Alberta Beer & Cheese: “Crafty” Pairings

By AMA Staff

Want to get more out of your next sip of beer? Pairing it with the right cheese can magically enhance the flavour and oftentimes mellow out any harshness in the beer.

That’s right—move over wine, beer is cheese’s new best friend. We brought in our Backyard BBQ pals, Alberta Milk and Alley Kat Brewing Company, to help us make some Alberta beer and cheese pairings that are sure to please.

TIPS FOR BEER AND CHEESE PAIRINGS 
Here are a few things to keep in mind to get the most out of your pairing adventure:

Allow your cheese to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before digging in. This allows the flavours to come out (like how you might decant a wine). If you are tasting any dark beers, take them out at the same time; light beers should be kept cold.

Choose flavours that complement each other. Keep mild cheeses with lighter beers and save those aged and blue cheeses for more complex brews.

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The order of your tasting is important. Start with the mildest flavours and build up to the bolder ones. Bold flavours can prevent your taste buds from picking up on the delicate flavours of something like brie.

When you’re ready to start sampling, taste the beer first, then the cheese. While the cheese is still in your mouth, try the beer again. Notice the flavours at each stage and how they change when the two are brought together in (hopefully) perfect harmony.

BREW UP GREAT PAIRINGS 
We’ve put together these perfect pairings of beer and cheese—all made right here in Alberta!

1. White beers, wheat ales, and witbiers pair well with creamy, earthy or fruity cheeses with nutty undertones. A mild to medium, semi-soft washed-rind cheese like brie or camembert is ideal. Try pairing Bebe Lune Canadian Style Brie from Vermillion’s Old School Cheesery with Aprikat Apricot Ale

2. Blonde ales and pilsners pair well with fresh or young cheeses with a soft to semi-soft, creamy texture, mild aroma, and a little saltiness—think fresh mozzarella or cheese curds. Try pairing Cheddar Curds from Crystal Springs Cheese in Lethbridge with Scona Gold Kölsch.

3. With brown, amber or red ales, and Oktoberfest lagers, you want to look for crowd pleasers. Mild to medium-strong cheeses with nutty or sweet grass flavours and aromas, which can often be found in mild goudas or Havarti, are a good choice. Pair Red Deer’s Sylvan Star Klondyk Medium Swiss with Buena Vista Brown Ale.

4. When it comes to pale ales, look for cheese with more natural sweetness, a deeper nuttiness and earthiness from natural aging, or more pronounced savouriness from spices or peppercorns. You can’t go wrong with old cheddars, aged goudas and raclettes. With the Full Moon Pale Ale, try a Raclette from Edmonton’s The Cheese Factory.

5. Stouts, porters and bocks pair well with a cheese that has caramel, nutty and buttery notes; something with a creamy texture but without an assertive flavour. If you have a smoked or blue cheese, this is the beer to pair with it. Try the Applewood Smoked Cheddar from The Old School Cheesery in Vermillion with the Black is Beautiful Light Stout.

6. IPA’s, imperials and imperial stouts need an equally bold cheese with character. A long aging process and high cream content will allow the cheese to take on the robust attributes of the beer. Think old cheddar, parmesan or even feta cheese. Pair Old Grizzly Gouda from Sylvan Star in Red Deer with Olde Deuteronomy Barley Wine.

If you’re inspired to make your own pairings of Alberta beer and Canadian cheeses, download our handy pairing guide. And please remember to drink responsibly!