Beer and cheese—one of life’s greatest pairings. On one hand, you have a beverage made from grain. On the other, a milk product gathered from grain-eating animals. Historically, both were creations of necessity, transformed into artisanal expressions of the regions where they were produced. Just as Kölsch is the native beer of Cologne, Germany, many cheeses have a protected designation of origin based on the type of animal, its diet, and also production method.
Fuse the two ingredients and magic happens. The pairing makes me wish I were in an Irish pub singing with theregulars at the top of my lungs. Toss in a hearty beer and cheese soup and I’d dance a jig ’til two o’clock in the mornin’. There are historic recipes for this soup from pre-WWII Germany, but I prefer a basic version, adding in fresh local ingredients wherever possible. Myrendition uses sharp cheddar from Oregon and a local blonde beer—not IPA, as bitterness gets passed on when cooking with beer.
- 12 ounces Stereo Brewing Blonde on Blonde Kölsch-style Beer (or any local non-IPA blonde)
- 3 cups Tillamook sharp cheddar (12 ounces)
- 10 ounces chicken broth
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup Tillamook butter
- 1/2 cup minced onion (optional)
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Bread bowls (optional)
Start by bathing your minced onion in butter until the stick is fully melted and the onion starts to soften. Add flour while stirring, then dash in the seasonings. Once it looks like a cohesive blob, trickle in your broth, milk, then your beer, stirring constantly over medium heat. Pour another beer in a freshly-cleaned glass, then add beer to mouth at regular intervals while stirring. Once the mix is gently boiling, keep stirring until the bubbles look thick. Listen carefully for them to say, “it’s time for the cheese!” Once this happens, add your grated cheddar while stirring over medium heat until it looks yummy.
Once done, serve in a bread-bowl, topped with chives, popcorn, or copious amounts of Sriracha. Bon apetit!