Pairing: Big cheese & beer
September/October 2014

Cheese Pairing

You can do better than cheddar: At your next beer and cheese pairing, forgo subtlety and try stinky, aged and crazy-flavorful wedges with beers that rise to the challenge.

Cave-aged Gruyere + saison
Gruyere is a Swiss cheese, but a nap in a cave takes it beyond the holey slice you know with more must, earth and tang. An effervescent saison brings life to the bite with a stream of lemon flavors that play up the tang, though the beer’s subtle barnyard notes also nicely complement the cheese’s musty taste.

Robiola + Belgian dark strong ale
Robiola’s creamy like brie, but with a robust, earthy mushroom flavor. A Belgian dark strong ale’s toasted malts mingle effortlessly with the mushroom while the beer’s prune, pear and cherry brighten the heavy, spreadable cheese.

Roquefort Papillon Blue + Russian imperial stout
A mouthful of sharp tang, salt and moldy funk makes this blue cheese a real tongue-grabber. The best beer match counters all that flavor without burying it. A big, roasty, sharply boozy Russian imperial stout is as loud as the cheese, but in a brooding, chocolaty way that brings fullness to the wild, funky flavors. Or, tease out a blue cheese’s greener notes with a grassy IPA.

5-Year Gouda + Belgian witbier
Crisp salt crystals punctuate this aged cheese’s foresty, grassy flavors. A soft, full witbier fluidly adopts the cheese’s sharper tones; the moment the beer’s lemon meets the cheese’s salt crystals is sweet -‘n’-salty magic.

Epoisse + rauchbier
Epoisse isn’t for everyone. It’s a super-salty, pungent soft cheese with a mussel-like flavor and an unusually rancid, stinging nip in the finish. Underscore the saline stink with smoke: A rauchbier’s sturdy campfire notes make a palatable springboard for the cheese’s galvanizing flavors.

Published September/October 2014