Cheesify Your Oktoberfest with These Beer & Cheese Pairings

When the first crisp breezes of autumn are in the air, you know it’s time for Oktoberfest – that boisterous celebration of Bavarian heritage that despite its name falls in mid-September, heralded by clinking steins and the joyous pulse of oompah music.

Marzen, the style of lager traditionally drunk at Oktoberfest, is named for the month of March, when it was produced in compliance with medieval Bavarian law that prohibited brewing during the summer months.

Given that Oktoberfest beers are consumed in full liter increments, it’s no surprise that they are known for supreme drinkability.  But don’t mistake this genre for swill – here are three unique American and German Marzens that make excellent complements to some of the world’s finest cheeses.

Oktoberfest Marzen-style Lager

Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY)

Consider this your warmup round, or appetizer – a light, sweet, floral, thirst-quenching brew that invites savory accompaniments and thus lends itself to a wide range of possible cheese pairings.

  • A golden-hued, light bodied, very balanced and highly quaffable lager
  • Pleasant yeasty and floral aromas accompany a dominant malty sweetness – a perfect complement to equally light bodied, but lemony and tangy soft goat’s milk cheeses
  • It’s so easy to drink this beer, you might forget to move on to the next two if you’re not careful!

Cheese Pairings Humboldt Fog, Chabichou du Poitou, Pico Picandine, Westfield Farm Capri, Bucheron

Humboldt Fog, made by Cypress Grove

2017 Oktoberfest Marzen-style Lager

Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA) & Brauhaus Miltenberger (Miltenberg, Germany)

With this American-German collaboration, Sierra Nevada and Brauhaus Miltenberger offer a brew that packs more punch without sacrificing drinkability.  Its forward hoppiness does well with cheddars and fudgy Alpine style cheeses.

  • Deep, hazy amber tone with aromas of dewy grass and subtle tangerine notes
  • Creamy mouthfeel with a focused citrus-peel bitterness that conditions the taste buds for a rich, nutty and tangy pairing – think American cheddars and Alpine-style cheeses
  • There’s more here to be savored, but don’t mistake this for sipping beer. Drink, eat, repeat!

Pairings5 Spoke Creamery Tumbleweed, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Consider Bardwell Rupert, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Milton Creamery Flory’s Truckle

Pleasant Ridge Reserve, made by Uplands Cheese Company

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Smoked Marzen-style Lager

Brauerei Heller (Bamberg, Germany)

The final selection, from Bavaria’s historic Brauerei Heller, fires on all cylinders, making it a superb accompaniment to strong, buttery blues and sweet fruit preserves.

  • Dark mahogany color, with aromas of smoke and black cherry syrup
  • Light to medium body, with a slightly tart lingering finish, this Marzen nevertheless drinks like a heavier beer due to the intensity of the smoke
  • Time for dessert – sip this bad boy alongside a rich, creamy blue cheese topped with cherries in syrup or preserved walnuts

Pairings:  Chiriboga Blue, Persille de Rambouillet, Cambozola Black Label, Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, Fourme d’Ambert

Persille de Rambouillet

Written by: Tyler Frankenberg, Murray’s Cheese

Netflix and Cheese?

Sometimes, artisan cheeses can come off as ‘snobby’, but we couldn’t agree less! Here at Murray’s, we want everyone to enjoy cheese in whatever whey they want – whether it’s at a fancy dinner party or just snacking on the couch watching Netflix. Cheese is what you make it, to be enjoyed however you like. With this idea in mind, we took some of our favorite artisan cheeses and paired them with snack food – the kinds of things you can find at your corner store or local bodega. No need to get fancy! It just has to taste good! 

Sour Cream & Onion Lays Potato Chips + Montgomery’s Cheddar

There’s something about a bright green bag that makes us want to take it home and break into it. Normally we’d open up some dip and really go to town, but instead, we suggest breaking out a chunk of Montgomery’s Cheddar. This English cheddar isn’t like the ones you’d find outside of the US. Monty is savory and meaty, with notes of chive and baked potato. Both the chips and the cheese are highly snackable – they have that addictive quality that makes you want to nibble mindlessly while marathoning old episodes of Parks & Recreation. So, snack on!

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos + Epoisses

A funky wheel of Epoisses might not be the first thing you think of for a midnight bite, but this bacony, custardy cheese is practically its own dip. If you’re thinking about what to dunk, we suggest a fiery red bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The cheesy heat might leave a red residue all over your fingers, but once it’s covered in gooey, tasty cheese, you won’t even care about the stains. The heat of the crispy cheese puffs cuts through the funk, leaving Epoisses’ spicy, meaty, and surprisingly creamy flavors to dazzle in its wake.

Original Cherry Pop Rocks + Valencay

We owe this pair to one of our expert mongers over at Murray’s Cheese Bar! Valencay is a French classic that comes from the Loire Valley – the goat cheese capital of the world. It has a storied history, and was said to even have had a run in with Napoleon, who chopped off the pyramid-shaped cheese’s top out of frustration after a battle gone awry. But don’t let that intimidate you – it makes a seriously great snack with a candy you probably haven’t had since you were a kid: Pop Rocks! You know how we recommend champagne and bubblies with soft cheeses goat’s milk cheeses? This is the candy equivalent. It sounds crazy, but there’s something about these fruity cherry popping candies that pairs perfectly with tangy, minerally Valencay.

Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies + Persille de Rambouillet

One of our cheesemongers likes to compare Persille to vanilla birthday cake, and she’s not wrong. There’s something sweet and creamy about this goat’s milk blue that makes it unlike any other we’ve tasted. To pair this cheese with chocolate would be obvious, but we want to take it a step further. Spreading a little bit of blue cheese on top of a chocolate chip cookie might seem a little bit odd. But trust us, it’s worth it. It’s the dessert you’d never think of, but you’ll realize just how perfect it is when enjoyed with a glass of wine while lounging around.

Chocolate & Cheese: The Perfect Pair for V-Day

Valentine’s Day is soon (read: two weeks!), so now’s as good a time as any to start thinking about your V-Day plans. Maybe you’ve got romantic plans out, or maybe you’re having a sweet night in, but we know there should be one thing involved: chocolate. Being cheesy experts ourselves, we think cheese goes with everything, and chocolate is no exception. While you might not think these sweet and savory delights go together, we’re here to prove you wrong. 

Roomano & Raaka Bourbon Cask Bar

Something about this decadent, aged Gouda just begs for something sweet. Its notes of caramel and sweet-salty butterscotch usually are paired with a nice glass of scotch and whiskey, but if you’re looking to add a little sweetness, the Raaka Bourbon Cask bar is the way to go. The dark virgin chocolate is enhanced with the flavors of aged bourbon, with bright notes of spicy rye, vanilla, and caramel. Since we know like goes with like, these two were just meant to be.

Persille de Rambouillet & Murray’s Munchies Milk Chocolate Grahams

Blue cheeses and chocolate always go together – they’re like a couple of high school sweethearts! But Persille de Rambouillet is like the head cheerleader – popular, smooth, and sweet. The Alpine goats milk that goes into this blue creates clean lactic notes, with hints of white pepper and sweet cream. It’s that sweet cream and gentle piquancy that makes the chocolatey crunch of Murray’s milk chocolate covered graham crackers all the more delightful. (Hint: you might even want to spread the cheese directly onto the chocolate chunks. It’ll blow your mind!)

Pleasant Ridge Reserve & Pralus Dark Chocolate Infernal Bar

Summer pasture fed cow’s milk, with hints of floral, fruity flavors, Pleasant Ridge Reserve has those bites of sweetness we love. Like the Alpine cheeses it is inspired by, it goes great with a dark chocolate. We love it with the dark chocolate Infernal bar from Pralus Chocolatier, where the chocolate is fruity and deep and filled with toasty hazelnuts. We’re talking a match made in heaven, if we’re being honest – and it sure is heavenly.

Up in Smoke & Mast Brothers Chocolate Stumptown Coffee Bar

Sultry smokiness paired with roasty coffee – honestly, what can be better? With a ball of fresh goat’s milk cheese wrapped in maple leaves and then smoked, there’s a deep, campfire-y richness and clean minerality that reminds us of smelling cooking bacon in the morning, but sweet. Add your cup of coffee or make it a mocha with the chocolate bar from Mast blended with freshly roasted coffee beans, and this is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Our taste buds have heart eyes.