DOZEN WISCONSIN CHEESE AND BEER PAIRINGS
a good selection of cheese from each category-four to six varieties
of cheese-for a catered event pairing cheese and beer. Or, a vertical
tasting platter might include several examples of a similar style,
such as ripened Brie, Surface-ripened Brick and Gorgonzola.
Mild, bland crackers-water crackers, bread or toast rounds-are the
best accompaniment. In general, start with more subtle cheeses and
light-bodied beer, and progress to the more intense, full-flavored
Mascarpone: A buttery soft spreadable Italian-style cheese, Mascarpone
is sweet, fresh and versatile as an ingredient in desserts, soups,
pastas, polenta, dips and more. Mascarpone cheese, spread on whole-grain
crisp bread and topped with sliced radishes, or dipped onto the tip
of a daikon radish stick, makes a fast bar snack.
Pair Mascarpone with a complex fruity ale, such as a Belgian-style
saison brewed with a bit of wheat malt for tangy flavors to contrast
with the buttery richness of the cheese.
2) Fresh Mozzarella: Ideal for salads, salsas and pasta dishes. Made
from cow's milk, this cheese is packed in water for freshness. It
has a delicate, milky flavor, porcelain white appearance, and springy
of Mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes make a colorful appetizer.
toasty, rich dark lager, brewed with black patent and chocolate malts,
contrasts with the sweet dairy flavors of the fresh Mozzarella.
3) Brie: A creamy, soft-ripened cheese that, when perfectly ripe,
will be spreadable at room temperature. Sold in full wheels, or cut
into wedges. A chalky center indicates an immature Brie. Brie's rich
taste notes are both buttery and woodsy, reminiscent of mushrooms
(especially when tasted with the snow-white, edible rind).
Sample wedges of ripened Brie with other fruits, such as grapes or
figs, to heighten the contrast in flavors.
Cherry ale is a Belgian-style kriek ale (traditionally brewed with
wild yeasts and aged hops) and infused with both delightful color
and bouquet by the addition of fresh, sour cherries. The fruity, sweet
taste of the beer goes well with the ripened Brie.
4) Gorgonzola and Blue: Noted for its distinctive, sharp flavor, Blue
is marbled with streaks of edible blue-green mold. Blue can be soft
and spreadable, or firm and crumbly. Gorgonzola is an Italian-style
veined cheese, with a buttery-yellow, tangy cow's milk base.
Present a platter of rich, veined cheeses with walnuts and pears --
a European tradition.
A robust, yeasty ale in the Trappist brewing style is aged and bottle-conditioned
(extra yeast added just at bottling), so it has a stronger, almost
vinous, flavor that harmonizes with the distinctive mold-ripened cheese
5) Surface-ripened Brick: A Wisconsin original, Brick cheese has a
mild and mellow flavor that becomes more pungent with age. Surface
Ripened Brick is washed with a special smear of cultures to produce
its distinctive taste and aroma. Excellent for table use, cooking
In Wisconsin, grainy hot mustard and sliced onions top an open-faced
sandwich of pumpernickel and surface-ripened Brick -- a tavern favorite.
A pale ale with a hoppy, citric taste balances with the creamy, mellow
taste of Brick.
6) Hot Jalapeno and Habanero Pepper Monterey Jack Cheeses: Wisconsin
cheesemakers add several kinds of hot peppers to heighten the creamy
flavor of Monterey Jack. Terrific as a topper for grilled meats and
rustic sandwiches, Hot Pepper Monterey Jack is easily sliced, shredded
A strong bottle-conditioned ale, brewed as a "winter warmer"
with twice the usual amount of malt and ample dry-hopping, matches
the searing flavors of the hot peppers.
7). Smoked Gouda: The level and intensity of smoky flavor varies by
brand, but all smoked Gouda are a bit firmer and nuttier tasting than
the regular Gouda, which tastes light, buttery and slightly nutty.
Processed smoked Gouda is presented as a spread.
A Bock beer is a malty and very rich flavored lager, brewed as a "warming"
beer for consumption on cold spring days. It has a strong, intensely
toasted flavor that counterbalances the smoky tang of the Gouda.
8) Gruyère and Aged Swiss: Renowned for its "eyes,"
Swiss is a semi-soft cheese that can become more flavorful and firm
with age. Color ranges from ivory to gold, and will be darker if it
is smoked. Excellent sliced, or grated and melted into sauces. Likewise,
Gruyère is a versatile cheese, most often used in fondues and
toppings, where its nutty, gently fruity flavor is accentuated by
Make the most of the "eyes" in Swiss cheese by skewering
cheese cubes with pretzel sticks -- for a competely edible pick!
A white beer is spiced with coriander, orange peels and other exotic
ingredients unexpected in beer. The crisp wheat beer base and spiciness
yield to a honeyed aftertaste, perfect for the nutty sweetness of
Aged Swiss and Gruyère cheeses.
9) Provolone: Depending upon its age, Provolone may be mild and buttery,
or sharp and tangy, or even smoky. It has a distinctive creamy white
color and hand-molded shape. Makes a fabulous pizza topping, or presented
with Italian antipasto ingredients, such as pickled pepperoncini or
sliced salami and prosciutto.
Vienna-style red lager tastes warm, clean and somewhat malty, and
its bready flavor complements the more assertive Sharp Provolone.
10) Aged Cheddar: Aged Cheddar has a full, aromatic Cheddar nose and
develops a nut-like flavor, while retaining its buttery richness.
Texture becomes drier and more crumbly with age. Color ranges from
orange-gold to ivory. Varied shapes and styles available.
A dark stout with a rich, somewhat espresso taste and deep color from
black and chocolate barley malts, can stand up to assertive cheeses,
such as Aged Cheddar.
11) Asiago and Parmesan: Asiago is pure-white, firm and somewhat grainy-textured
cheese, with a full, sharp flavor, reminiscent of a Cheddar.
Parmesan is buttery-gold, hard and crumbly. An Italian-style cheese
that, when aged, has a distinctively sharp and piquant taste, as well
as a rich, somewhat oily and crumbly texture. Young Parmesan is tangy
and easily cut into chunks for tasting, while older Parmesan is most
A Marzen lager has a pale bronze color and warming malt taste, from
its somewhat higher alcohol content. It is a little spicy and goes
well with these Italian hard cheeses.
Aged Cheddar - A lovely three-year old Cheddar, crumbly and white,
goes well with an extremely hoppy IPA (for contrast), or a nutty brown
ale (for complement).
Get a "A Sampler's Guide to Wisconsin Specialty Cheese and Craft Beer"
about pairing Wisconsin specialty cheeses and craft beer, by writing
to: Brochure Request #8146, Attn: WMMB, 8418 Excelsior Drive, Madison,
about other beer and cheese pairings, such as Fred
Eckhardt at Rogue's Flanders Pub in Portland, OR.