Beer and Cheese: Ideal Partners

The flavors of beer and cheese — earthy, yeasty, musty, fruity, rich, toasty, floral — jive in a way that wine and cheese cannot. The simple fact is that cheese and beer are ideal partners. Pairing beer with the right cheese shouldn’t be overwhelming … it’s beer and it’s budget-friendly. Chill your beer to 40-45 degrees F and serve in a clear glass to enjoy the color, as well as the carbonation and aroma. Have fun with these pairing suggestions:

Wheat Beer with Goat Cheese

Golden wheat beers are full of high fruity notes and are often light- to medium-bodied, so pairing them with goat cheese brings about balance. Wheat beers also pair nicely with an earthy tomato basil cheese. Add olive bread for a Mediterranean flair.

Pilsner with Short-aged Gouda

As opposed to ales, pilsners, which are lager beers, are traditionally aged longer. The American light beers we all know well (Budweiser, Miller, etc.) are descendants of the German pilsner. Pilsners are typically deep golden in color with a dry, somewhat bitter taste. Choose a cheese with a hint of fruit and sweetness to offset the pilsner's dryness. A bold-flavored cheese could overpower the beer's more delicate flavor. Try a gouda that has been aged fewer than four or five years and serve with honey wheat pretzels.

Stout with Blue Cheese

Stouts (think Guinness or Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale) are dark brown to pitch-black ales. Stouts, which range in taste from very sweet to bone dry, are enormously popular among U.S. craft brewers and drinkers of craft/artisan brews. Pairing a stout with cheese can be tricky — its bitter, cocoa-like flavor can overwhelm even strong cheese. Go with a creamy and pungent soft-ripened cheese such as blue or a seriously sharp cheddar and serve with a hearty whole wheat or rye bread.

BONUS: When you think of alcohol that is good for the heart, your mind goes immediately to wine, right? It’s primarily the ethanol or alcohol that provides these heart benefits. Moderate beer-drinking may increase the good HDL cholesterol and lower the lousy LDL cholesterol. When you enjoy a regular cold beer, you take in good-for-you nutrients including niacin, vitamin B6, folate, riboflavin, magnesium, selenium and silicon.

Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND on Twitter
Regina Ragone, RDN, MS, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND
Susan Mitchell, PhD, RDN, FAND, and Regina Ragone MS, RDN, share the food you love, how to stay fit for life and be fabulous everyday through their Breaking Down Nutrition podcasts, videos, social media and websites Food Fit Fabulous and BreakingDownNutrition.com. Connect with them here and on Twitter.