Not only does this give you a more laid back, and often cheaper, combination, but beer may even complement cheese better than wine does. In fact, wine specialist Amelia Singer told Business Insider that the combination of acidity, alcohol and drying tannins means the two will clash, concluding that one will always dry out the other. Beer, on the other hand, has more in common with cheese. For example, both are fermented and stem from the Gramineae, or grass, family, which writer Fred Eckhardt describes as the “common element” between the two.
It’s no surprise then that experts are working to reveal the merits of this delicious duo. In January 2019, a special London craft beer and cheese tasting event was organised by By The Horns Brewing Co and The Cheese Geek, a leading online cheesemonger that specialises in seasonal cheeseboxes often paired with alcoholic beverages. But even as this trend grows in popularity, many eager foodies still aren’t sure how to start matching cheese with beer. Here are a few places to start.
IPA and cheddar
IPAs taste delicious with cheddar, as the bitter hops will cut through the fat in the cheese. However, it’s important to balance the cheese’s sharpness with the hoppiness of your IPA. The IBU scale—International Bitterness Units—measures the parts per million of isohumulone, which is found in hops. Though malts and other flavours can often mask sharper tastes, bitter IPAs will generally have higher IBU numbers. Therefore, an English IPA may be best for medium cheddars, while a very bitter Belgian IPA will pair well with sharper varieties of the cheese.
Hefeweizen and goats cheese
For wine-lovers, goats cheese and a glass of sparkling wine like Prosecco can be a delicious pairing, so follow suit by swapping a glass of fizz for a gentle, bubbly beer like hefeweizen. This is a cloudy, golden, fizzy beer, with a foamy texture and fruity flavours, which makes it very easy to drink. As the flavour can sometimes be overpowering, hefeweizen is often served with a lemon slice, which is why it tastes so good alongside the citrusy tang of a goat’s cheese.
Amber ale and Manchego
Manchego is characterised by its balance of saltiness and sweetness, often acquiring delicate nutty and caramelised flavours as a result. Make this delectable sheep’s cheese even better by washing it down with a malty amber ale. Choose ones with sweet notes like toffee and hazelnut, which will pair beautifully with the cheese, delivering a taste reminiscent of a pecan praline. Treat yourself to some salted nuts on the side to really enhance the effect.
Stout and Stilton
As one of the boldest cheeses on the market, stilton gives you the chance to embrace beers with equally powerful flavours. And what could make more of a statement than a chocolate stout? Blue cheeses are high in salt, as this allows the mould to thrive, and the marriage of the salty-yet-creamy stilton with the sweet stout is to die for. If your cheese is a bit drier or less salty than the norm, balance this with a more bitter stout.
Sour ale and camembert
A pungent but exquisite camembert is best enjoyed with a sour ale. These beers are made with wild bacteria and yeasts, which means they often take months to ferment. Relying on natural components in this way gives rise to a range of styles, and ensures that a sour ale will share camembert’s earthier qualities. As good as it tastes, this combination can create a particularly intense effect, so unite the two parts with a sweet drizzle of natural honey.