Wine-and-cheese is such a classic combination that you might not think of going beyond it. But beer is a pretty terrific match for cheese too, and this is just the week to switch out your glass of Cab for a pint. Consider it an homage to the biggest beer drinking holiday of all: St. Patrick's Day.
Sure you can drink your Guinness with whatever cheese you've got on hand, but there's an art to it too. We've gathered a few great suggestions from some Los Angeles cheese sources. Turn the page for 6 great beer and cheese pairings.
Andrew's Cheese Shop in Santa Monica highly recommends Kirkham's Lancashire, a firm English cheese made from raw cow's milk that's crumbly, creamy and tangy all at once. Pair it with Meantime London Porter, a dark sweet ale. Andrew's also suggests Cave-Aged Marisa, another firm cheese – this one's made of sheep's milk – that's sweet, with some slightly rambunctious flavors, for matching with Allagash's Curieux, a triple ale beer from Main with soft, vanilla and coconut notes and hints of bourbon. Aging the cheese in Jim Beam barrels is the reason for that tasty bourbon flavor.
Pairing cheese that has beer in it with beer makes perfect sense, and Laurent Bonjour of The Cheese Corner, suggests just that. Try Chimay cheese, which has been washed with beer and has a soft, creamy and frank, slightly pungent taste with, what else, a Chimay beer. For a cheese with a sharper bite, try the Red Dragon from Wales, a moist, tangy, buttery and spicy cheese made with mustard seeds and ale and wash it down with a Welsh beer.
The Mercantile LA's love for beer and cheese shows in this tempting combination. Start with Edwin's Muenster a sweet, honey-like raw cow's milk cheese from Schwartzberg, Austria. It has hints of old-fashioned muenster, but it's much more sophisticated and really soft and creamy. Pair the cheese with Mahleur 12, a dark beer from a relatively new producer in Belgium. This beer has sweet cherry, blackberry and candied walnut flavor that complement the sweetness and salt of the Edwin's beautifully.
And if you are looking to celebrate an Irish cheese, Wally's Wine and Spirits has the answer. They love the Cahill's Porter, a cow's milk cheddar blended in a pretty mosaic pattern with porter beer. It's meaty, creamy and medium bodied with chocolate and mocha notes on the finish — a fantastic match for Telegraph's Stock Porter, which has similar chocolate flavors along with some fruit and vanilla and a lively acidity. A refreshing beer, it makes a wonderful partner to this cheddar, which also makes a great show piece on your cheese plate.
Andrew's Cheese Shop, 728 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 393-3308; Laurent Bonjour's Cheese Corner, (check website for Farmer's Market locations/times) (310) 678-6898; The Mercantile LA, 6600 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 962-8202.; Wally's Wine and Spirits, 2107 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 475-0606.