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Pairing Beer and Cheese

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When you popped the top on your favorite beer the other night, did you stop to think about the right food to serve  with it?

That’s not a silly question. More and more people are discovering how rewarding it is to match the right beer with all sorts of food.

True, wine aficionados will go on about how a steely Sancerre was created to go with oysters on the half shell or an off-dry Riesling is perfect with spicy Thai cuisine.

But have you ever had an Irish stout, including Guinness, with those oysters? Or a crisp, clean lager, such as Singha, with Thai food?

Exploring the riches to be found by pairing cheese with beer was the topic of a recent seminar at Freetail Brewing Co., 4035 N. Loop 1604 W.

“People automatically assume wine with cheese,” Brewer Jason Davis said. “But most don’t know how good cheese is with beer.”

(Click to enlarge)

So, he started the class off with Capra Honeyed Chèvre from Belgium partnered with his  Rye Wit, a Belgian-style beer with citrus and coriander notes.

“The carbonation helps break through the fat in the cheese  and lets the flavors emerge on the palate,” he said.

The creamy, sweetness of the soft cheese paired well with the acidity of the fruit beer. Other soft cheeses to try include Camembert and Brie, he suggested.

Freetail’s Buffalo Hump IPA, with its sharply hoppy taste, was poured alongside an acidic Denhay Farmhouse Cheddar for a study in contrast. It’s an old-fashioned partnership, part of the traditional ploughman’s lunch, which is still popular in Great Britain.

Jason Davis

This pairing proved to be the most divisive of the three offered. Some in the class found it extremely successful; others felt the strength of the IPA overwhelmed this particular cheese, which could have used a little extra salt.

The salt was found in the Coombe Castle Royal Blue Stilton, the last cheese of the class. Davis had presented it to go with the Old Bat Rastard, a winter warmer that’s full-bodied and slightly bitter. It had a little funky flavor that helped it cozy up to the funkiness of the blue cheese.

Three beers, three cheeses. It was a savory start to a whole new world of pairings. What next? What beer goes with Gruyère?  Or Parmesan? What cheeses goes with amber ale? Sounds like meaningful research to me.

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One Response to “Pairing Beer and Cheese”

  1. Randy says:


    ‘Tis sure we’ll be wearing the green,
    When the calendar says March seventeen,
    We’ll be happy when in us,
    Are pints of black Guinness,
    Just try some, you’ll know what we mean.