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Refreshing beer and cheese

If you were to ask a self-proclaimed foodie what to serve with fine cheese, fine wine would most likely be the answer. And if you were to argue that beer might give wine a run for its money, the foodie might turn pale at the thought of pale ale with precious brie.

But, any way you slice it, beer and cheese are natural complements to each other. The flavors of beer and cheese - earthy, musty, rich, toasty - go together in a way that, in many cases, wine and cheese just can’t match. As with any pairing, of course, be sure that one flavor doesn’t overpower the other.

So where do you start if you want to serve up steins of beer with slivers of cheese? Start with some common sense. A beer that is lighter in body and flavor (such as pilsner or wheat beer) would go well with a mild, mellow cheese; and conversely, a dark, rich ale would hold its own alongside a heavier, more pungent cheese. But a strong beer paired with an intense cheese also can overwhelm the palate. So choose your cheese carefully.

Here are a few hints for those who want to serve cheese and brews side by side: Young, fresh cheeses (like our award-winning goat cheese ) are best with light beers and wheat beers. Try a Belgian "Wittekerke" or a German or US "Weizen". Blue vein, marbled cheese, strong flavored including Bleu d’Auvergne pairs well with two groups. Stronger porters, Imperial stouts, and heavier dark beers, such as "Sierra Nevada Bigfoot" or "Brooklyn Monster" are an excellent choice. The other possibility is sweet beers: cherry "Kriek" or any of the Belgian triples that are high in alcohol content but have a bright fruity crispness. "Chimay triple" does well with high-fat, mild-flavored cheeses, as well as "La Bècasse" or "Mort Subite".

Soft, spreadable cheeses, such as Camembert or Brie , go well with Euro-lagers, pilsners, pale ales, porters and American fruit ales. A Belgian Pilsner like "Stella Artois", an American IPA "HopDevil" or a West Coast IPA like "Green flash". Semi-hard cheeses, such as Emmental and Gruyere go well with extra special bitter beers like double IPAs like "Dreadnaught IPA", doppelbock (double bocks), and strong ales.

Hard cheeses, such as Comte , pair well with strong ale or doppelbock, stout or porter, such as the English: "Samuel Smith's" or "The Famous Taddy Porter".

So enjoy your brews and cheese. Your friends will soon be singing the praises of these refreshing pairings.