Earlier this week I had the pleasure of "researching" my newest pairing project ... Beer and Cheese! Kelly Briglio and Tina Thayer, owners of Paradise Pantry, took time to sit down with me and explain a little bit about cheese but more importantly they indulged me for two hours while we tasted eleven different cheeses and seven different beers. This series will detail each of those cheeses and the beers that brought a little extra life to them.
At the beginning of each post I will briefly describe the highlighted cheese. Below the cheese description you will find the beer pairing suggestions. Most of the cheeses will have at least two detailed beer pairing suggestions and some will have three! The beer suggestions will include detailed descriptions of each pairing as well as detailed descriptions of the beer.
Click image to visit Paradise Pantry.
If you live in or near Ventura, CA be sure to stop in at Paradise Pantry and say hello and buy some cheese especially if these pairings inspired you to try something new be sure to let Kelly and Tina know you read about them here!
This is a rich, creamy and salty cheese with a great funky tasting rind. Why does the rind taste so good? Because it was washed with a lambic-style beer that was brewed with the farm's very own wild yeast!
The sample I tasted was quite salty and had a pronounced meaty flavor (think bacon). The velvety texture of the cheese coats the inside of your mouth with a lingering aftertaste of salt and bacon. Make sure you take a bite of the rind as that will help balance the truly decadent nature of this cheese.
Paired with: Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Ouroboros Old Bar Brown Ale, Redhook Longhammer IPA,
Other Beer Pairing suggestions: Barleywine (young), Biere de Garde, Doppelbock, Imperial Stouts, Wee Heavy,
My cheese pairing categories: buttery, earthy, pungent
Pairing Description: You can use any American style IPA and still get a great pairing. The Redhook Longhammer IPA is a milder American style IPA with pleasant piney/citrus aromas and citrus hop flavors. The refreshing bitterness balances the cheese's decadent flavors and funky rind. The pronounced hop flavor and bitterness help cleanse the palate.
Other Examples: Two Hearted Ale, 60 Minute IPA, Hop Devil Ale, Raser 5, Titan, Blind Pig
Serving Temp: 40°- 45°
Glassware: Pint Glass, Mug
Aroma: Think citrus (grapefruit), resinous pine, or even tropical fruit. There may be a slight sweetness present from the malt but the hop aromas will most likely cover up those aromas.
Appearance: Colors will vary from medium gold to a reddish copper but they will all be clear unless they have been dry hopped and then there may be a slight haze. Because the malt used has very little dark color the head will be white to off white and should persist.
Flavor: IPA’s are all about the hops (bitterness, flavor and aroma) and so there will be medium to high amount of hop flavor and bitterness that will reflect the American hop citrus qualities (citrusy, floral, resinous, pine). Malt flavor will be low to showcase all the hop characteristics.
Mouthfeel: You can expect a medium body with a pleasing mouth puckering bitterness (think grapefruit) that helps to dry the beer out and creates a thirst quenching, refreshing beer.
Food Pairings: Cheese: Pepper Jack. Meat: Fish, smoked salmon. Cuisine: American, Mexican.
HopHeadSaid: I love IPA’s! They are refreshing when it is hot out and their warming alcohol keeps you warm when it is cold. These beers pair well with many foods especially savory or sweet foods. The bitterness and alcohol help cleanse the palate of savory foods like cheeses or fried foods and the bitterness also helps keep the sweet foods in check. But if you want to spice things up a bit drink an IPA with some spicy salsa. The bitterness momentarily emphasizes the spice but the alcohol helps to refresh the palate just like a tortilla chip.
Pairing Description: This pairing is unique in that the cheese makes the beer taste sweeter. The cheese's pronounced salty bacon flavors accentuate the slightly sweet malt flavors and hide nearly all of the beer's roasty flavors. This is a treat for people who prefer sweeter beers.
If you can't find this beer I suggest you try one or more of these porters instead: Anchor Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter or Great Divide's Saint Bridget’s Porter.
Serving Temp: 50°- 55°
Glassware: Pint Glass, Mug
Aroma: Roasty aroma should be noticeable may be pronounced with coffee and/or chocolate undertones.
Appearance: Pours a dark brown with garnet highlights with a fluffy tan head.
Flavor: Noticeable roasty malt flavors of strong coffee, dark chocolate or slightly burnt toast.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body that may finish drier because of roasty characters. Warming alcohol feeling may be present.
Food Pairings: Cuisine: barbecue, Mexican. Cheese: earthy. Dessert: chocolate. Meat: beef, smoked meat, grilled meat.
HopHeadSaid: Robust porters are really easy to pair with food. Their roasty notes resonate with grilled foods and their flavor intensities ensure they will hold their own in most pairings. Robust porters also pair well with many desserts. Their roasty flavors help balance sweeter desserts while their dark chocolate/coffee flavors resonate well with chocolate desserts.
I just found this video, loved it, and I thought would share it with you. It showcases a road trip to see all the Deschutes Brewery label landmarks. Warning: there is a brief, very brief, female nipple shot in this video.
American Brown Ale
Pairing Description: Old Bar Brown Ale is one of the more assertive brown ales I have tried and that is what makes this such a great pairing beer for Winnemere. The funky rind combines with the chocolaty malt to create a incredible flavor that has to be experienced. Imagine a combination of tart sweet fruit (hops and esters) dark chocolate (beer malt) all being enjoyed in some old world horse barn. And all of that is happening in your mouth! Old Bar Brown Ale holds its own in this incredible pairing and ultimately out shines the cheese while it cleanses your palate.
If you cant'f find this particular beer, I suggest you start with Indian Brown Ale from Dogfish Head, Bender from Surly Brewing Co or Moose Drool Brown Ale from Big Sky Brewing Co.
Serving Temp:40°- 45°
Glassware:Pint Glass, Mug
Aroma: Hints of sweet chocolate, caramel with toasted nuts are typical of this style. Some American browns have pronounced hop aromas especially if they are dry hopped.
Appearance: Pours clear brown to dark brown with a light tan head.
Flavor: Pronounced sweet malty flavors reminiscent of caramel and chocolate are balanced by elevated hop flavors and bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body that finish fairly dry due to the hops and elevated carbonation levels.
Food Pairings:Cuisine: Barbecue. Cheese: Earthy, Nutty. Meat: beef. Dessert: Chocolate.
HopHeadSaid: I prefer American brown ales over English brown ales because of the elevated hop profiles. The hop profiles help balance the toasted caramely/chocolate sweetness keeping the beer refreshing without limiting the beer’s pairing ability. The assertive hop intensity means the malt flavors have to be increased making it a great pairing beer for grilled foods, assertive cheeses and chocolate desserts.
*Photo credits: Photos linked to their source.
Topics: Food Pairing, Beer Pairing, Cheese Pairing, Beer and Food, Beer and Cheese
Below you will find some basic beer and cheese pairing suggestions. This is only a starting point! You will notice that many beers pair well with different cheeses. Use the list to guide your tasting experiments; pair your favorite beer with several different cheeses and pick your favorite "house" pairing.
Along the way you are sure to find a specialty cheese (one not on this list) and a beer style (one that isn't a suggested pairing) that are magical together. When you do find that magical pairing please share your experience with us.
Buttery Cheeses and Beer Pairing Suggestions
Buttery flavors: Asiago (w/age) Burrata, Gouda, Havarti, Mascarpone, Monterey Jack, Muenster, Oaxaca, Parmesan, Swiss, Gratte-Paille,
American Imperial Stout, American Porter, American Stout, Baltic Porter, Berliner Weissbier, Dubbel, Eisbock, ESB, Gueuze, Old Ale, Quadrupel, Dry Stout, Wee Heavy
Earthy Cheeses and Beer Pairing Suggestions
Earthy flavors: Blue, Brie, Camembert, Fontina (mild), Gorgonzola
Ales: Altbier, American Brown, APA, American Wheat, American Stout, Belgian Dark Ale, Biere de Champagne, Biere de Garde, English Brown Ale, English Pale Ale, English Porter, English Stout, English Strong Ale, Flanders Oud Bruin, Flanders Red Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Saison/Farmhouse Ale
American Pale Lager, Bock, Doppelbock
Milky Cheeses and Beer Pairing Suggestions
Milky flavors: Burrata, Colby, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Oaxaca, String Cheese, Abbaye du Mont des Cats, Abbaye de Tamie', Langres AOC,
American Brown, APA, American Wheat, Blonde Ale, Dunkelweizen, Hefeweizen, Rye Beer,
Nutty Cheeses and Beer Pairing Suggestions
Nutty flavors: Asiago (w/age), Cheddar, Cream, Fontina, Gruyere, Parmesan (w/ age), Swiss, Ardi-Gasna, Banon AOC (aged), Banon aux Baies Roses, Brique du Forez, Buchette Pont d'Yeu (young), Crayeux de Roncq, Emmental de Savoie, Lou Sotch, Lucullus,
American Brown, APA, American Stout, American Strong, Biere de Champagne, Biere de Garde, Gueuze, Dunkelweizen, English Bitter, English Brown Ale, English IPA, English Pale Ale, English Stout, ESB, Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Maibock, Helles Bock,
Pungent Cheeses and Beer Pairing Suggestions
Pungent flavors: Brie (w/ age), Limburger, Banon a la Sarriette,
American IPA, American Wild Ale, Belgian IPA, Dubbel, DIPA, English Barleywine, Gueuze, Lambic, Saison/Farmhouse Ale, Tripel,
Sharp Cheeses and Beer Pairing Suggestions
Sharp (piquant) flavors: Asiago (young), Blue, Cheddar, Chevre, Feta, Fontina (w/ age), Gorgonzola, Manchego (w/age) Monterey Jack, Provolone, Romano, Banon AOC (aged), Bergues, Berrichon, Bouton-de-Culotte,
American Amber/Red, American Barleywine, American IPA, APA, American Wild Ale, Belgian IPA, Belgian Pale Ale, Berliner Weissbier, Biere de Garde, DIPA, Flanders Red Ale, English Barleywine, English Bitter, English IPA, English Pale Ale, English Strong Ale, Gueuze, Lambic, Hefeweizen, Quadrupel, Roggenbier, Tripel, Witbier
Bohemian Pilsener/Czech Pilsener, California Common/Steam Beer, Eisbock, Imperial Pilsner, Rauchbier,
Spicy Cheeses and Beer Pairing Suggestions
Spicy flavors: Pepper Jack
American IPA, American Lager, American Wild Ale, Blonde Ale, , DIPA, English Pale Ale, Rye Beer, Witbier,
California Common/Steam Beer, German Pilsener, Rauchbier
Topics: Food Pairing, Beer Pairing, Cheese Pairing, Beer and Food, Beer and Cheese
What is a Pale Ale?
There are two categories of pale ales: American and English. Both pale ales are light to medium bodied, generally clear, and light yellow to light copper in color. Both styles are brewed to be refreshing and easy drinking beers.
English Pale Ales, also known as bitters, generally have very little hop aroma. The malt in these beers produces a slight caramel or toasty flavor, yet are not overly sweet. Bitters are fairly low in alcohol; stylistically they range from 3.2 to 3.8% ABV. These beers have a low to moderate bitterness that can be earthy or spicy depending on the type of hops used. The traditional yeast used in these beers gives them a slight fruity ester. An ester is an aroma that can almost be tasted. Carbonation for English pale ales can range from low to medium depending on the serving method.
American Pale Ales (APA’s) are more aggressive than their English counterparts. They typically have a moderate to strong hop aroma that can range from grapefruit to pine and are accentuated even more by APA’s moderate to high carbonation. APA’s moderate bitterness is balanced by the malt although the malt flavor won’t be as pronounced as in English pale ales. The most commonly used yeasts in APA’s produce little or no fruity esters. These beers are generally crystal clear unless hops are added during the bottling process. This hopping technique is called dry hopping and can cause a slight haze in the beer and it will increase the hop aroma but not the overall bitterness of the beer.
Complementary pairings occur when the food and the beer mix together and create a harmonious flavor profile that didn’t exist when the food and beer were consumed separately. Pairing foods such as smoky cheeses or grilled meats with a bitter are complimentary because the toasty and sometimes nutty flavors of the malt mimic the flavors found in these foods. The fruity esters of a bitter also pair well with sharp cheeses like cheddar or specialty cheeses that contain fruit or nuts. APAs can also complement fruity or sharp cheeses but it depends on the hops used. Some hops have citrusy aromas and flavors that can draw out the fruit flavors found in these types cheeses.
Contrasting pairings occur when the food and beer mix together and accentuate or diminish a particular flavor profile. APA’s work well in contrasting pairings because their hop levels naturally counteract the sweetness. If you like spicy foods, then pair an APA with hot salsas or curries because their elevated hop levels and alcohol content will accentuate the spicy ingredients. Conversely, if you are looking to bring down the heat a little, try the milder English pale ale because its pronounced malt profile will absorb some of the heat. APA’s pair well with fried foods or grilled meat because their elevated carbonation levels, alcohol content and citrusy flavors cleanse the palate.
The Wild Card
Carbonation is the wild card component in any pale ale pairing because it directly impacts the beer’s presentation, aromatics and perceived bitterness. Moderate to high carbonation levels will produce a sparkly beer with a thick aromatic head. Higher carbonation levels drive out more hop and malt aromatics from the beer, providing another layer of complexity to your pairing. Carbonation also helps to remove residual oils and flavors from your palate. Conversely, beers with lower carbonation levels allow flavors to linger, which can build up over the course of a meal.
Rule of Thumb
Pale ales (both American and English) are the workhorses of food pairings, as they go well with just about any food. When planning your next pairing be sure to explore all the possible flavor components of the meal and pick one component that you want to accentuate. Pick a pale ale that will do want you want, whether it is cleanse your palate, build a different flavor profile altogether or accentuate the spices of your meal.
Cheese isn’t just for wine, anymore.
Now it’s time to start drinking! Err, I mean start exploring the wonderful world of pale ales. I suggest keeping it simple and begin with beer and cheese pairings. Choose two or three beers from each category and do the same with the cheeses. Take small bites and let the cheese “melt” over your entire tongue, in a word SAVOR. Follow each bite with a small drink of beer and be sure to savor the beer as well. Take tasting notes along the way to record your experience. These notes will ensure that you can reproduce your favorite pairings again. Be careful not to overindulge, you’ll want to be able to read your hand writing in the morning.
Now start enjoying the finer things in life and make them even better with beer. Cheers!
English Pale Ales
Boddingtons Pub Ale (can)
Fuller’s Chiswick Bitter
American Pale Ales
Deschutes Mirror Pond
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Stone Pale Ale
Earthy Cheeses: Gouda, Fontina
Nutty Cheeses: Munster, Colby
Tangy Cheeses: Goat, Feta
Topics: Food Pairing, Beer Pairing, Cheese Pairing, Beer and Food, Beer and Cheese
Getting you started, ASAP!
You can get started pairing beer with food right now if you want. There’s nothing to it, in fact I bet you have been doing it quite successfully for years whether you
realize it or not. Have you ever had beer with pizza? Bingo! How about beer with
burger and fries? That’s a good match, too. These are classic examples of beer and food pairings for a good reason. They taste great together. So you really don’t need to wait for some beer geek to write an article before you start because your beer intuition is working just fine. I am here to help out with the more challenging pairings like spicy Thai, savory stews or even dessert. Beer isn’t just for pizza and burgers anymore.
Pairing beer and food isn’t rocket science and it is important to remember that is there is no one right way to pair beer with food. If it tastes good then it is
a good pairing. If it doesn’t work out quite the way you had hoped keep in mind that you just gave yourself good reason to have another beer. That sounds like a win-win situation to me. However, if you are looking for a little extra guidance then read on and by the time you are done with this article you will have enough information to get started with your first beer and food pairings.
Rule of Thumb.
You have probably heard something similar to “red wines with red sauces and white wines with white sauces”. There is a similar rule of thumb for beer and it is light dishes should be paired with light (as in delicate or light bodied not diet) beers. Heavier dishes should be paired with heavier or full bodied beers that have big flavors and big aromas. This is a great place to start when you are learning to pair
beer with foods. Let’s say you are having a lightly grilled and lightly seasoned
fish. A good beer pairing for this meal would be a beer that doesn’t overwhelm
your palate like a wheat beer. If you decided to quaff a mighty double IPA with
this meal chances are you wouldn’t taste much of your fish because the beer will
have fatigued your taste buds. Conversely, if you were enjoying a heavy flavorful meal like smoked or barbecued meat you would want to pair that with a heavier more flavorful beer just so you could taste what you are drinking. Otherwise you may just as well drink water.
Beer and food pairings will likely fall into two different categories: complementary flavor pairings and contrasting flavor pairings. Complementary flavor pairings occur when the beer and food share a similar taste profile and build upon each other to create a more intense flavor. An example of a complimentary food pairing would be pairing an American wheat ale with buffalo Buratta. The subtle hops, fruity esters and creamy texture of the beer enhance the cream filled Buratta’s texture and flavors. Contrasting flavor parings occur when the beer and food flavors work against each other and keep any one flavor profile from dominating. A good example of a contrasting flavor paring is an amber ale paired with a spicy chili. The malty amber ale will tamp back the spices while the carbonation will cut through the chili oils and lift them off your tongue.
It’s your turn.
Now it is time to put all this “theory” to the test. When you plan your next meal start with a light salad and pair it with a beer from the “Lighter Beer Styles” found on the side bar. Take your time to enjoy this course and maybe even take some notes.
Jot down your initial impressions and be sure to record how the tastes changed throughout the salad all the way to the finish. Move on to the main course and be sure to rinse out your glass or get a new one before you start another beer. Plan a heavier dish like one I explained earlier and pair that with one of the heavier beers. Keep notes like you did with your salad and plan any changes for your
Remember to have fun.
If you use the rule of thumb from above and reference the side bar information you can get started right away pairing your favorite beer styles with some tasty dishes. Remember you are just eating and drinking beer so don’t forget to have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. The last thing the world needs is a pretentious beer prick.
Topics: Food Pairing, Beer Pairing, Beer and Food