With the upcoming long weekends there will no doubt be occasions for casual get-togethers with family and friends. Cheesy snacks are some of the easiest and tastiest ways to cater easily for a group. They’re also convenient for picnics and hikes. Pack a picnic basket with crackers and your favourite cheeses and beers, and you won’t need much more for a lazy afternoon outside.
Beer and cheese: the ultimate pairing?
Beer and cheese have a natural affinity. Both are the product of natural ingredients and a period of aging. They also share similar flavours: nutty, tangy, floral, and earthy. When it comes to texture, you’ll find variations from sharp and dry to smooth and creamy. And there are also occasions when the contrast between the two makes for delicious pairing: the sweetness of some beers is an ideal accompaniment to the saltiness of some cheeses. The beer’s tiny bubbles also serve to pierce the fattiness of a good chunk of cheese.
You’ll find that most beers pair pleasantly with most cheeses. As always the case with most food and beer pairings, it’s ultimately based on individual perception. The possible variations are endless, so this guide should be seen as a starting point. We’d love to hear what you tried and enjoyed in the comments below!
Look for common characteristics in flavour and texture in both the beer and the cheese. Ultimately it’s about finding some type of balance between the two elements.
Cheeses can be very versatile. You’ll find that one cheese can pair really well with many different beers, each pairing bringing out a new flavour sensation.
To get the most out of the different strengths of beer and cheese we suggest you start by focusing on intensity. Match cheeses and beers of similar flavour intensity to allow them to balance one another.
Tried and tested combinations
Here are our top picks for your easy weekend social snacking. Accompany them with crackers, home-made bread and a selection of fresh and preserved fruits.
Fresh, bloomy cheeses.
Cheeses like brie, chèvre, feta, mozzarella are light and tangy in flavour with fruity and floral notes. Soft, creamy and sometimes gooey, they work well with more delicate beers.
As you get to riper versions of these cheeses, move on to heavier beers. Saison works well with these, especially with its earthy, spicy notes which complement those of the cheese.
- Pilsner e.g. Hansa Pilsner, Pilsner Urquell
- Lager e.g. Castle Lager
Aged, hard cheeses
Mature cheddars and Goudas’ concentrated flavours require robust, bold beers. Their nutty and fruity flavours can find similar echoes in your beer. Sharp cheddar makes a great match for English Bitter. Saisons do well with mature Gouda, providing a fruity contrast while matching intensity.
- IPA with their fruity hop flavours and high bitterness.
- English Bitters
- Brown ale
Blue cheese is generally strong, with big vivid flavours across the spectrum from salty, sweet, tangy, and piquant. This needs a weighty beer such as a rich, roasty stout or, to contrast, a toffee-topped English barley wine. Pair your stinky stilton with barley wine for a contrasting sweet-savoury experience.
- IPA and hoppy beers
- Barley wine
Why not host a beer and cheese pairing event along the lines of a beer tasting gathering?
Let us know how these pairings go for you, and whether you discovered any new beer and cheese pairing gems. Share your finds in the comments below.