Pairing cheese with beer is a delightful task. Both are fermented, offer enormous diversity in styles, and range from nuanced to overtly outgoing.As in any pairing of food and drink, look first for either contrasting or complimentary flavors to bring out the best in both. For example, sweet with sweet, or sweet played off against tart. Either may work, or both.
As in any pairing, if it tastes good to you, it is good. There are no rules about what beers and cheeses must be enjoyed together, so go out and create your own personal pairing commandments.
To help get you started we teamed up with our friends at Jasper Hill Farm, who make divine cheeses of wide-ranging styles, many perfect to pair with our equally diverse beer styles.
A dry, effervescent and palate-cleaning beer such as Brut IPA pairs beautifully with the richness of Alpha Tolman, which has a buttery, fruit & nut flavor when young, developing bold, meaty, caramelized onion flavors as it matures. The texture is dense and pliant, easily portioned and ideal for melting. This Alpine-style cheese works well with the crisp and clean bitterness of Brut IPA.
The perfectly balanced, sweet-tart flavors in Pale Sour are a smooth orchestral background to the vibrancy of Willoughby. This succulent and buttery washed-rind cheese has aromas of peat, roasted beef and onions – a strong and complex front for the subtle milky, herbal, ripe-peach flavors within. Willoughby has a thin, tender, rosy-orange rind, which adds earthy dimension to the texture and flavors of the gooey interior. The dynamic range of flavors presented by Willoughby enjoy their welcome contrast with Pale Sour.
Nirvana is a carefully balanced and delicately dry-hopped IPA – an elegant companion for the richness of Clothbound, which is an approachable but complex natural-rind, bandaged cheddar with a crumbly texture and nutty aroma. The flavor is deeply savory and slightly tangy with caramel sweetness to the finish. The tangy piquancy inherent in Clothbound offsets the crisp and clean bitterness of Nirvana IPA.
Hennepin, our spicy farmhouse saison, finds perfection in pairing with Harbison a soft-ripened cheese with a rustic, bloomy rind. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s inner bark layer, harvested from the woodlands of Jasper Hill. The spoonable texture begins to develop in Jasper Hill Farm’s vaults, though the paste continues to soften on the way to market. Harbison is woodsy and sweet, balanced with lemon, mustard, and vegetal flavors. The richness of this bloomy cheese complements the complex and vibrant Hennepin, with its notes of coriander, ginger, orange peel and grains of paradise.
Abbey Ale’s malty depth, full body, and dark fruit notes riff back and forth with Oma’s pungent and sweet flavors, with aromas of roasted nuts, cured meat and cultured butter. The paste is soft, almost pudding-like, but never runny. The thin, orange rind, often overlaid with white flora, is an earthy foil to the richness of the paste. The indulgent mouthfeel, tender rind, and balanced character make Oma a perfect match for the complexity and richness of Abbey Ale.
Our sessionable, delicious Rare Vos café amber is a canvas for many flavors to paint on. Landaff has a natural rind and a semi-firm paste with subtle aromas of cave and grass. Its balanced complexity harmonizes a bright buttermilk tang and savory brown butter notes. A mild cheese like Landaff will pair well with Rare Vos’s subtle hopping, gentle spicing, and easy drinkability.
Rosetta – and Pale Sour – both offer lovely balance with a touch of sourness and a touch of sweet. Bayley has developed a loyal following because of its fudge-like texture, toasted-nut sweetness, and anise spice character. The paste is dense and creamy, with well-distributed blue veins. The usual peppery character of blue cheese is subdued, giving way to the grassy, nutty flavors in the milk. Try pairing Bayley with the semi-sweetness and pleasing tartness of Rosetta or Pale Sour.
Three Philosophers brings depths of flavor, dark fruit notes, a touch of cherry, and unique complexity to an equally unique cheese. As a young cheese, Winnimere is wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s flexible inner bark layer, harvested from Jasper Hill Farm’s woodlands. During aging, the cheese is washed in a cultured salt brine to help even rind development. At 60 days, this cheese is spoonably soft and tastes of bacon, sweet cream, and spruce. Winnimere is best enjoyed by peeling away a bit of the top rind and diving in with spoon and some friends, and pairs superbly with the dark, malty, and richly layered Three Philosophers.
A refreshing, aromatic beer like our Witte pairs perfectly with the approachable and nuanced Little Hosmer, a lovely brie-style cheese. Beneath its thin, bloomy rind lies a gooey, milky core showing a complex array of flavors at peak ripeness: cauliflower, crème fraîche, and toasted nuts. A bright, clean finish with a hint of white mushroom aroma follows the rich flavors of the paste. The rich saltiness of this brie-like cheese complements the subtle citrus tartness of Witte with its notes of coriander and orange peel.