Rob McFerren: Pair cheese with craft beer for a flavorful experience

Craft beer and cheese can make for an amazing food and drink pairing.

With 70-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. The carbonation will also 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 across the world producing some great cheese. Here are some tried-and-true beer and cheese pairings for you to try.

Aged cheddars will pair nicely with hoppy, West-Coast-style India pale ales. These cheddars will also pair with some dark beers such as stout or porter.

The rich protein flavors of the aged cheddar are complemented by the intensity of the hops in 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 Stilton. 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 are amazing 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 just too many possible pairings to list with many new combinations yet to try, and these popular cheeses are a great starting point.

It’s fun to experiment. Try some different styles of craft beer with cheese and have a pairing party with some friends, and I’m sure you will love it.

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

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