Wine and cheese have long monopolized the market on alcoholic beverage and dairy product pairings, and culinary enthusiasts everywhere enjoy hosting a wine and cheese pairing party to show how the two delicacies can play off each other. Beer, meanwhile, has been relegated to being partnered with wings, pizza, and burgers- all delicious in their own right, but not quite the right foods when you’re trying to serve light hors-d’oeuvres and finger food.
However, at Digital Third Coast, we don’t believe it’s a coincidence that our neighbor state of Wisconsin is the nation’s leading producer of some of the most amazing local brews and cheeses that the country has ever seen. In fact, we take it as a sign that beer and cheese are a match made in heaven (or a match made in Milwaukee, as the case may be).
To that end, we’ve created a guide pairing the best of Wisconsin’s local beers and cheeses for you- plus a few tips on how to pair beer and cheese on your own.
Choose Cheese, Then Beer
Craft beer is much more versatile than cheese, so it makes more sense to choose one or two cheeses first. From there, pick a variety of craft beer styles to enjoy alongside the cheeses.
Purchase Cheese the Day Of
Like so many other wonderful things in this world, cheese tastes best when it’s served fresh. Buy your cheese on the day of the tasting, or the day before at the earliest.
Pair by Intensity
Match the flavor profiles of the beer and cheese. For example, a strong beer (for example, an imperial stout like “Carnal Knowledge in the Wood”) will pair well with a cheddar aged two or more years, such as the one from Land O’Lakes in Weyauwega, Wisconsin. Meanwhile, a goat milk cheese (such as the one produced at LaClare Farms in Malone, Wisconsin) complements a fruit-flavored lambic beer, like the Thumbprint Cran-Bic from New Glarus Brewing Company.
Taste from Lightest to Strongest
You’ll want to gradually work your way up the intensity scale by starting with the lightest cheese and lowest ABV beer, eventually moving on to heavier, more complex pairings.
Serve at the Right Temperature
We’re trained to think that the best temperature for a beer is ice-cold, but in fact, most beer should be served between 40-60 degrees, depending on the type of beer. By serving beer at the appropriate temperature, you highlight its flavor profile. However, make sure to serve cheese only at room temperature.
Don’t Pre-Cut the Cheese
Cutting the cheese before you serve it will cause it to dry out, and the cheese will lose its freshness. Let cutting the cheese be the last thing you do before serving. Also, use different knives for each cheese to avoid mixing any flavors.
No matter where your beer and cheese are from, pairing the two properly is a surefire way to give your friends and family one Gouda time. Sorry, just had to get one cheesy joke in.