Cheese and beer both offer incredible variety. Lagers to lambics, bloomy rinds to blues—the taxonomic kingdom of each is vast. And, of course, beer goes with cheese are a natural duo. But with so many options, how do you go about selecting the proper pairing of each? We put together this guide to answer that very question. Presenting: The Murray’s Guide to Beer & Cheese.
Brie + Belgian Pale Ale
Decadent, buttery cheeses, like double and triple crèmes, call for relatively bubbly brews to cut through the richness. The best beer for that is a Belgian ale, either pale or golden—the kind that comes in a corked bottle that you pop like champagne. The cork signals in-bottle fermentation, which provides the proper effervescence.
Cheddar + IPA
Why do these two work so well together? An IPA is hoppy and bitter, which holds up well alongside the crumbly, acidic properties of a traditional cheddar.
Gouda + Stout
A well-aged gouda has a wonderfully caramelly, butterscotchy quality, and calls for a beer that is just as full-bodied and subtly sweet. That’s the profile of a good stout, with notes of roasted coffee and dark chocolate.
Washed Rind + Trappist Ale
Washed rind cheese was born of Trappist beer, when one day, a monk notice an unwanted color on some cheese he was aging. He dipped a rag in some beer, rubbed it on the wheel, and both removed the coloring and inadvertently developed a new style of cheese. Naturally, one goes quite well with the other.
Alpine + Brown
The profile of an alpine cheese is nutty, roasty, and slightly sweet. That’s the very same profile of a brown ale as well. As one of our pairing principles goes: Like goes with like. It’s no wonder alpine cheese and brown ale is such an excellent match.
Blue + Barleywine
On a cheese plate, blue cheese is often paired with something sweet and fruity: toffee, molasses, caramel, dried stonefruits, etc. In beer form, this manifests as barleywine. It’s an ale with loads of character, anchored by a malty sweetness.
There’s plenty of room in each category to explore nuances and expressions, but so long as you stick with these principles, you can’t go wrong. Happy pairing!