You don’t have to be an expert to host a beer and cheese pairing. Just knowing a few basics about beer and characteristics of cheeses is really all you need to know for to pair beer and cheese. Similar to wine, beer has a natural progression, so you’ll want to follow that from light to dark. If you start with a strong beer like IPA it can ruin the nuances of the other beers in your flight. The other thing to be careful of when trying to pair beer and cheese is to make sure not to have too many different kinds or the flavors get lost.
Pilsner – A Pilsner is mild and has floral notes. It pairs well with spicy items. So go for a spicy, peppery cheese like a spicy Havarti. That would bring out the best notes in the beer. Avoid cheddar though. Habanero Cheddar sounds great but may be too overpowering for the beer.
Wheat – This pairs nicely with a Chevre, slightly sweet goat cheese.
Brown Ale – What’s nice about this beer is that it is friendly with many cheeses. Try it with an aged Swiss or mild cheddar. Another cheese that would do well with it is a sheep’s milk cheese. Taste a couple cheeses and pick which one you like best for your beer and cheese pairing.
IPAs – IPAs or India Pale Ales are hoppy and have a strong flavor. Pair it with a blue cheese or a sharp cheddar. Since IPAs vary so much, you could put out two different cheeses for your beer and cheese pairing and let your guests try both. Some guests may like one better than the other.
Stout – Lastly you’ll be pairing a dark beer like a stout with your cheese. The coffee-like taste of a stout needs something a bit smokey to pair with. Gouda is probably one of the best cheeses you can pair with a stout.