Cheese and beer as a couple back on the A list. It is not new to enjoy cheese with beer, we just got side-tracked with wine and cheese. The pairing has been around since the invention of both cheese and beer by Neolithic man in about 6000 BC. Ancient cheese and beer may have tasted OK, but its pairing was perfected by medieval monasteries and abbeys many centuries later. Making both gave them the opportunity to wash cheese in beer to make it sticky, stinky and savoury.
Washed rind is the classic beer cheese, but all cheeses can be paired with a beer. Especially now with the explosion of craft beers to choose from. The main reason cheese goes so well with beer is the bitterness of the hops. It can lift and balance the flavour of cheese. Just like adding lemon juice to vinegar to lighten a sauce.
You won’t get this wow moment with all cheese and beer pairings, but with a bit of experimenting you can get a good idea of what works for you. The first rule of cheese and beer pairing is own your taste buds. The second is try each combination at least twice. With those rules, the only other things to think about are:
Beers with strong flavours will over power delicate cheeses and vice versa. Big beers need a cheeses with a full and long lasting flavours. Spicy and salty cheeses such as Berrys Creek Tarwin Blue stands up to an IPA while a mushroomy brie like L’Artisan’s Extravagant pairs well with a pale ale
Balance in flavour and texture, including the alcoholic weight of the beer, identifies a good match. Balance can be achieved through complementary or contrasting flavours and texture. A good example of complementary flavours is a chocolate stout that brings out the nutty and caramel flavours of Section 28’s Monforte. A contrast is the hopsy bubbles of a Belgium style beer that cleanses the savoury creamy flavours of a washed rind, such as Bunya Red.
Anyone can be an expert at beer and cheese pairing. All you need to do is start tasting, be bold, try the unexpected and buck convention. Most of all enjoy the way that beer changes the taste of cheese.