The Tastiest Trifecta: Creative — and Delicious — Beer, Cheese and Burger/Brat Match-Ups

What do you get when you match up the perfect grillable burger or sausage with a special cheese and perfectly suited beer? A flavor sensation that is out of this world, of course!

This week, three Oliver’s Market employee owners from the Meat, Cheese and Wine Departments got together and, using their respective expertise, created four tasty trifectas for you to try.

Of course, all great food begins with great ingredients. Our Oliver’s Own Burger Patties use Oliver’s Choice 100% Angus Beef. Our house-made Bratwurst are made from Niman Ranch Pork. All are prepared fresh daily in our Meat Department and incorporate the highest-quality ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible.

Our Gourmet Cheese Department offers the most comprehensive collection of artisanal cheese and accoutrements in Sonoma County and is staffed by helpful cheese mongers.

Our well curated Beer department was recently voted “Best Craft Beer Selection” by readers of the North Bay Bohemian. Staffed with knowledgeable employees who are ready to assist, we offer a great array of local, national, and international beers and ciders.

Image of three Oliver's employees standing next to each other, holding an award for Best Craft Beer Selection in the North Bay.

From left to right: David Lampi (Cotati Meat Department Assistant Manager), Wade Johnson (Cotati Gourmet Cheese Manager), Justin Bowman (Cotati Wine Department Manager)

The Tasters:

  • David Lampi, Meat Department Assistant Manager, Cotati
  • Wade Johnson, Cheese Department Manager, Cotati
  • Justin Bowman, Wine & Beer Department Manager, Cotati

The Gameplan:

“The goal of each pairing starts with an idea and theory based on previous pairing experience and understanding of flavor affinities,” Wade Johnson explained. “We try it out, take notes, and then discuss. A group is needed for this to make sure palates align. Individual tastes can really vary, but when you get all three to agree, you know you have something.”

Wade also noted that it’s very important to be open to other ideas when first idea does not work, which can happen even when a theory seems very sound.

The Tasting Process:

Is there a right or wrong way to evaluate a food and beverage pairing? “You always taste the beverage first to get a sense of style and structure,” Wade explains. “Next, you taste the dish, then another taste of the beverage, and wait for the finish of the flavors as they come together.”

How do you know if a pairing is successful?  Wade suggests looking at how the flavors mingle and whether they provide a unique and special experience. A successful pairing should elevate all of the individual ingredients to be better together than they are individually.

Challenge Goals:

Wade noted that the goal of this challenge was to showcase and then elevate our classic and proprietary burger patties using cheese and beer. Our house-made Bratwurst was added to the line-up to throw the tasters a curve ball!


  • Oliver’s Own Pork Bratwurst: This was grilled as is, but Bratwurst can also be soaked in beer before grilling
  • Cottonwood Cheddar
  • North Coast Brewing Co. Scrimshaw

The team used the Bratwurst pairing to envision an upscale chili cheese dog concept. With the delicious Brat and tangy cheddar, the malt backbone of the Scrimshaw worked nicely. “The richness of the pork was quickly followed by the crisp refreshing essence of the beer, finishing with a marriage of sweet, salty, and savory notes from the cheese, bratwurst and the malt, leading to a clean, refined, slightly sweet well-rounded finish.”



  • Oliver’s Own Bacon Burger: This burger contains precooked Daly’s bacon, allowing you to grill and enjoy the burgers rare and have the bacon ready to go!
  • Old Witch Alpine Style Cheese
  • Seismic Alluvium Pilsner

The team wanted to create a rich take on the Bacon Swiss burger, so opted for Swiss Alpine cheese, instead of standard Swiss. This option brings a more nutty, richer, brown butter flavor to the profile. They also cooked the burgers in brown butter, to add another upgrade requiring balance from the crisp Pilsner. “The Pilsner brought out the salty notes of the bacon in the burger and the beer brought the nutty and buttery notes of the cheese to light. Altogether, there was perfect balance of all flavor components and a slight hint of hops on the finish reminiscent of fresh cut hay. As if biting into it fresh from the farm it came from.”


  • Oliver’s Own Santa Maria Burger: In the style of famed Santa Maria Tri Tip, this burger is seasoned with Thyme, pepper, garlic, salt, and sugar and ready to grill!
  • Sky Hill Goat Feta
  • 10 Barrel Crush Raspberry Sour

For this pairing, the team riffed on the savory herbs in the burger and paired them with the herbal flavors of feta cheese. For the beverage here, the group tried a couple IPAs, and then moved on to Plan B. When they tried the Sour, it really became a special and perfect pairing. The team was reminded that sometimes there is a real surprise, and you have to put assumptions aside. “A delicate soft dance of Umami, sweet and salty, invigorating the palate. Each part provides a compliment to the previous and sets the stage to the next. The crisp acidity of the plush raspberry sour provides a perfect cleanse on the palate leaving it ready for more. Truly exceptional.”


  • Oliver’s Choice 100% Angus Ground Chuck
  • Treur Organic Truffle Gouda
  • North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin

The team wanted to showcase the quality of Oliver’s plain Ground Chuck, so they opted to use the classic match of red meat and truffle to add richness with a truffle Gouda. “The Superior quality of the Oliver’s Own Ground Chuck held up to the intense flavors of the Treur Organic Truffle Gouda and the Russian Imperial Stout (no small feat). The finish was an explosion of robust flavors including roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and rich malt.”

So there you have it: Inspired pairings and a few great tips on how to approach them. We hope you will be inspired to give one or more of them a try, or created your own perfect Taste Trifectas! The team at Oliver’s is always happy to assist!

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