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Brew the perfect winter beer cheese pairings
January 2010

As a beer drinking partner, cheese will not let you down.

Beer and cheese are inherent pairs. Many beers and cheeses have similar flavor undertones – think nutty, earthy flavors – that naturally go well together.

For lovers of cheese and beer, it's simply not easy to come up with a poor pairing of the two, since pairing beer and cheese is about combining complementary rather than contrasting flavors.

Of course, not all beer cheese pairings are created equal, and pairing can get a bit tricky during the winter months, when rich, dark, robust and flavorful seasonal beers take over. When combined with flavorful fromage, these brews will keep you warm on even the darkest, coldest nights of the year.

Winter brews are the perfect palette purifier between bites of flavorful, smooth fromage not to mention an invigorating break between cheese samples.

Serve these full-bodied brews closer to room temperature than to ice cold to truly show off their complex flavors and rich barley and wheat undertones.

Saint Albray with an Indian Pale Ale

Pairing the truly robust hops of an IPA or extra bitter ale with the creamy smoothness of Saint Albray cheese is a great choice. Many microbreweries brew strong IPAs for the winter months that provide delicious balance to the creamy, smooth and delicious flavor of St. Albray. Enjoy the deep flavor and fizzy texture of the beer between bites of the smooth, creamy flavor of the St. Albray and you and your guests will be soothed to your core.

Our beer suggestion: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.

Ile de France brie cheese with a deep caramel malt beer

Caramel malts are a popular choice for the winter months because of the rich flavor and hearty texture of the beer. Savoring a strong beer with the delicate smoothness of Ile de France brie is a winning combination because the understated flavors of the brie provide the perfect palette cleanser to the robustness of the beer. Also delicious is the texture contrast between the smooth cheese and intense carbonation of the beer.

Our beer suggestion: Great Divide Hibernation Ale.

Roquefort cheese with imperial stout

Stout is a black ale with coffee flavor undertones that result from the blackened barley used in the brewing process. Pair this truly robust beer with Roquefort and you will have a rich, delicious combination that is perfect to serve after dinner. The richness and sweet undertones of the beer and the intensity of the blue cheese make an interesting and delicious pair to the palette and provide the perfect finishing touch to a delicious and hearty winter meal.

Our beer choice: Stone Imperial Stout.

Ile de France goat cheese with a rich winter lager

Ile de France goat cheese features a tangy bite and an understated yet refined flavor profile. A deep-flavored, malty winter lager provides an excellent companion to this fromage. The slightly salty taste of the goat cheese will make an excellent pair to the richness of the lager as well. Try pairing goat cheese with any lager that boasts fruit undertones, as the sometimes tart taste of the goat cheese is enhanced by slightly sweet flavor hints of beers that feature fruity notes.

Our beer choice: Sam Adams Winter.

While savoring these great cheese and beer pairings, be sure to say A votre santé – French for "cheers."