Yorkshire Beer and Cheese Pairing...
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Very controversial I know, but there has been a gradual move for cheese enthusiasts to suggest that beer works better with cheese than wine. I love my cheese and wine pairings but feel that it is often more difficult to put together great pairings with wine than it is with beer.
So why does beer work so well with cheese? Firstly, we probably need to look where they have come from – both products were traditionally made on the farm originating from grass – in the case of beer using wheat and barley, then with cheese – the actual grass ate by animals! Both are made from fermentation processes – in beers case to produce alcohol.
“The sprawling northern county of Yorkshire is becoming a big destination for beer and cheese lovers” – New York Times – 2018
Secondly, the flavours in beer somehow tend to match those in cheeses, plus beer tends to cleanse the palette between bites better than wine.
So because the Yorkshire boasts 187 different breweries of all sizes and many fine Yorkshire Ales (and artisan cheeses!), I thought I would take a look at some of Yorkshire’s fine ales and try and pair them with different cheeses (Yorkshire Cheese if possible!).
I looked at 11 types of beer – all brewed in “God’s Own County” and my recommendations can be read here…
“The County has a heritage, tradition and passion for beer and that flows through generations” Sam Moss – CEO Leeds Brewery
I don't think it takes much knowledge to put a good cheese and beer pairing together – so why not experiment with some yourself. As a rough rule of thumb – put mild with mild and intense with intense so that flavours don’t overwhelm each other.
Here are some of my choices…
Kirkstall Pale Ale (4%) & A Strong Cheddar
Kirkstall Pale is a wonderfully golden session ale with fresh malt and hop aroma, leading to a satisfying bitter finish. A very hoppy pale ale, backed by heaps of Cascade and Centennial hops.
I would recommend a strong farmhouse cheddar with this classic pale ale. They are both sharp and fruity with big flavours so they work well together. My choice would be Dale End Cheddar a strong tangy cheddar made at the Botton Creamery in North Yorkshire. Its tangy bite and rich flavor complements the hoppy taste of the ale.
I usually stop and buy some of this at the Courtyard Diary just outside Settle and it can be ordered online at www.courtyarddairy.co.uk
Recommended Yorkshire Cheese: Dale End Cheddar
Wold Top Bitter & an Aged Swiss Cheese
Wold Top’s first, flagship and still best-selling bitter. This Bitter is a light amber coloured, crisp clean aromatic session bitter. Home grown Barley malt and Northdown hops give an unusually full flavour and a long hoppy finish for its abv.
As a bitter, its fuller flavor needs a strong tangy and dense cheese to help balance out the flavours. For this reason we plumped for an aged Swiss cheese like a Gruyere. A bitter beer believe it or not, works really well with a fondue!
Yorkshire Heart Liberty Lager & a Soft French cheese
A premium handcrafted Yorkshire lager. This refreshing amber continental style lager has zesty flavours and a dry, crisp, clean finish.
Here I would recommend a Camembert or a Brie. A gooey, creamy cheese with an edible rind works best here, where the lighter flavours compliment each other. The perfumed hops pick the floral notes of the cheese and the light acidity of the lager ties well into the tang of the soft cheese.
Recommended Yorkshire Cheese: Barncliffe Brie
Little Valley Brewery - Hebden’s Wheat & A Fresh Goats Cheese
Hebden’s Wheat is a Belgian style, naturally hazy wheat beer. The beer is light in colour with hints of coriander and lemon, helping make the beer both fruity and refreshing. This organic ale is bottle conditioned and brewed at Cragg Vale near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.
Due to the wheat beers high acidity but light taste, I would suggest it is best paired with a young, mild cheese. A soft creamy goats cheese like a Chevre, makes an ideal partner with the low fat, tart, tangy flavor really hitting it off with the hint of coriander in the beer. But Yorkshire’s own Yellison’s Goat Cheese also makes a great pairing!
Recommended Yorkshire Cheese: Yellison’s Goat’s Cheese
Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale & a soft Ewe’s milk cheese
This Brown Ale is brewed with well water (the original well at the brewery sunk in 1758 is still in use!) as well as local barley, malt, yeast and aromatic hops. It is fermented in traditional “stone Yorkshire squares” to create a relatively dry ale with a rich nutty colour and palate of beech nuts, almonds and walnuts.
For the nut brown ale I had to go for a soft creamy ewe’s milk cheese. Brown Ale and the “Ploughman’s lunch” go back a long way and the nutty flavours of something like Shepherds Purse Olde York work well with the rich nutty flavours of the ale.
A brown ale also works particularly well with melted cheddar cheese.
Recommended Yorkshire Cheese: Shepherds Purse Olde York
Yorkshire Beer Fact
"Samuel Smith of Tadcaster was established in 1758 and claims to be the oldest brewery in Yorkshire"
Ampleforth Abbey Beer & A Natural Rind cheese
A real trappist ale brewed in Yorkshire – the Monks at Ampleforth Abbey use traditional Belgium trappist techniques and have restored the ancient monastic traditions of brewing beer to help create an income stream for the Abbey. The beer is brewed in partnership with Little Valley Brewery to produce a stong flavoursome ale at 7% ABV.
Stinky washed rind cheeses seem to work best with stinky brews. For this reason I am recommending an Epoisse - its brining process gives it an intense flavor – so it needs a strong beer to match. The Trappist ale is bold enough to stand up to a pungent cheese and its fruit flavours compliment the eppoise well.
Not from Yorkshire but this stinky cheese is definitely one of my favourite cheeses!
Black Sheep Milk Stout & A Stilton
A velvet, creamy stout packing notes of chocolate and vanilla. Brewed with lactose and a robust malt blend, this milk stout from Black Sheep Brewery offers a satisfying sweetness that cuts against a light bitterness, brought together through an irresistible velvet texture.
I feel that stouts pair perfectly with Stilton. The rich malty taste of the ale gives off a residual sweetness which in turn works really well with stilton. You may find this a suprising choice, but it is one of my favourite matches. Whilst not a Yorkshire cheese - Cropwell Bishop Stilton from Nottinghamshire is rather nice!
Kirkstall Brewery Black Band Porter & An Aged Gouda
A full bodied yet beautifully smooth dark porter. Perfectly balanced with an aroma of dark chocolate and roast malt with a hint of coffee. This almost black beer with a mid tan head has a lingering dry aftertaste.
It is for this reason I suggest an aged Gouda. With their concentrated flavours goudas require bold beers and porter is such a beer. The nutty and fruity flavours in the cheese are really beer friendly and work well with the aroma of dark malt. The roast malt bitterness of the porter matching the cheeses sharp edge.
Saltaire Blonde & Mozzarella
This is a light and refreshing blonde ale brewed which balances soft malt flavours with a subtle spice from Bohemian Saaz hops and a slightly fruity aftertaste.
It creates a light straw coloured beer, which is clean and bright makes it a really refreshing beer for the summer months.
The basic rule for a cheese pairing with a blonde beer is light and fresh. For that reason I would suggest pairing a creamy buffalo milk mozzarella. The bright, fruity flavor of the blonde beer work particularly well with the fresh lively flavours of the mozzarella.
Wharfedale Black & A Soft Blue Cheese
A blend of eight malted grains combine to create a smooth well balanced rich dark mild ale. Subtle hints of chocolate, coffee and liquorice come together to create a characterful lasting flavour.
The hints of coffee and liquorice of the ale needs to be balanced with a salty, sweet, tangy tasting cheese – so a creamy, soft blue cheese is my choice. A good Roquefort can handle a weighty beer and the roast malt melds well with the moldy tang. But I particularly like Shepherds Purse Yorkshire Blue once I have given into the darkside with this beer!
Recommended Yorkshire Cheese: Shepherds Purse Yorkshire Blue
Copper Dragon Golden Pippin Ale & A Crumbly Cheese
Brewed in Skipton –the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, Golden Pippin is a light refreshing golden ale brewed using a new variety of hop creating a citrus fruit flavour. Originally, a seasonal summer ale, it proved so popular it’s now brewed all year round.
This fresh & fruity beer with hints of orange on the nose acts as a very pleasant counterpoint to the mild and slightly sweet flavour of a Wenselydale cheese, combining to leave a fresh honey-like aftertaste. The crumbly texture and clean taste of the Wensleydale compliment the golden ale and we found versions containing fruit such as cranberries also worked well too.
Recommended Yorkshire Cheese: Wensleydale (possibly with cranberry)
If you love cheese and beer – Real Yorkshire Tours can help you plan a tour around some of the regions micro breweries, traditional pubs and artisan cheese makers. - www.realyorkshiretours.co.uk