Cheese with Beer
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Cheese with Beer

Beer is a brilliant drink for cheese and a few simple tips can give some superb pairings. The great thing about beer is that it naturally contains sweetness, which works very well with the salty or rich flavours in the cheese.

I am Mark Dredge, a freelance beer writer who writes for a number of British national titles. I work for the Camden Town Brewery and have a well-respected knowledge on craft beers. I am currently working on a new book about pairing foods with beer and have recently finished a chapter on cheese and beer.

There’s a huge range of beer just like there’s a huge range of cheeses. Some beers are pale and delicate, others are dark and heavy, there’s sweet beers, strong beer, bitter beers, sour beers, and each will work well with a different cheese. A simple rule, however, is that stronger, full-bodied beers tend to work best with cheese.

Taste is a subjective thing and everyone is different. The best way to find great matches is simple and fun: just buy a few different cheeses and open a few different beers and just taste them together to see what does and doesn’t work. There’ll always be some surprises in there.

Rembrandt has a big flavour so you need a beer with similar impact and depth. Try a beer with a caramel sweetness that highlights the richness in the cheese. The caramel flavour comes from the malt.

The key is the full depth of sweetness to compliment the big flavour in the cheese.

  • A great match is La Trappe Dubbel a Dutch Trappist beer, that has a depth of caramel, dried fruit and chocolate

Some alternate suggestions are:

  • German Bockbier like Paulaner Salvator
  • An American IPA like Odell IPA
  • A sweet Stout, or a strong British Bitter like Fuller’s ESB

Vincent is an aged Dutch cheese that’s rich and sweet tasting.

Because of the richness in the cheese you want some sweetness to go with it – just like putting fruit or chutney on a cheeseboard and as the cheese is smooth and rich then match that quality with the beer.

  • Go with a dark grain like an Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, with chocolate and coffee flavours. The creaminess from the oats compliment the creaminess from the cheese

Some alternate suggestions are:

  • German wheat beers
  • Hefeweizen like Schneider Weisse
  • Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout
  • Little Creatures Pale Ale

Vermeer has a fruity taste with a full texture, all while containing less fat and less salt than classic Gouda cheese.

The fruity sweetness is similar to modern American styles of beer called Pale Ale and IPA.

  • A delicate American Pal Ale such as 5 Barrel Pale Ale is a great match, this has a caramel sweetness and citrusy aromas from the hops, plus a bitter, refreshing finish

Some alternate suggestions are:

  • Lagunitas IPA
  • A good Belgian Amber ale, like Palm or De Koninck
  • Little Creatures Pale Ale from Australia
  • Belgian Dubbel, like Westmalle or Chimay Red

Frans Hals is an aged goat’s cheese which is full-bodied and luxurious. Its creaminess demands a beer with similar creaminess plus some nice fruitiness to keep it fresh and fun.

By using wheat you get a beer with a richer and fuller body.

  • German wheat beers like Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier have a special yeast strain which is naturally very fruity and you can expect banana, pear, bubble gum and vanilla as aromas, plus some fudgy sweetness in the middle. It might sound like dessert but it also finishes peppery and dry, so it’s got great balance

Some alternate suggestions are:

  • Chocolatey richness of Anchor’s Porter
  • The spicy dryness in a Saison Dupont