How to Pair Cheese and Beer

Wine may be your first thought when it comes to pairing cheese, but we'd argue some cheeses are almost destined to be served with beer! Today our Perfect Pairings series continues with Saxelby's guide to pairing cheese and beer.

How to pair beer and cheese

As with all pairings, it's important to let your cheese come to room temperature for an hour or more, to fully unlock its flavor and aroma. This is especially the case with beer, since a cold drink already dulls your tastebuds. 

If you're not sure where to start, consider a beer or cheese style's origin and remember the old saying, "what grows together goes together." In some cases it's about a shared terroir, but it really comes down to shared references within a region's food and drink. A pungent blue cheese made in the style of an English Stilton holds up well to a pub's house porter. A delicate fresh mozzarella makes more sense with the light, crisp lagers drunk in Italy.

Lastly, pay attention to a beer's alcohol content. Generally speaking, butterfat-rich cheeses like triple creams stand up well to high ABV beers. Leaner cheeses are a better bet for lighter beers.

Try these beer and cheese pairings!

🍺 IPA: The hoppy bite of an India Pale Ale doesn't always play easily with others, so it's best to let it take the lead. Accentuate the vegetal vibes with a moderately salty and savory cheese like Shelburne Cheddar, or a bright gouda style such as Finger Lakes Gold.

🍺 Lager and pilsner: Ah, the misunderstood Champagne of beers! Light and crisp lagers pair well with the same kind of cheeses as Champagne: buttery bloomy styles such as Noble Road and Cowles.

🍺 Sour and saison: Contrast the fruity and lactic tartness of these beers with a bark-wrapped cheese full of smoky, meaty, and mushroomy notes such as Harbison.

🍺 Stout and porter: Sturdy stouts and porters shine with a fudgy blue cheese like Bayley Hazen Blue. Let the cheese slowly dissolve in your mouth as you sip—the texture is unreal! Also try rich bloomy rind cheeses spiked with cream like Kunik.

🍺 Belgian: Less a single style than a regional character, Belgian beers tend to be complex and full-flavored. Play up the Flemish connection with a quality caramelly gouda, or try a rustic and grassy tomme such as Appalachian.

🍺 Brown and red ale: Embrace the nutty, subtly sweet notes of brown and red ales with a mellow, savory, and firm cheese like Wischago or an Alpine style such as Spring Brook Tarentaise.

More perfect pairings: See our guides to pairing cheese with wine, cider, whiskey, charcuterie, and chocolate!


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