Are you celebrating New Year’s Eve at home? Might we suggest a simple yet effective cheese and charcuterie board with beer pairings?
Building a cheese and charcuterie board can be daunting if it’s your first time; there are thousands of options, but we’re here to help with three cheese and beer recommendations that you can customize with your favorite meats and accouterments. You should find the cheeses at most independent cheese shops and select grocers and the beers at most stores that sell craft beer.
A few tips for purchasing, storing, and serving:
- Cheese is alive and needs to breathe. Tight plastic wrap suffocated the cheese and can alter the texture.
- When purchasing pre-wrapped, read the date it was cut and packaged; you want it to be fresh.
- If possible, ask for a fresh cut piece from the wheel.
- At home, transfer to cheese paper, parchment paper, or bee’s wrap.
- Store in the crisper drawer
- Serve cheeses at room temp to fully appreciate the aroma and flavor.
- Embrace the rind.
- Experiment with accouterments and have fun with them.
- Cold beer will inhibit the taste buds; for the best results, serve the beer around 48 degrees.
And now for some parings…
Pilsner and a Semi-Soft Sheep’s Milk Cheese
Ossau Iraty – Aquitaine, France, Sheep’s Milk • Semi-soft • Aged 6 – 12 Weeks
Trumer Pilsner – Berkeley, CA, Pilsner • 4.9% ABV • 26 IBU
Why it works? Matching the subtle flavors of the cheese and beer, the beers bitterness and dry body cuts through the richness of the cheese, and the bright carbonation cleanses the palate.
Saison and Soft-Ripened Cheese
Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog – Arcata, CA, Goat Milk • Soft-Ripened • Aged 60 Days
Boulevard Tank 7 – Kansas City, MO – Saison • 8.5% ABV • 38 IBU
Why it works? Matching the farmhouse yeast profile of the beer with the cheese, matching the creamy carbonation of the beer with the fudgy texture of the cheese, cleansing the palate with high carbonation.
IPA and Aged Cheddar
Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar – Greensboro Bend, VT, Bandaged Cheddar • Cows Milk • Firm • Aged 12-14 months
Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted IPA – Comstock, Mi, IPA • 7% ABV
Why it works? Historical precedence, maybe the most iconic beer, and cheese-paring. The fruitiness and bitterness of the hops mellow the barnyard flavors of the cheese, and hop bitterness is acidity, and acidity cuts through the fat.
*Fun Fact: ale and cheese is referred to as the Ploughman’s Lunch, a pairing of cheese, meat, and bread, sometimes accompanied by onion, pickles, and meat. The name comes from a 1393 poem called Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, but laborers have consumed the meal since the time of antiquity. Today the term Ploughmans Lunch generally refers to pale ale or IPA consumed with cheddar.
Lager and Goat Cheese
Vermont Creamery Cranberry and Cinnamon Goat Cheese – Websterville, VT
Stella Artois – Leuven, Belgium, Lager • 4.6%ABV
Why it works? The creamy, spreadable, fresh versions often have a distinct, tart, sweet and earthy flavor. The clean citrusy flavors resonates very well with the similar flavors in a fresh goat cheese and the spritzy carbonation keeps everything fresh.The floral notes of the cheese are echoed in the herbal hop flavors of the lager.
Charcuterie and Accoutrements
There are many charcuterie types to choose from, various cured meats, pate, dried and fermented sausages, and terrines. For the best charcuterie, head to your local butcher or specialty shop. If you don’t have one near you, get a cured salami from the grocery store, or have the deli specialist slice you fresh prosciutto.
Jams, mustards, olives, pickled veggies, nuts, and various bread and crackers will all make perfect companions to your board. There’s no right or wrong here, so just experiment and have fun. If you’re unsure where to start, some of my favorites are caramelized onion jam, cornichons, stoned ground mustard, and sliced sourdough.