The best beers to drink with cheese: taste tested
When it comes to matching ales with food, there’s no better partner than cheese, says beer expert Mark Dredge. Read on for Mark’s beer and cheese matching tips, and his pick of the best options to drink alongside different style of cheese, plus all-rounders to enjoy with a festive cheeseboard…
One of the best things to pair with beer is cheese, and that’s because of beer’s great variety of flavours and drinking characteristics. Sweet malts often taste like bread or toast, and we know that’s a complementary flavour with cheese. Light, crisp, bright beers gently match the soft creaminess of fresh cheeses, while darker, stronger beers compare to the salty intensity of aged and blue cheeses. Fruity hop flavour finds the natural fruitiness in cheese (in the same way that grapes or chutney work with it) and beer’s carbonation and bitterness cut through cheese’s fat content.
Cheese gives us some of the simplest food pairings too: bitter and a ploughman’s, IPA with mac and cheese, pilsner and a margherita pizza, cherry beer and cheesecake. When the cheeses come out over the festive period, make sure you’ve got some good beers ready to drink alongside them.
The best beers to drink with cheese
Below are great selections for different types of cheese. If you want one beer to match a variety of cheeses on a cheeseboard, choose a strong one with full textures, such as a hoppy, hazy double IPA, a malty-sweet barley wine or a rich, roasty imperial stout.
IPA and cheddar is a brilliant beer and cheese combo. The Kernel uses different hops in each of its IPA recipes, all with fruity citrus, toasty malt depth and a firm bitterness to match cheddar’s savoury, fruity tang. Available from The Kernel Brewery (£3.80 for 330ml).
A great cheeseboard all-rounder, this strong ale is malty and sweet with toffee and dried fruit flavours, with a bitter marmalade edge. It’s particularly good with creamy blue cheeses, the beer’s sweetness balancing the pungent intensity of the cheese. Available from Waitrose (£2.95 for 500ml).
Belgian blondes like La Chouffe are effervescently refreshing, yet strong and complex, with honey sweetness and peppery spice. It’s a great style with alpine and washed rind cheeses (comté, taleggio, gruyère…) or honey and herbbaked camembert. Available from Sainsbury’s (£2.20 for 330ml).
This dark Belgian monastery ale has flavours of dried fruit, cocoa, caramel, cherry and banana, with a bright herbal bitterness. Try with aged cheeses such as comté, gouda and red leicester, where the beer’s sweeter flavours enhance the cheese’s nuttiness. Available from Tesco (£2.35 for 330ml).
This wonderful fruit beer has a juicy cherry flavour and a lightly tart finish. It’s great paired with cheesecake, ricotta cake or goat’s cheese, especially with a fruity chutney. Or try it with goat’s cheese baked in a tart with onions or beetroot. Available from Waitrose (£3.50 for 375ml).
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