Cheese expert Janet Fletcher’s latest book brings together two global favorites, Cheese & Beer. While there are many books focusing on the many pleasures of mating wine and cheese there are far fewer tomes dedicated to the equally palate-pleasing delight of pairing wines and beers. If you’ve thought that gourmet cheese only meets its match with the perfect vintage, Fletcher, who has also written extensively about wine and cheese, can get you to adjust your thinking. Today’s craft beers offer a rich variation of flavor from sparking biere de Champagne to rich Imperial stout.
The book includes general tips for finding perfect matches by focusing on contrasting and complementary flavors. Delicate beers work well with fresh, young cheeses while malty beers complement nutty or sweet cheeses. Hoppy beers bring out the flavors in tangy cheeses and strong beers can stand up to blue cheese or harder cheeses with strong flavors.
The entire book is full of luscious photographs of creamy wedges and gently foaming pints. What is amazing about this book is the dazzling variety in both beers and cheeses. The luscious descriptions prompt the reader to explore the juxtapositions between cheeses like the famous Humboldt Fog and beers such as India Pale Ale or Hook’s Cheddar with a porter.
Ready to plan your own beer and cheese tasting night? Fletcher suggests incorporating some of the book’s themed platter to make for a fun beer and cheese night (her recommendations include the “American Cheddar Smackdown” on page 84 and the “Some Like It Strong” theme on page 50).
She advises that if you want to serve a variety of beers for sampling, you would order them from weakest to strongest (not necessarily from lightest to darkest). Fletcher usually uses alcohol content as a guide and suggests that a quadrupel or barley wine would make a nice ending point.
Another option is a locavore theme—pairing local cheeses with local beers. Another idea that Fletcher recommends to create a fun night for your guests is a “Us Versus Them” theme—juxtaposing U.S. and European beers of the same style, and U.S. and European cheeses of the same style. Or you could have a “Maibock Night” in spring or a “Wheat Beer Night” in summer with wheat beers from all over the place, and a range of cheeses that might go with them.
For more information on all things cheese check out JanetFletcher.com which includes a cheese library composed of some of her favorites from her years writing a weekly column about cheese for the San Francisco Chronicle.