Some top tips from the experts…
Melissa Cole, beer journalist and author of popular blog Let Me Tell You About Beer helped The British Cheese Board to identify the perfect beer and cheese matches. Melissa says: “Beer is, quite simply, the most natural partner for cheese you could choose, and it’s no accident that Britain has a strong history, not to mention bright future, of artisan brewing and cheese making. Whether you choose the classic combination of a pint of bitter with a Ploughman’s or the sophisticated match of a barley wine with Stilton, the opportunity for epicurean delight from the partnership of beer and cheese is endless”
The Ultimate British Cheese & Beer Pairings
Recommended Beer: Dark Star Sunburst(4.8%) Recommended Cheese: Wensleydale
This fresh & fruity beer, with hints of orange on the nose and a fresh herbal flavour acts as a very pleasant counterpoint to the mild and slightly sweet flavour of the cheese – combining to leave a fresh honey-like aftertaste.
Recommended Beer: Fuller’s Golden Pride (8.5%) Recommended Cheese: Extra Mature Cheddar
This is a classic pairing of two great British institutions, barley wine and cheddar cheese. The sweetness of the Golden Pride against the robust saltiness of this extra mature cheddar works so well.
Recommended Beer: Stinger (4.5%) Recommended Cheese: Cornish Yarg
The fresh meadow smell of the beer projects summer time, and the hints of parsley and grass, combines well with the nutty sweetness of the cheese to offset any excess bitterness in the beer.
Recommended Beer: Bateman’s Victory Ale (6%) Recommended Cheese: Capricorn Goat’s Cheese
This Lincolnshire beer has masses of flavours in it, and the goat’s cheese really stands up well to it. The rich pear and liquorice notes in the beer are complemented by the slightly chalky texture of the cheese, with both parts of the partnership keeping the other in balance to leave a warm aftertaste.
Recommended Beer: Sharp’s Chalky’s Bark (4.5%) Recommended Cheese: White Stilton with cranberries
This beer created in collaboration with chef Rick Stein is unsurprisingly a natural partner for food. Made with fresh ginger it is a spicy little number which is softened by the cheese and ends in an explosion of fruit flavours from both ale and cheese.
Recommended Beer: Worthington White Shield (5.6%) Recommended Cheese: West Country Farmhouse Cheddar
The beer takes centre stage here as the cheese acts as a foil to bring out tiniest hints of cloves with scents of banana; it then ends in an unexpected citrus tang that’s a real taste explosion.
Recommended Beer: Ola Dubh (8%) Recommended Cheese: Blue Stilton
Not one for the fainthearted this is a powerful combination. This deliciously earthy cheese helps the sticky marmite flavours of the beer come out, whilst the beer allows the cheese to become more unctuous and elaborate on the tongue.
Recommended Beer: Brakspear Triple (7.2%) Recommended Cheese: Blue Stilton
Another strong cheese that needs a strong partner but this time with different results. The strength of ‘blue’ flavour & saltiness in this cheese means it can really balance the candyfloss flavour of the beer to create waves of caramelised orange.
Recommended Beer:Grozet (5%) Recommended Cheese: any Brie and Camembert
The fresh gooseberry and bog myrtle flavours in this intensely refreshing beer, combined with its light and bubbly texture, allows the brie to flow across the tongue in a truly refreshing taste combination that seems to scream summer.
Recommended Cider:Peronelle’s Blush (5.4%) Recommended Cheese: White Stilton and Blueberries
A perfect dessert replacement this combination is for the sweet of tooth. The hint of Crème du Mur in the cider combines perfectly with the blueberries in the cheese to make a fruity fiesta in the mouth, whilst the dry appley nature of the cider itself prevents it all from becoming too sickly sweet – recommend you put the cheese on a digestive biscuit to get the full experience.
More Cheese Grommit?
Making cheese yourself isn’t that difficult and even producing a small amount just for your pub could be a great USP for your business. To get you started here are a couple of cheese making suppliers: Moorlands Cheesemaking and The Cheese Making Shop
Become An Expert
Informative as this article might be, if you want to learn from some Master Brewers their take on food and beer pairing then The Beer Academy run regular courses.
Adam Dulye, Executive Chef at the Brewers’ Association has some tips here
MCA‘s Simon Stenning, beer and cider educator Jane Peyton and There’s a Beer For That‘s Neil Gannon, have revealed their top tips. For Peyton, thinking of cider as you would wine – colour, flavour, scent – is an easy way to start pairing it with food.
“With cider, think of it as white wine and that helps in matching, consider the acidity, the tannins and depending on the cider, carbonation – they are the tools to use for matching the food. Don’t feel you have to focus on what would match with the apple flavour. For beer, the texture of the food – oily, delicacy, etc. – should be considered.
If in doubt, match the colour of the food with the colour of the cider/beer. “It is a guideline that wine drinkers use and it works well with beer and cider too.”
Gannon agrees with this advice, “Match the flavour of the beer to the flavour intensity of the food, eg, light foods such as fish go with lighter beers such as wheat beer or lager.”
Tasting the beer and the food before pairing is also a good way to get a match right, as Gannon advises choosing a drink that cuts through, complements or contrasts with the flavour of the food.“But be open minded, experiment and remember there’s no right or wrong answer – if a pairing works for you then it works.”
“Pairing beer and cider with food is an area that could grow substantially.” Stenning pointed out, as consumer interests start to move in favour of the approach.