Like beer, cheese can trace its roots firmly to the beginnings of civilisation. In Britain, the process of cheese making has been going on for almost as long as brewing. Both cheese and beer are fermented, aged and shaped by yeasty wizardry. Both can be enjoyed at their most youthful with simple, clean flavours or with some maturity when a more exciting array of complex characteristics come into play.
There is no better way of paying homage to the fromage than with a beer. Both beer and cheese are fermented, aged and shaped by tiny little organisms: And both can be enjoyed when freshly made - with simple, clean flavours, or with some maturity - when an awesome array of complex characters come out to play.
Beer has the bubbles and the bitterness to lift cheese’s rich, indulgent textures off the palate while cheese, in return, mellows out beer’s bitterness. But beyond the bubbles and the brine, there are so many textures and tastes to play with. Beer and cheese can both be creamy, dry, spicy, sweet, fruity and tangy.
The Three C’s
So, how do you know which beer to pair to with a given food? The key is in the “three C’s”: complement, cut and contrast. Learn more about these principles here.
Pairing beer with cheese
Don’t just take our word for it, organise a beer and cheese night. Five friends, five cheeses, five beers and you’ve got yourself an evening for under twenty-five quid.
To get started, grab some wine glasses from the cupboard, as a more elegant drinking vessel helps encourage beer’s complex aromas and flavours. Then lay out the usual suspects of breads, biscuits and crackers but keep it simple, they are after all just a delivery vehicle for the cheese. Look to a baguette, table water biscuits and basic crackers.
Now the cheese and beer. Start with soft, strong flavoured cheeses like Camembert and Brie with delicate pale ales and lagers such as Cornish Pilsner, Deuchars IPA or Poretti. Go a bit left field and opt for goat’s cheese with a Meantime Raspberry Wheat Beer (the beer and cheese share a tartness), followed by a big and bold Gouda with its rich, sweet caramel flavours with a slightly salty edge.
These dovetail delightfully with beers that demonstrate warm yet complex flavours. Full bodied ales such as Well’s Bombardier, Jenning’s Sneck Lifter or even Sam Adams Boston Lager fit the bill.
For mature Cheddar look for beers with rich, fruity flavours that will spike the similar flavours in the cheese. Duvel, Thornbridge Jaipur, Worthington White Shield and St Austell Proper Job are all excellent options.
And what better way to end than with a ripe blue cheese such as Stilton or Roquefort. For these strong and strapping styles go for stouts, porters, brown ales and strong ales. Camden Ink, Robinson’s Old Tom, Hook Norton Double Stout and Five Points Railway Porter will all get on famously with these salty, creamy cheeses.
BEER STYLE AND CHEESE
|Light lagers and ales|
Camembert and Brie
|This is a clean, easy and complementary combination as the beer and cheese both have similar acidity and sweetness,while the fruit flavours of the beer are a great foil to the cheese’s creaminess.||• Poretti|
• St. Austell Korev
• Black Sheep
• Rolling Rock
• Young’s Bitter
• Brakspear Bitter
• Deuchars IPA
|Goat’s cheese displays subtle honey aromas and sweet organic herbal flavours with traditionalBelgian fruit beers such as Belle-Vue Kriek, which are renowned for a similar tartness.Sharp raspberry beers are a fantastic substitute for a raspberry vinaigrette – often drizzled over goat’s cheese salads.||• Liefmans|
• Williams Bros. Fraoch
• Badger Ale’s Golden Glory
• Belle-Vue Kriek
• Meantime Raspberry Wheat
|A full bodied lager or ale|
Gouda, Emmental, Gruyere
|A traditional Gouda-style cheese is big and bold displaying round,rich, sweet, caramel flavours with a slightly salty edge. To cope with this robust cheese and its dry saltiness, you need to reach for beers with subtle sweetness, a touch of caramel and|
a solid body and mouthfeel.
• London Pride
• Hook Norton Old Hooky
• Everards Tiger Copper Ale
|IPA, strong ales|
|A mature Cheddar is sharp and rich, so you need something that will go toe-to-toe and trade blows with it. Look for beers with rich, hoppy, fruity flavours that will spike the similar flavours in the cheese.The hops are especially important as they cut through the cheese.||• Worthington’s White Shield|
• Badger Ale’s Tanglefoot
• Marston’s Old Empire
• St Austell Proper Job
• Purity Longhorn
• Sharp’s Wolf Rock
• Thornbridge Jaipur IPA
|Stouts, porters, dark ales, strong ales|
Stilton, Roquefort, Cachel
|For this style of cheese you need|
something strong and strapping. Given the cheese’s creaminess, high acidity, pungency and saltiness, reach for a strong stout, a powerful porter, a tart and citrusy geuze or a beer that, like the cheese, has benefitted from long and languid maturation for extra complexity.
|• Camden Ink|
• Harviestoun Ola Dubh
• Meantime Chocolate Porter
• Fuller’s London Porter
• Harvey’s Imperial Russian Stout
• Robinsons Old Tom