The Murray’s Guide to Beer and Cheese

beer cheese pairing guide

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!

Ultimate Game Day Nachos + MVP Cheese Platter

Nachos are the ultimate DIY game day food. And with the ultimate game day just around the corner, we figured we’d take a moment to discuss the proper way to prepare the dish.

When done right, a good nacho is a veritable frenzy of flavor and texture, everything contrasting and complementing at once. It is crunchy and chewy and creamy and gooey, spicy and roasty and tangy and sweet. And while it’s quite a straightforward dish to make, it’s not as simple as dumping stuff on a tray and sliding it all into the oven.

After all, we’ve all had nachos that amount to less than the sum of their parts. The tortillas turn soggy under too much weight. The meat seems to be there more to tick off a box than to provide texture and taste. The cheese comes shredded from a bag and is mostly reminiscent of wax. There are plenty of potential pratfalls while navigating your way through NachoLand. So we are sharing our recipe to help you find your way. Behold, Murray’s Monger’s Nachos:

murray's best cheese chorizo nachos recipe super bowl party football mexican food

murray's best cheese chorizo nachos recipe super bowl party football mexican food

At the core of this recipe is the selection of cheese and meat. We use wheels of Arzúa-Ulloa and Pawlet, both of which are exceedingly excellent melters and combine for a buttery profile that provides the ideal base on which to build the bold flavors of a proper nacho. And you’ll be getting some of that boldness from La Quercia Nduja—a spicy prosciutto spread—and Palacios Chorizo, a smoky, chewy, dried sausage.

murray's best cheese chorizo nachos recipe super bowl party football mexican food

The technique for making your nachos sturdy and durable is straightforward but essential: you want to build them in layers. A common mistake is laying down all the chips, then plopping on all the toppings. You want build your nachos almost like you would a club sandwich or a lasagna: there should be a couple levels of chips, each layered with cheese, meat, and toppings. That’ll keep the textures, flavors, and proportions balanced throughout. Keep that in mind, and you’ll have your nachos looking like the ones above by following this recipe:

murray's best cheese chorizo nachos recipe super bowl party football mexican food

murray's best cheese chorizo nachos recipe super bowl party football mexican food

Naturally (or shall we say: nachorally), that’s not going to be enough for game day. Your average football game lasts 3 hours and 15 minutes—and this is no average football game. Factor in the pregame broadcast, a glut of commercial time, and the high-production halftime show, and you’re looking at an event in excess of 4 hours. Kitchen expertise—what we’ll call conventional oven wisdom—has established that the primary folly of game day-hosting is frontloading the food offerings. If you prepare everything to be served at kickoff, your food will be fresh for about the first half of the first quarter. That leaves you and your guests snacking on limp, lukewarm food for most of the night.

Instead, you want to get everything set beforehand, and then bring the food out in waves. For example, prep your nachos before the game, and then pop them in the oven at the beginning of the second quarter. They’ll be ready before halftime, and will carry your crowd through to the latter part of the game, at which point it’ll be time to bust out the sweets.

Still, you need to hit them with a solid spread upon arrival, and we’ve designed one for that express purpose. We call it The MVP:

game day sports cheese and meat platter spread board

game day sports cheese and meat platter spread board

That’s 2.5 pounds of cheese and half a pound of premium charcuterie, along with buttery olives and two types of crackers. It easily serves 8-10 people and requires absolutely no prep on your part. It is also best enjoyed at room temperature, meaning you can put it out before your guests arrive and they can return to it throughout the game for periodic pecking.

Between your nachos and your cheese platter, you’ve got a first-rate, sharable feast that will minimize your time in the kitchen and maximize your time enjoying the game. And just like that, no matter who ends up winning, you’ll be sure to come out on top.

Raclette Party Time

There’s nothing quite like a warm blanket in cold weather. We’re not talking about wool or fleece or polyester, though—we’re talking, as we so often are, about cheese. Specifically, we are talking about raclette.

Raclette is a cheese from the western Alps, where the mountains move from Switzerland to France. In the taxonomy of cheese, it is technically Swiss, but it is named for the French word racler, which means “to scrape.”

how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

The origin story goes that cow herders used to bring this then-unnamed cheese with them when leading their cows to high mountain pastures. When they’d set up camp for the night, the herders would place the cheese next to the fire, letting the exposed paste get bubbly and gooey. Once it was perfectly melty, they’d scrape the layer of bubbling cheese over some bread, and then repeat the process. And that, in a nutshell (or rather, in a cheese rind) is how raclette got its name.

Because it is simple, interactive, and undeniably delicious, raclette is quite the popular dish for dinner parties. The most show-stopping melting method is to fasten your wheel of raclette into an industrial raclette machine, which looks a lot like a tanning bed for cheese. While quite the spectacle, these machines are also expensive and unwieldy. You can do just as well with this mini racellete machine or this “partyclette” from our pals at Boska, both of which are completely portable, eminently economical, and incredibly easy to handle.

how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party raclette machine partyclette togo

We’d otherwise take this moment to provide instructions for preparing raclette, but it’s so easy and self-evident that saying “first, melt the cheese…then, scrape the cheese” would be an insult to your intelligence. Instead, let’s talk about what to blanket your raclette over. You’ll obviously want some nice, crusty bread, as that’s the vessel farmers originally used in the high pastures. But raclette’s since come down the mountain, and a proper spread will include an assortment of meats, pickles, and starches. We’ve put together this page to highlight our favorite raclette-able items. Here are a few you won’t want to do without:

Cornichons

cornichons for how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

With their pleasant tartness and snappy crunch, these lil’ gherkins have both the texture and taste to hold up under a pungent sheet of melting curd.

Speck

murray's speck salami for how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

An alpine meat itself, Murray’s Speck brings a simpatico flavor profile for this kind of meal, along with a nice touch of beechwood smoke.

Salami Chub

murray's genoa salami chub for how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

A good chub will have a nice chew, which is just what a bite of raclette calls for. The flavors of white pepper and garlic in this Genoa salami bring out the best in the cheese too.

Dried Apricots

dried apricots for how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

A good raclette has a deep fruitiness, so it makes sense that these dried apricots—which have similarly chewy properties to the salami—work so well with it.

Once you’ve assembled your provisions on your plate, well…you know what to do. This:

how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

how to raclette cheese vegetable recipe party

Happy racletting to you and yours.

Exclusive Recipe: Roasted Carrot, Sprouts, and Goat Cheese Salad

Last week, we featured a burrata recipe that our chef, David Elkins, developed alongside the roll-out of the new made-to-order menu at our West Village shop. This week, we are sharing a recipe that is actually on the menu. Chef David calls it the Roasted and Raw Carrot Salad. Take a gander:

roasted carrot sprouts goat cheese salad recipe

What you’re looking at here are carrots done two ways, along with fresh goat cheese, sunflower seed tapenade, romaine, and sprouts—all dressed in a roasted carrot vinaigrette. Yes, really. We won’t let our blathering get in the way of you in this recipe. So, without further ado, here’s how to make Chef David’s Roasted and Raw Carrot Salad:

roasted carrot sprouts goat cheese salad recipe

If you’re in New York City, swing by our store and pick one up. As always, you can pick up your ingredients there, as well as online. Click on through to check out Westfield Capri Goat CheeseCrown Maple Syrup, Murray’s Wildflower Honey, and this excellent extra virgin olive oil.

Once you make it, @ us with some photos of your on Instagram. Until then, here’s a couple more of ours.

roasted carrot sprouts goat cheese salad recipe

roasted carrot sprouts goat cheese salad recipe

Murray’s Teaches: Whiskey and Cheese Class

In technical terms, Christine Clark is a Certified Cheese Professional. In her own words, she is a “really passionate geek.” This makes her well-qualified to teach classes about cheese, and as the Assistant Manager of Education at Murray’s, that’s exactly what she does.

Every day at our shop on Bleecker Street, Christine and her team lead cheese-centric classes. Examples include Cheese 101, Burrata Making, and Spanish Wine & Cheese. What happens in a class like this? For one, there’s a lot of cheese eating involved. This includes no less than six varieties, often featuring reserve products that are exclusive to Murray’s. And if you’re doing a pairing class, there’s always a beverage to go with each one. That was the case last week, when we teamed up with Bruichladdich Distillery for a special installment of our Whiskey and Cheese series.

whiskey whisky scotch cheese class classes education murray's bruichladdich islay

whiskey whisky scotch cheese class classes education murray's bruichladdich islay

Though we tend to think that the natural pairing partner for cheese comes from grapes, it is just as sensible for your pairing to come from grain. Scotland is the undisputed whiskey capital of the world, and within Scotland, the most legendary region of production is a small island off the west coast called Islay. There are only eight distilleries on Islay, and Bruichladdich is one of them. We were fortunate enough to have one of Bruichladdich’s ambassadors, Jason Cousins, present to co-teach the class with Christine.

As Jason noted up front, the most difficult thing to learn about Scotch is pronunciation. For example, how would you think to say “Bruichladdich” out loud? Broo-ich LAW Ditch? BROKE Ladike? The proper pronunciation is actually rather simple: Brook LADDIE. For a mnemonic device, just remember that a brook is a small river and a laddie is a small boy. And Islay is not pronounced IZ-lay or ICE-law. Rather, it’s AISLE-uh. “After that,” as Jason said, “everything is easy.”

whiskey whisky scotch cheese class classes education murray's bruichladdich islay

Indeed, he was right. Jason gave an overview of whiskey in general and Scotch in particular, and though it was as nuanced as the Scotch itself, it was also just as smooth. He and Christine had met the week beforehand to taste through Bruichladdich’s whiskies and test out pairings for each one. According to Christine, the general rule of thumb when devising pairings is: “One plus one should equal three.” This is not to say she is bad at math, but rather that, when combining the experience of one product with the experience of another, they should create a sensation that is greater than the sum of its parts.

That was certainly the case with the pairings we tasted. We began with the Classic Laddie, Bruichladdich’s flagship expression. It is unpeated and imminently drinkable, and its flavors of apple, melon, and vanilla brought a whole new dimension to Sweet Grass Dairy’s Green Hill, a bloomy rind cheese with a deeply buttery quality.

On the other end of the peat spectrum is Bruichladdich’s Octomore 7.1, which has the distinction of being the peatiest whiskey in the world. What can stand up to such a formidably smoky Scotch? That would be Up in Smoke, an Oregon goat’s milk cheese that is smoked over maple wood and then wrapped in smoked maple leaves. You may think that this would lead to smoky, peaty overkill, but both products are so expertly made, so impressively controlled, that they each brought out new characteristics in the other.

Octomore typically goes for around $170 a bottle, which is one of the reasons we love doing tasting classes—you get to experience products you might not otherwise consider. This is especially true with one of the class’s favorite pairings of the evening: Roomano Extra Aged Gouda and Bruichladdich’s Black Art 5. The Black Art series is Bruichladdich’s most exclusive expression, and the version we tasted had been aged for 24 years. It’s a spirit that is certainly worthy of its $400 price tag. Rich and desserty, it complemented the most aged cheese on the night’s slate, creating what one attendee referred to as the ultimate after-dinner bite.

By the end of class—as is so often the case—most everyone found themselves with a fuller stomach and a brighter brain. There was also a consensus that the ability to notice and enjoy flavor grew as the class progressed, in spite of any well-documented effects that alcohol may have on the palate. This is because our capacity to appreciate something increases the more we know about it. Cheese class makes cheese taste better, plain and simple. It also happens to be a great time—regardless of what you are imbibing.

So, we’d love to have you in our classroom. With nine classes every week, there’s certainly something that’s right up your alley. You can take a look at our schedule to see for yourself. We hope to see you soon!

whiskey whisky scotch cheese class classes education murray's bruichladdich islay