Book Review: Cheese and Beer

June 14, 2013

This year for Dairy Month, I got ahold of the book Cheese & Beer by Janet Fletcher, published in 2013. Really, everything you need to know from this book can be found in the subheading “Making Marriage Work” in the Introduction chapter. While she briefly mentions the traditional cheese and beverage pairing from the same location before refrigeration and some other history, she gets into contrast and complement instead. To that, she begins talking about texture, intensity, acidity, sweetness, bitterness, and aroma in both the beer and cheese. She “distills” everything down into four guidelines, which are not geography dependent as the same region rule:

  1. Pair delicate beers with young, fresh, cheeses
  2. Pair malty beers with nutty or “sweet” cheeses
  3. Pair hoppy beers with tangy cheeses
  4. Pair strong beers with blue cheeses and hard aged cheeses.

The following chapters are then based on a style of beer. It goes through and describes the style and what to expect, and then a suggested specific beer to try. It then talks about the kind of cheese needed to balance that beer, and suggests the cheese. My husband Burtle flipped though it and didn’t like it being so beer centric. He knows beer and feels he doesn’t know cheese, so he would rather start with a cheese and try to figure out what kind of beer to pair it with. Thing is, when I flip though cheese making books, it never seems like people can get a good grasp on cheese styles with all the rind/no rind, firm/soft, aged/fresh, etc options out there. This book kind of ignores all that by starting with the beer first and then moving to the cheese. In fact, I actually finally got a good handle on the flavor profiles of beer, which I had never really thought of before. It covers Amber and Red Ales, American Pale Ales, Bareley Wine, Belgian-Style Pale Ale, Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale, Biere de Champagne, Bitter and Extra Special Bitter (ESB), Brown Ale, Double, Holiday Ale, IPA, Kolsch and Blonde Ale, Quad, Sison and Biere de Garde, Sours, Stouts, Porters, and Imperial Stouts, Triples, and Wheat Beers for the Ales. For the Lagers, she covers Amber and the California Common, Bock and Doppelbock, Maibock, Marzen and the Pilsner.

Of course, my interest was piqued in the Beligum Pale Ale chapter when she said they are like ciders, and then says she would pair cider with complementing cheeses “such as aged British farmhouse cheeses like Cheddar, Cheshire, and Caerphilly; or with Camembert, a cheese made in cider country.”

The book does have some tables, like what cheese goes with what beer and vice versa. It also has a Glossary and a Beer and Cheese Index.

I was viewing this book digitally and in color, but I found it to be a very interesting book. Burtle and I were discussing buying it as a digital copy. We are too afraid that if we bought the physical book, we would never read it, but if, say, we had access to it on a smart phone while we are out and about, it would be very useful. Granted, you kind of loose out on the charts a little, and the “flippablity” of just browsing the book is gone. Still, I think we will get this book.

Further Readings: Other books by Janet Fletcher

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