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!

Cheese, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Murray’s Guide to Doing it Right

beer!

By John David Ryan, Field Merchandiser and Beer Connoisseur Extraordinaire 

It’s that time of year: Super Bowl season! We’re all talking about things like: what are Russell Wilson’s chances of leading his team to a repeat victory? What will we serve for game day snacks? Who will have the best commercials? Will the halftime show be as terrible as it always is? And what kind of Uggs will Tom Brady be wearing at the post-game press conference? These are important details—I must know!

 Cheddar & IPA

If you’re like the rest of the cool kids, then you probably drink IPAs and talk about how much you appreciate a fresh, hoppy beer with intense notes of citrus and pine. But seriously: it’s hard to beat a well-made India Pale Ale. Known for starting the American craft beer craze, these West Coast originals aren’t necessarily a beginner-friendly beer, but are probably the most widely enjoyed ale. And they’re made for pairing. Try one with a clothbound cheddar. The crumbly, acidic cheese holds its own against the bitter beer.

Beer suggestions: Ithaca Flower Power, Ballast Point Sculpin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute

Gouda & Stout

Gouda is that fun friend who we all want to show up to our party because they make it so much better. Plus, Gouda comes lots of different ways: creamy, smoked, aged, with caraway seeds, etc. I prefer an aged gouda. It’s full of crystals! Delicious, crunchy tyrosine crystals (that’s an amino acid), which typically form within cheeses that have been aged over a year. It’ll be drier, with hints of caramel, salt and butterscotch. For that reason, you need some sweetness to balance it out. Go with a big stout—something with a lot of roasty, chocolate flavors. (Don’t be afraid to add some honey to the equation if you like it really sweet.) Think of it as a boozy chocolate sea salt caramel truffle—your party guests will be amazed.

 Beer Suggestions: Alesmith Speedway, North Coast Old Rasputin, Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

Brie & Belgian Pale Ale

It’s hard not to love a double or triple crème brie. The decadent, buttery paste just melts in your mouth. But you need something with bubbles to help cleanse your palate of all of that goodness. Traditionally, you’d pop open a bottle of champagne—but who brings Moet & Chandon to a football party? Grab a Belgian pale or golden ale—something with a cork and cage on top like champagne. It lets you know that it’s been bottle fermented and will give you lots of bubbles, which is exactly what you want with a creamy cheese like this.

Beer Suggestions: Brooklyn Local 1, Ommegang BPA, Brassiere d’Achouffe La Chouffe

Blue & Barleywine

Blue cheese can be intimidating. Heck: its got blue mold throughout the paste. But it becomes a magical food when you properly pair it. For starters, get a younger, creamier blue like Cambozola Black Label or Chiriboga or even Stilton. Then crack open a barleywine—a big ale with a ton of malty sweetness. You’ll taste toffee, dark fruits, molasses and caramel—but watch out! Because of the amount of grain used in making a barleywine, they’re typically higher in alcohol. So if Uncle Larry has a foul mouth and gets loud after a few brews, maybe steer him away from this one.

Beer Suggestions: Central Waters Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Old Guardian

Alpine & Brown

When I think of paradise, it often involves a herd of cows with bells on their necks, lush pastures, snow-capped mountains, and a smelly shepherd with one of those long, curved sticks…or a beach in the Caribbean. I mean, they’ve got fruity drinks with umbrellas there, but they don’t have Alpine cheeses. Most Alpines are still made by traditional methods and are regulated to insure they are of the highest quality. But when I want a fantastic nutty Alpine cheese, I dream of Comte. I reach for Gruyere. I covet a pound of Appenzeller…and something to wash it down with it. For that, you’ll need a brown ale. Just like Alpine cheeses, brown ales are slightly sweet, nutty, and thoroughly enjoyable by everyone. They are an easy pairing that everyone at your party will love. Then too, if you have leftovers, you can always whip up some fondue!

 Beer Suggestions: Anchor Brekle’s Brown, Bells Best Brown, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

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Beyond the Baguette: How to Pair our Greatest Hits

There’s so much more to enjoy with your cheese beyond crackers and bread. Using our Greatest Hits collection as a jumping-off point, we’re combining salty and sweet, pickled and creamy, and matching pairs by region (what grows together, goes together!). Use this as your indispensable pairing guide this holiday season.

Want to win five Greatest Hits gift collections? Enter our Eat, Drink & #bringmurrays giveaway!

beyond-baguette

What could you pair with Manchego?
We like honey and marcona almonds for a sweet-salty balance.

What could you pair with Gouda?
We like fig jam and fennel salami to play off the caramel nuttiness.

What to pair with Brie?
We like pears, grapes, and nuts for textural contrast.

What could you pair with Gruyere?
We like speck and cornichons. Mmm, salt!

What to pair with Cheddar?
We go classic with apples and tangy chutneys.

 

Pro Tips for Creating the Perfect Holiday Cheese Plate

content_Murrays-Cheese-PlateIt’s entertaining season, and the king of the Murray’s classroom, Dan Belmont, recently shared with Gotham Magazine his top 10 cheese entering tips. Here are some of our go-to’s:

1. Balance is key. 

You don’t want a plate of three different brie-style cheeses, or all blues for that matter. You want to create a progression from mild to intense flavors featuring a variety of cheese styles, origins, and milk types. When selecting each component for your board, remember that texture should be balanced, too.

2. Light-bodied reds go with everything.

Pinot Noir is probably the most versatile food-pairing wine. Try selecting a lighter bodied one from a cool-climate region like Burgundy or New York’s Finger Lakes. A good Pinot will be herbaceous, earthy, and fruity with good acidity. Heavier wines like Barolo or Bordeaux don’t play as well with certain molds.

3. Add something sweet.

Honey will always have a home with Blue cheeses, playing off the sweet and salty combination and its thick texture is luxurious on the palate. Fig jam works with just about anything, while strawberry preserves are a knockout with a nice alpine-style cheese like Comte. Get creative and try a caramel sauce or chocolate for your Goudas, Cheddars, Bries, and even Blues!

Head on over to Gotham Magazine to read Dan’s full list!