With summer coming to a close, I think we should all take every chance we can get to take long bike rides, grill everything, drink crisp beers, and enjoy long afternoons with friends in our backyards. I love entertaining, so to take advantage of the still long, warm days I recently hosted a beer and cheese pairing and invited a small group over for drinking and backyard lingering.
A simple, summer appropriate beer and cheese pairing is a great way to get a small group of friends around a table (or picnic blanket) for a casual afternoon of eating and drinking. For my get together, I started with a fantastic warm weather beer style, the Kölsch, then choose 3 cheeses to pair with it. I rounded it out with a simple salad and grilled brats to complete the meal.
The Kölsch is a German hybrid beer style, which means it is part lager/part ale. It is brewed with top fermenting yeast like an ale, but fermented at cooler temperatures like a lager. The result is a crisp, dry beer that is lightly hopped with subtle fruity flavors. When looking for cheeses to buy for the event, I knew I needed to get some that would not over power the beer, but that would be different enough for us to have fun comparing them to each other. I went to my local cheese shop and asked them to pick out 3 cheeses that were all different styles, had medium intensity, and echoed these flavors:
I ended up with a cheddar, a goat cheese, and a creamy cow cheese. These by no means were the absolute perfect match for a Kölsch, but that wasn’t the point I was going for. I was looking for a varied line-up with good flavor that we could have fun trying and discussing with the beer. So, don’t stress too much about your cheese selections. Just make sure to pick out cheese that isn’t too strong or too weak for your beer and stick to a similar flavor profile.
Once the cheese was picked out, I made a simple tasting sheet for my guests. I kept mine pretty minimal to maintain the causal nature of the event, but you can certainly add in more info about each cheese and the pairing. Other than that, I made sure to label the cheeses, gave a brief talk about the beer, and let the fun begin! The entire thing only took me a few hours to plan, shop, and prep. I love easy entraining and no matter what, it is almost impossible to have a bad time when beer and cheese are involved. So, grab some beers, pick out some cheese, and get your friends over to enjoy summer while it lasts!
For more info on pairing beer and cheese, plus proper cheese serving techniques, be sure to check out craftbeer.com’s cheese section