The matching snack for a pint of beer traditionally takes the form of something salty in a bag - be that crisps, nuts or even (for the really traditional) pork scratchings. However, this summer we’ll be adding a continental twist to our beer drinking by matching premium beers with tasty cheese. Just like having cheese with wine, a complementary cheese can bring out the depth and subtle flavours of beer, and equally, a refreshingly bitter beer can cut through the cloying texture of some creamy cheeses like stilton.
We've picked out some recommended beer and cheese pairings if you fancy giving it a go…
Meantime India Pale Ale with Neal’s Yard Dairy Isle of Mull Cheddar (or any mature cheddar)
A great example of how complementary flavours in a cheese and a beer can work together. In this case, the bitterness of the hop in a good IPA and the bitterness of the cheese will work together and lift each other, drawing attention to the depth of flavour in each. The IPA’s floral and citrus flavours will also work well with a really strong cheddar.
Brasserie Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles with Neal’s Yard Dairy Glebe Brethan (or any Gruyere)
This is primarily about a 'mouthfeel': the way that the combination of the gentle carbonation of the beer will bring out different textures and flavours in a cheese when they are enjoyed together. In this case, the effervescence of the beer changes the taste of the cheese on the palate: the citrus character of the wheat beer will complement the nuttiness of a Gruyere-style cheese, while the textures will bring out the 'buttery-ness' of the cheese.
Brothers Pear Cider with Neal’s Yard Dairy Stinking Bishop
The rind of Stinking Bishop is washed with Perry (or pear cider), which is what gives the cheese its distinctive smell – and its name, as the Perry itself is made from the Stinking Bishop pear variety. The ideal pairing then is bound to be … you guessed it … a pear cider. The sweetness in the cider will bring out the flavour of the cheese – just as eating grapes with cheese might do.
Meantime Raspberry Wheat Beer with Neal’s Yard Dairy Colston Bassett Stilton
A lot of fruit-flavoured beers are sweet and sickly. Meantime’s is unmistakeably fruity, but refreshing and tart. That flavour is perfect to cut through the rich, creaminess of this beautiful stilton, which has a rich, minerally tang and a buttery texture. The cheese is strong and full without being sharp or overpowering: mellow, fruity, deep and savoury. The beer is characteristically similar. A dream team when it comes to beer and cheese. Plus, it's National Stilton Week (15 April to 21 April) this week, so a great time to give this combo a try.
Rodenbach Grand Cru with Raspberry Cheesecake
This Belgian brew delivers a really deep, fruity, but sour (in a good way) flavour. It has a prickly, acidic texture and its finish has been described as almost white wine-like for its depth and complexity. Quite simply, the perfect sour beer that will cut through the richness of a cheesecake and leave your palate refreshed, while at the same time complementing those luscious English berries.
What do you think? Is beer and cheese this summer's must-try food trend? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below...