Beer & Cheese pairings?
Beer A Better Partner than Wine with Cheeses?
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There are plenty of folks out there who will swear by wine and cheese pairings alone. For many reasons, these two gustatory treats are often exclusively partnered. However, cheese and beer go exceptionally well together, as you can read about in the article that follows (excerpted from an article by Janet Fletcher, Staff Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle—printed February 17th, 2005).
“As a longtime cheese aficionado, The Chronicle’s weekly cheese columnist and a nightly wine drinker, I’ve reluctantly concluded that many cheeses give wine, especially dry wine, a rough time. But after several weeks of “research”, including two marathon tastings, I’m convinced that beer as a partner for cheese rarely stumbles. It takes some knowledge of beer and cheese to engineer the most harmonious marriages, but intolerable mismatches are rare.
“Beer authorities offer several theories for their favorite beverage’s superiority with cheese. For one, argues Mark Todd, a Sonoma County consultant who leads professional workshops on pairing cheese with wine and beer, the two products grew up together, on the farm, with farm women making both. These women would surely have wanted their beer to taste good with their cheese and vice versa. Furthermore, experts say, both beer and cheese are based on grain, although cheese’s link to grain—via the grazing animal—is more attenuated.
“Theories aside, beer excels with cheese because of the harmonies and contrasts the beverage brings to the match.
“‘It’s rare to find wines that echo any flavors in cheese,’ says Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of New York’s Brooklyn Brewery and author of “The Brewmaster’s Table” (HarperCollins, 2003) ‘A nutty aged Gouda might find a complement in sherry,’ he admits, ‘but dry table wines largely lack the nut and caramel aromas found in aged cheeses, aromas plentiful in malty beers like nut- brown ales, stouts and porters.’
“‘With wine, you’re almost always working just with contrasts,’ says Oliver. ‘That’s not as satisfying as also working in some harmonies.’
“Harmonic convergence happens when a sharp, bitter, hoppy India Pale Ale meets a piquant, high-acid cheddar; or when a porter with its caramel and coffee notes encounters a smooth and sweet aged Gruyere.
“But contrast underlies some successful match-ups, too, especially the contrast that carbonation provides. Cheeses are high in fat, often creamy and almost always mouth coating. Beer, by virtue of its carbonation, is brisk and palate cleansing.”
Some Guidelines for Pairing Beer and Cheese
Although you’ll find plenty of matches out there that break the following rules, these guidelines are a good starting point for thinking about beer with cheese.
- Pair delicate beers with young, fresh cheeses.
- Pair malty beers with nutty, aged cheeses.
- Pair highly hopped, bitter beers with tart, sharp cheeses, especially cheddars.
- Pair strong, sweet beers with blue cheeses.
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