We're suckers for a classic culinary love story: chocolate and mint, peanut butter and jelly, salty butter and warm bread, to name a few.
In the bar snack world, the reigning couple is beer and cheese. To wit: Nachos always taste better alongside a can of beer, and we wouldn't dare dig into cheese fries without a pint nearby.
But more and more, chefs are seeing the merit of melding the two together in a single, flavor-packed spread.
The new Food Market in Baltimore rejects any ornament, serving a balanced version of the beer cheese alongside some Amish pretzels.
Other kitchens are taking license with the humble appetizer. We found it dressing up a slice of toast topped with bacon and a fried egg at Philadelphia's Alla Spina, and substituting (in fine oozy, saucy form) for the standard cheddar slice on Murray's Cheese Bar's exceptional cheeseburger in New York City.
At Freshcraft in Denver, the spread is thrown to the fire: Cheddar and jack are melted into an oniony ale-spiked soup, then finished off with bacon.
Fortunately, this spread is simple and quick to whip up (see the recipe). Make a batch, and then challenge yourself to find something a little beer cheese doesn't improve.
Beer-cheese waffles, beer-cheese-and-turkey sandwiches, beer-cheese baked potatoes? No dish is safe.