Beer + Cheese = Love

Julie Levy

I have to say that my love of beer originally sprang from my true, deep, passionate, and obsessive love of food.  In fact it was the sublime pairing of a 1998 J.W. Lees Harvest Ale with the nutty sweetness of a sticky toffee pudding, a traditional English dessert, that changed my life forever.  It was then that I began to appreciate the subtleties in aroma and flavor in beer, something I have always loved about the culinary arts.

For me, cheese and beer go hand in hand.  Both are centuries-old artisanal crafts that  require patience, skill, and love to cultivate.  Dependent on natural resources, both beer and cheese are subject to unique seasonal variations.   Like moths to a flame, cheese and beer connoisseurs alike are drawn to these variations and find it only natural to unite the two.

Lucky for us here in the Teton Valley we have a few great artisan creameries to choose from.  For our most recent tasting we asked Kris Malling of Teton Valley Creamery, located in Driggs, Idaho, for a few samples of cheese to try with our beers.  He introduced us to their Haystack Havarti, Yellowstone (a Fontina inspired cheese) and Sapphire Blue.

We successfully coupled the nutty Yellowstone with our Sweetgrass APA.  They each brought out the sweetness in the other.  The Havarti style Haystack, a milder and creamier version of the Yellowstone, was more difficult to pair.  The Bitch Creek pulled through in the end complimenting the tanginess of the cheese with its piney finish.

Our favorite pairing, however, was the Sapphire Blue with the Black Cauldron Imperial Stout.  The malty richness of the beer complimented the bold blue flavors of the cheese.  Thus creating a beautiful synergy between the two that kept you wanting more.  This was the ideal situation, in my opinion, when it comes to pairing beer with food.

Here are some great beer and cheese pairing tips.

  • Match Textures.  Soft and chalky cheeses, like feta and a mild goat, pair well with the mouth feel of wheat beers.
  • Big Beers go with Big Cheeses.  Like a stout and a blue!  Or a sweet hoppy beer with a pungent washed rind cheese like Kings Peak from Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery out of Eden, Utah and the sweet and smooth Alt-itude from Wildlife Brewing (Victor, Idaho).
  • Pair Regionally.  Have you ever tasted Chimay beer with Chimay cheese?  Neither have I, but it has got to be delicious.  Same goes for English Cheddars and English Ales.

Oh, how rewarding it is to pair a local craft product with another.  Just one more reason we love living, brewing and eating in the Teton Valley.  Watch this space for more beer tastings, pairings and recipes.


Grand Teton Brewing Company
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