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Cheese and beer: Finding the right combination

Cheese and beer: Finding the right combination

Beer and cheese may not seem a traditional pairing to some, but in Wisconsin it makes a ton of sense. Cheesemakers have suggested pairings with their cheeses, and local restaurants offer some suggestions with what’s on their menu.

Swiss mix

One of Bruce Workman’s signature cheeses is his Emmentaler Swiss – a nutty cow’s milk cheese made into 180-pound wheels. Workman likes to pair it with Louie’s Demise, an amber ale from Milwaukee Brewing Co., but also a couple from his Green County backyard.

“It’s a nice beer that goes well with it,” he said of the Louie’s Demise, “and so does New Glarus Brewing’s Back 40 Bock. Even their Blacktop goes well with it.”

One for the Cow

Maple Leaf Cheese in Monroe has pairing suggestions, too, including one that would answer a question for many Wisconsinites: What goes with Spotted Cow?

Maple Leaf staff suggests the Havarti from Edelweiss Creamery, with which it has a marketing partnership, to go with New Glarus Brewing Co.’s signature beer.

Maple Leaf staff also likes to pair its English Hollow Cheddar with Sand Creek Brewing Co.’s Oscar’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, its Gouda with Ale Asylum’s Mad Town Nut Brown and its Fontina with Capital Brewery’s Capital Pilsner.

‘A perfect pairing’

The beers at Brasserie V might be Belgian, but they go just fine with Wisconsin cheeses.

The Monroe Street restaurant has a popular cheese board, and chef/co-owner Matt Van Nest says the majority of people who order cheese order beer to go with it. One of his favorites is Rodenbach's sour red ale with Hook's 10-year Cheddar.

“That’s a perfect pairing in my book,” he said. “Belgian beer in general goes so well with cheese because it’s a little sweeter, a little higher in alcohol, cheese has a tendency to tame the beer a little bit but then the beer has a tendency to enhance the cheese. It’s a pretty cool combination.”

Van Nest also likes to pair St. Bernardus abt 12, a dark, malty “Quadrupel” style beer with a high alcohol content, with Pleasant Ridge Reserve.

That’s also a combination suggested by author Janet Fletcher in her book, “Cheese and Beer.”

Tasty experiment

Kevin Rickli, chef at Next Door Brewing on the Near East Side, says the staff there is still experimenting with combinations at the brewpub that opened in August.

There is a daily cheese board with suggested pairings for the Next Door beers.

Rickli likes to pair Next Door’s Sevex, which the brewery refers to as its “stock ale,” with Montforte Gorgonzola from the Wisconsin Farmers Union Specialty Cheese Co.

“It’s a much softer Gorgonzola than others I’ve tried before,” he said of the cheese that is made in Grant County. “That creamy texture and the nice fat content on that really pairs well with the front-end hops of the Sevex. It’s a three-tier effect — you get the cheese and then the beer and then the cheese comes back again.”

One for the ages

Hook’s 15-year Cheddar is about to make its annual debut on Friday, and Fromagination has a suggestion of what to pair with it: New Glarus’ Apple Ale. The Capital Square cheese shop also sells wine and beer, and has a variety of pairings that the staff suggests that include: Wisconsinite Weiss beer from Lakefront Brewery with Uplands’ Pleasant Ridge Reserve; New Glarus’ Back 40 Bock with Holland’s Family Farm Plain Gouda; New Holland Brewing Co.’s Brown Ale with Roelli’s Red Rock cheese; Ale Asylum’s Hopalicious paired with Alemar Bent River Camembert; New Glarus’ Edel Pils with Capri Cheese Feta; and Tyranena’s Chief BlackHawk Porter with Hook’s Ewe Calf to Be Kidding.

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