Colorado is beer heaven. We are fortunate to live in a state that is supporting the craft beer industry exponentially. According to The Beer Institute, Colorado ranked number one in terms of gross beer production. The Great American Beer Festival is coming up the first part of October and has been held here since 1982. It is the premier U.S. beer festival and competition.
With that in mind, we want to advocate for how wonderful beer and cheese go together. The yeasty, fruity, earthy and herbal flavors commonly found in beer are found just as often in cheese, making them perfect pairing partners. Both beer and cheese have a similar origin - grass. Barley is a cereal grass used for making beer, and milk is a by-product of an animal’s diet of grass. As a result, beer and cheese share common characteristics in both aromas and flavors. They naturally complement one another.
Because beer is carbonated, it is a perfect pairing for cheese. The carbonation, CO2, lifts the palate and binds to the aromas in cheese and carries them up through the nose, intensifying the flavors as it literally cleanses the palate. Both cheese and beer use live cultures and bacteria to develop and mature. Both are fermented foods; they rely on these living organisms to change natural sugars into acid or alcohol. Cheese was originally discovered and used as a way to preserve milk; beer was made as a reliable beverage when water sources were undependable. Farmers made cheese when they had an abundance of milk. They brewed beer during the winter, using fall’s harvest, when they couldn’t farm.
The marriage of beer and cheese goes way back. During the middle ages in Belgium and central Europe, monasteries were known for their exceptional beer and cheese – a staple of their daily diets and a source of income. Many monasteries still make artisan cheeses and craft beers using the same recipes and facilities they have used for hundreds of years. Beer and cheese have been traditional farm house fare for centuries as well. The “ploughman’s” lunch is still common throughout England and northern Europe - beer, cheese and cold meat – and is found on pub menus and in lunch pails today. Beer has many of the same nuances that we find in wine, so the pairing is just as compatible though not as common. The earth to palate process is varied and seemingly endless. Each craft beer brewer has their own recipe and technique to make not only each kind, but each batch unique, very similar to cheese.
Any of the cheesemongers at The Truffle Cheese Shop can help you with a selection of cheese that will be fun to pair with beer. Many of the craft breweries in Colorado welcome patrons to bring their own food, so an impromptu cheese plate is a delicious activity, a fun way to enjoy food with friends and a nice way to support several local businesses at once.