Rob McFerren: Craft Beer & Cheese

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This week we will look at craft beer and cheese and how perfectly they pair together. With seventy-plus styles of beer to choose from and numerous styles of cheese, it’s not that hard to find a great match! The bitterness from the hops in beer will contrast nicely with fatty foods such as cheese, and also the carbonation will refresh the palate after taking a bite of cheese. Cheese is an artisanal product as is the production of Craft Beer and there are many new small “farmhouse” cheese producers opening up. Aged cheddars will pair nicely with hoppy, west-coast-style India Pale ales and also some dark beers such as Stout or Porter. The rich protein flavors of the aged cheddar are complimented by the intensity of the hops of an IPA and the roasted chocolate malt flavors of a Stout or Porter.

Stouts, Porters, and Brown ales will also pair nicely with Blue cheese, Gorgonzola, and Stiltons. The rich, intense flavor and strong aromatics of these cheeses need the big, bold roasted flavors of these dark beers to stand up to them.

Goat’s milk cheese, or chevre are very buttery yet acidic and tangy in taste. These full-flavored cheeses will pair well with the spicy aromatics of a Bavarian-style Hefeweizen and its complex wheat beer flavors that the German yeast produces.

Swiss cheese, or Emmental-style cheese, is an elegant mild cheese with a sweet, nutty flavor and will pair well with the fruitiness of a nice Farmhouse Ale. There are really just too many possible pairings to list with many new combinations yet to try but these popular cheeses are a starting point. We have done Craft Beer and artisanal cheese pairings here at the brewery with Vagabond Cheese Company which is a great experience and we will do more in the future. It’s fun to experiment so try some with different styles of Craft Beer with cheese and I’m sure you will love it! Cheers!

Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.

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