The combination of nutty, aged cheeses and beer is one of the best (if not the best) beer and cheese pairings according to experts. Aged Gouda and Cheddar pair best with something stronger, though even this varies. For example, a malty brew with a caramel base complements aged Gouda very well, though an IPA with similar tones does too. Parmigiano-Reggiano, with its dense, nutty flavour, works better with a heavy, bitter stout while earthy, sharp Cheddar is balanced out by the bitterness in a full-bodied IPA.
Fresh, lighter cheeses, like a soft Goat cheese, go very well with wheat beers and the citrus notes in saison as well. Goat cheese or chevre’s signature tart flavour is cut right through by the high carbonation in saison while the citrusy notes refresh the palate. Wheat beers and fresh Mozzarella work well too, though a pairing like fresh burrata and fruit beers can be even better – it’s almost like a cheese and berry platter, making it all the more interesting. For creamier cheeses, what you need to consider besides flavour is how to get around the richness, which can get quite overwhelming very fast. Brews with higher acidity and carbonation work best in this case, as they provide relief from the intense creaminess of these cheeses.
When it comes to pairing bold cheeses with beer, many say the bigger the better. If your cheese is funky and creamy, try a brew that’s equally bold, with the right note of bitterness and high carbonation. Most double IPAs should be up to the task, but if you’re not a fan, try a yeasty saison instead – just remember to keep the flavours big so the cheese doesn’t completely overshadow the beer.
Blue cheese works well with an American IPA, which is just bitter enough to combat the cheese’s strong flavour without being too strong or heavy. If you’re a fan of blue cheese paired with honey, however, you may prefer a malty brew with caramel notes to combat the pungent cheese. The flavours of each provide a good contrast and complement each other well.
If you haven’t tried pairing your favourite craft beers with cheeses yet, we definitely recommend you give it a go. And while there are no hard and fast rules, there’s one you should always keep in mind: strive for the right balance of flavours to do right by both the cheese and the beer. You have plenty of cheeses to choose from and, now, more than your fair share of breweries as well.