Pairing Cheese & Beer: How It Works

If asked to fill in the blank for “cheese and ___ pairing,” what is the first word that pops into your mind? My guess would be wine … and there is nothing wrong with that! Pairing cheese with wine has been happening for centuries.

Cheese and wine pairings are great, but why not try something different: pairing cheese with beer! If you think about it, beer is a lot like wine. There are many different styles of beer out there, all offering up different aromas and flavors that will match up to cheese.

It’s the perfect time to give a cheese and beer pairing a try! This week all Bombers (22 ounces in size and larger) are 22% off. But before we get to pairing cheese and beer together, let’s look at the term “bomber.”

What is a Bomber?

The term bomber probably conjures up images of military war planes, not a tall, frosty bottle of beer. A bomber is a bottle of beer that is 22 ounces in size or larger. (There is a debate on if a bomber is only 22 ounces in size, or 22 ounces and larger, but we can save that for another post!)

Where the term originated is somewhat of a mystery. The common belief is that the American term bomber derives from the English term bumper. In 17th century England, bumper referred to a glass filled to the brim, or a large bottle of beer or wine. Today, bumper refers to a beer that is larger than a normal serving, which is typically 12 ounces.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the cheese!

Four Easy Beer and Cheese Matching Tips

There are four simple tips you can follow when selecting your cheese to make the process much easier and less stressful.

1. Select the Cheese First

For as many craft beers available (in bomber size), it seems that there are just as many, if not more types of cheeses available. Stop by our Cheese Department and ask one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members for some help. They can give you insight on the different types of cheese available and what flavor profiles to expect.

2. Look for Common Characteristics

You’re looking for flavors and textures that complement each other, much like in your craft beer. An example would be the light, bright flavors of goat cheese compliment the same flavors in a Pilsner. In the end, the most important thing you want to achieve is balance.

3. Select Only A Couple Cheeses

You don’t want to overwhelm your palate, so keeping your cheese options to a minimum is best. Many different beers can pair with the same cheese. By pairing a few different beers with the same cheese (or two), you’ll be able to experience different qualities in each cheese and beer.

4. Order is Important

When tasting beer, you want to start with the lightest texture and lowest alcohol and move up to the heaviest texture and highest alcohol. The same applies to cheese. So, if you’re doing two beer/cheese pairings, start with the lighter one first.

Cheese & Beer Matches

Now we’ll take a brief look at general styles of cheese, and the different types of beer they’ll pair with.

Fresh and Light Cheeses

Goat cheeses, like a simple Chevre, mozzarella and burrata pair really well with wheat beer, Pilsner, Lager and Saison style beers.

Nutty, Aged Cheeses

Aged Gouda and Manchego pair really well with American brown ale or porter style beer. Cheddars will pair well with bitter American style IPA beer.

Creamy or Funky Cheeses

Washed rind, creamy cheeses like Epoisses or Red Hawk from Cow Girl Creamery pair well with Double IPA or Imperial IPA style beers.

Blue Cheese

This type of cheese tends to pair well with IPA and Pale Ale style beers. Other adventurous options include Barleywine and Imperial Stout style beers.

As with any other type of pairing, it is important to remember that these are just guidelines, not set rules, on how to pair cheese and beer. I always like saying “eat and drink what you like.”

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