair superbly with Swiss, gruyere, or emmental.
  • Pale or amber ales go well with Parmesan or Romano cheeses.

Related Articles

Comfort food and autumn beer pairings
Oktoberfest beer and food
How to make beer cocktails