Beer and cheese: a match made in heaven

by Irina Vishnevskaya, Tastemaker in Residence

So you’ve heard me on my soapbox about the general tenets of pairing beer with food, in this previous post, but now I’d like to explore one of the most famous pairings of all: beer and cheese. 

I once went on a Belgian beer tour for a few days (life was rough) and at one of the breweries we were told that research has been done and cheese is really the ideal food to eat with a glass of beer. She didn’t site her sources on the research and quite honestly I’m not sure if we need any scientific evidence here- just try it, you’ll understand. 

Both cheese and beer were originally products of a farmhouse, and in fact, in many places in England a “Ploughman’s Lunch” consists of beer, cheese and cold meat. And as with so many other things in modern day life, we’re now discovering that the farmers of the days of old really did know best. 

Pairings to play around with...

Goat cheese with Wheat beer

  • The more character a goat cheese has, the stronger variation of wheat beer selected to be its pair. Wheat beer with the most character tend to be Belgian-made Witbier, which includes a high level of wheat and is always spiced with coriander, orange peel as well as an assortment of other spices, a lot of carbonation and is usually on the higher side of alcoholic content.

Gorgonzola with Barleywine

  • Choose a creamy Gorgonzola (or even go for a Gorgonzola/ Brie mixture) to pair with the smoothness of Barleywine. By the way, Barleywine is not at all a wine; it’s an ale made of grain but its high alcoholic content (usually 8 to 12%!) is the reason wine was tacked onto its name a long time ago. 

Parmesan and India Pale Ale (IPA) 

  • The hard, gritty texture and fruity, nutty taste that Parmesan is known for makes it a wonderful companion for characteristically herbal, citrusy IPAs. Try to stick with IPAs that aren't too terribly hoppy (no double IPAs or anything of the sort!) as their hop content may smother the cheese a bit too much. 

Gruyere and Dunkel 

  • A quieter, more well behaved pairing, the sweet/salty subtle complexity of Gruyere cheese is calmly complemented by the dark, smooth and malty nature of a German-style Dunkel beer. Ranging in color from Amber to completely black, Dunkel beer finds its home in Bavaria but is now also brewed by many craft breweries. 

Remember there is no such thing as right or wrong; listen to your palate and enjoy!