The Umami-Rich Ingredient Your Beer Cheese Needs

Beer cheese is the ultimate intersection where bar snack meets comfort food. For an old reliable gastronomic friend that works hard for you, show it some love and put in a little extra work back. Although, not too much extra work. Taking your beer cheese game to the next level is as simple as stirring in a dollop of one extra ingredient, but it's no less impactful for its ease of inclusion. Next time you're in the beer cheese zone (a great place to be), break out the miso.

That traditional tangy, savory beer cheese flavor is made more dimensional with some mouth-watering depth from a dollop of miso, specifically red miso paste (one of three types of miso). That umami-dominant taste with sweet, salty, nutty, spiced undertones can instantly elevate any dish — or in this case, dip. The addition of the miso emphasizes the beer flavor because both ingredients are produced by natural fermentation. You could opt for dark stout beer to further darken that soy sauce-esque profile or up the fermented flair and use a strong, hoppy IPA for bolder beer flavor. To incorporate miso paste into your homemade beer cheese recipe, just use your regular recipe (perhaps our Kentucky beer cheese recipe) and stir in a dollop. That's it. Two tablespoons of miso paste per pound of cubed cheese is a solid jumping-off point, but feel free to adjust to taste from there. The miso bang can be as bold or nuanced as you like.

Put the miso in the cheese-o

To really allow the flavor of the miso paste to shine, opt for a cheese that will complement the condiment. A mixture of sharp cheddar and bleu cheese would play up the fermented funk. Or you could counterbalance miso's dark depth with the bite of sharp white cheddar. Alternatively, let the miso be the star of the show with milder fontina. This luscious, flavorful miso beer cheese can also be made totally vegan-friendly by substituting non-dairy cheese, thick cashew cream, or silken tofu in place of the cheese.

This elevated beer cheese is easy to whip up on the stovetop and can please a crowd in a flash. If you're entertaining or leisurely grazing, you could keep your snack evenly warmed over low and slow heat by making it in a ceramic fondue pot. Steer clear of metal fondue pots for this one, as they can scorch that smooth, silky miso beer cheese. From there, all that's left to do is scoop it up with buttery crackers, baguette slices, hunks of rye or sourdough bread, potato chips, celery, or cauliflower. You could also dunk soft or hard pretzels in your miso beer cheese, but keep in mind that the miso paste is going to pack a decent amount of saltiness already. You could even top it with furikake flakes or roasted garlic cloves for an umami home run.