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Summer Brews and Curds: Your Go-To Guide

We’ve said it before: Summer is the perfect time to pop open a bottle of your favorite brew and peel open a wheel of cheese while you’re at it. As the midday sun surrenders to a refreshing evening breeze, trade in your indoor wine and cheese party for some beer and cheese out on the porch. Or take a hike and pack a picnic basket stocked with Uinta Brewing Co.’s versatile Trader Session IPA, perfect for pairing with complex cheeses.

According to cheesemonger Steve Jones of Portland’s Cheese Bar, there are a couple of reasons why beer is the perfect cheese accompaniment. First off, it’s bubbly. “The effervescence will keep your palate lively; bubbles can keep scrubbing your palate so you can taste more and longer,” he told The Splendid Table’s Melissa Clark. And secondly, it’s grain-based. “With cheese, obviously the animals eat grains too. I think there is undeniable terroir between those two.”

Not that we really needed much convincing to be sold on this pairing. We already knew that beer and cheese can be the best of friends– it’s simply a matter of knowing who gets along well with whom. So let’s hop to it:

Chèvre with Saisons or Wheat Beers

Herbaceous, pungent goat cheeses are well matched with this spicy farmhouse ale. Serious Eats recommends Humboldt Fog with a full-flavored Ommegang Hannepin: 

Spicy, fruity, and earthy flavors in the beer latch on to the herbaceous, earthy tang of the cheese. And saison is fizzy enough to tackle the gooey fromage.

For a brighter, more delicate chèvre, sip something light, crisp, and citrusy. We’d recommend an Allagash White with Cyprus Grove Fresh Chèvre.

Bloomy Rinds with Pilsners

Refreshing, lightly-hopped Pilsners accentuate the nuanced flavors of bloomy rind cheeses while cutting through the creaminess. Try a frothy Victoria Prima Pils with super-creamy Kaas, or a malty Langunitas Pils with Brie and apples. 

Washed Rind with Sour Beers

If you’re doubting whether it’s really a good idea to pair stinky with sour, here are some words of encouragement. Both washed rinds and sour beers undergo complex fermentation processes that give way to exciting aromas and flavors. When the two align, they’ll take your taste buds on a trip. Plus, there’s no better season than summer to put you in the mood for a little tang. Match meaty with musty by sipping a Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Seizoen Bretta alongside Epoisses.  

Hard & Aged with IPAs

It takes a bold beer to stand up to the concentrated flavor crystals in hard, aged cheeses. Bitter IPAs balance the sweetness and accentuate the nuttiness of aged cheddars and goudas with their hearty dose of hops. Serious Eats recommends sipping Alaskan IPA alongside Montgomery’s Cheddar explaining, 

This complex clothbound English farmhouse cheddar has pronounced grassy and almost musty flavors and lightly tangy, fruity background notes. The intense citrus and tropical fruit flavors of the beer pulls out those fruity notes and counteracts the grass and must. The cheese is intense enough to stand up to all those hops.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a right or wrong pairing — if it tastes good to you, it’s a winner! Have fun. Experiment. Drink beer, eat cheese, it’s summer!

Photo: Craft Beer

Amanda Minoff

Amanda recently graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a degree in English Literature and Art History. She is a reader and writer of fiction and loves cheese that tells a good story.

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