Beer Cheese Is More Complex Than You Might Expect

There are a few classic combinations that get nearly every beer enthusiast excited: Beer and pretzels, beer and pizza, and beer and snack dip. But what if you combine some fantastic ingredients (cheese and beer) to make a delicious dip to dunk the pretzels? With a classic beer cheese dip, as The Pioneer Woman describes it, the beer helps to offset the richness of the cheese, in addition to making it the right consistency for dipping items into. The idea to combine the two took place in the late-1930s in Kentucky, according to Beer Cheese Festival. The story goes that a chef developed a recipe for beer cheese for his cousin's restaurant so he could offer it to customers for free to encourage them to drink more beer. Other bars and restaurants began to offer beer cheese, according to Vine Pair, and its popularity only grew. 

While beer cheese may be available around the country, in Kentucky, it's still often found at older taverns where a container of the cheese is placed on the bar for customers to snack on. Vine Pair even suggests that Queen Elizabeth would buy containers while visiting horse farms in the state. Additionally, once a year, the city of Winchester, Kentucky, hosts the Beer Cheese Festival, which has been held since 2009. For those who can't travel to Kentucky, there are a variety of recipes to make the savory, and sometimes spicy, snack at home.

A perfect blend

As the name would suggest, two of the main ingredients in beer cheese are beer and cheese, but there are so many ingredient varieties from which to choose. A recipe from Vine Pair recommends using a beer that doesn't have a strong taste of hops. Think blonde or brown ale or a wheat beer. The same recipe calls for cream cheese and grated cheddar cheese. Another recipe for Kentucky beer cheese includes sharp cheddar cheese and blue cheese with a stout beer. In addition to the taste of the cheeses and beer, the dip gets flavor from Worcestershire sauce, white wine vinegar, garlic, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper. The recipe from Vine Pair does not call for Worcestershire sauce, but instead gets flavor from shallots and peppercorns.

The Pioneer Woman recommends selecting a beer for the dip based on personal preference. A big fan of beer may want to go with a stronger-tasting IPA, while someone who prefers mild beers could use a pilsner or lager. The preferred cheeses for this dip are fontina and sharp yellow cheddar. Onions, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce give the beer cheese additional flavor. While pretzels are the go-to item for dipping in beer cheese, pretzel bread is another option, per Vine Pair. Also, consider crackers, rye bread, and chips. Then simply dip and enjoy.