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Beer and Cheese - A match made in heaven

Posted on December 16, 2016

Cheese and beer are two delicious ingredients, but are often not sampled together. Even when they are, it’s likely that not much thought is given to matching the flavours, accents and aromas in this underappreciated partnership, to elevate the enjoyment of both.

From the nutty, caramel aromas found in both aged cheese and stouts to the relationship of rich barley to our favourite blues, there is an amazing variety of mouth-watering combinations to discover.

A few basic guidelines, in terms of which flavours complement each other, can help guide your choices.

The key thing to remember, though, is it’s more about intensity than flavour.

Even if the flavours of both beer and cheese match perfectly, if one is more intense than the other – a dark, plummy bitter with a light fruit salad, for example – then the less intense will be drowned out.

Here, our resident dairy expert Katy Fenwick and Claire Monk, head brewer of the neighbouring Welbeck Abbey Brewery, share their top tips and perfect pairings:

Light cheeses

Fresh, light, tangy cheeses pair really well with clean, light beers like pilsners or German wheatbeers which often have a citrussy note and lively carbonation, which help to cut through the tartness of the cheese and refresh the palate.

Cotherstone, a moist and crumbly cow’s cheese from County Durham, is lemony, lactic and slightly yeasty. It pairs perfectly with Welbeck’s hoppy Henrietta golden ale, which balances the citrus and grassy nose from Cascade and Hallertaur Brewer’s Gold hops with the intense bitterness from their Challenger counterparts.

Aged or Nutty Cheeses

Well-aged, firm cheeses like Cheddar, Gouda or Emmenthal often ooze with caramel and nutty notes, which pair perfectly with malty beers which contain similar characteristics.

Welbeck’s Cavendish, a gorgeous blonde beer which balances the fresh zing of Cascade hops with high strength Maris Otter, is the perfect counterfoil to Berkswell a rich, sweet, fruity, nutty cheese from the West Midlands.

Creamy or Pungent Cheeses

It takes a big-flavoured beer to stand-up to the bold and distinctive flavours of softer, creamy goat’s cheeses or Camembert.

The dark, smoky liquorice and toffee notes of Welbeck’s Portland Black stand-up perfectly to cheeses which are strong on the palette and on the nose. This rich, smooth dark beer packs all the punch of a traditional porter, but without the weight.

Blue Cheeses

Arguably the most famous of all blue-veined cheeses, Stilton has Protected Designation of Origin status, meaning it can be described and marketed in that way only if it has originated from parts of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

Like pungent cheeses, it takes a big beer to stand up to the creaminess, richness and tanginess of blue cheeses like Colston Bassett Stilton.

Lady A is one of Welbeck’s limited edition beers, brewed using specialist yeast and malts, then matured in red wine barrels underneath the Abbey.

Initially fruity, with distinctive notes of raisin and plum, its intensely rich oaked wine flavour is the perfect foil to tangy cheeses which have blue mould running through their veins.

If you want to try these flavour pairings for yourself, Katy and Claire run regular cheese and beer tasting session at the school.

Delegates will get to sample a wide selection of artisan cheeses from across the British Isles and pair them with a range of hand-crafted beers from the Welbeck Abbey Brewery.

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