The printing press, the lightbulb, penicillin, beer, and cheese—just a few of humanity’s greatest inventions.
Beer and cheese have a long history. Both were invented thousands of years ago and have since formed a special bond with many of us in society—especially when they’re enjoyed alongside one another.
We’re sharing some of our favourite beer and cheese pairings with the hopes of inspiring you to get out and explore!
We went with some of the amazing choices available in of our region. If you live in the area, we encourage you to do the same!
We love to pair things with cheese, but we want you to remember: our word is not gospel. We believe that to pair is to explore, and at a fundamental level it should be simple and enjoyable—find what works for you!
How to Explore Cheese & Beer
- Compliment & Contrast. Sometimes a cheese compliments a specific style of beer, other times it works better if the two are explored in contrast with one another
- Sample. Reflect. Sample again. Often the nuance of a good pairing is found after the first sip of beer, on the second, or even third bite of cheese, once your palate has adjusted and the flavours have had time to settle in.
- Enjoy it. We encourage you to be bold and brave in exploring the world of pairings: experiment, celebrate, and share!
While each of these beer pairings is general, we chose some hometown faves. Guelph is positively spoiled when it comes to quality craft beer. Each of our suggested pairings are accompanied by a delicious local brew, all of which are currently available at their respective breweries.
(Local example: Borrowed Time Saison by Royal City Brewing)
Challerhocker is an unpasterurized, semi-firm cheese from Switzerland that is a great representation of Alpine cheeses more generally. This delicious, intensely flavoured cheese is washed with wine and spices, then aged for a minimum of eight months.
Borrowed Time is a deceptively simple beer, brewed in the style of a rustic saison. Effervescent, bright, and wildly refreshing, this low ABV saison harkens back to old-school beers historically brewed by farmhands throughout western and central Europe.
Why it Works
A great example of beer and cheese complementing one another. Taken together, the floral, fruity notes play off each other—Challerhocker’s notes of wildflower honey and spring blossoms pick up the bright and poppy characteristics of the saison. Subtly spicy white pepper notes of Borrowed Time further accentuate the spice and wine wash on the rind of this beautiful Alpine cheese.
Wild Nettle Gouda & Lager
(Local example: Helles Lager by Wellington Brewery)
Wild Nettle Gouda is an Ontario-made cheese. This creamy Gouda is flecked with wild nettles, providing an earthy flavour that is reminiscent of ‘herb and garlic.’
Wellington Helles Lager is a straight-down-the-line German-style lager. Its strength lies in its simplicity. Crisp, clean, and supremely crushable, Helles Lager’s slight malt sweetness is balanced by its refreshingly bitter finish.
Why it Works
This is a very mild affair and a great way to either start your pairing. The bitterness of the beer allows the subtle flavours of the Wild Nettle Gouda to shine, emphasizing its creamy texture on the second and especially third bite. The herbaceousness of the cheese finds a welcome partner in the well-rounded Helles Lager.
Saint Agur & IPA
(Local example: Exhibition IPA by Royal City Brewing)
Saint Agur is a double-cream blue cheese from France. Its supremely soft and creamy texture is heightened by its sharp, rich flavour, all of which culminate in a salty finish that rounds out a luxurious tasting experience.
Royal City Exhibition is a crisp, clean, hop-forward Session IPA. It’s punch-y hope profile imparts notes of tropical citrus, while its slightly bitter finish leaves you reaching for another sip. And another.
Why it Works
These two are the definition of ‘opposites attract.’ The soft richness of Saint Agur is scrubbed away by Exhibition’s hoppy bubbles. When you go back to the cheese again, the residual bitterness of the beer allows the rich blue to shine through, amplifying its most complex flavours. This is a true yin and yang experience of opposites finding harmony.
Aged Red Leicester & Dark Ale
(Local example: Stonehammer Dark by Fixed Gear Brewing)
Hailing from the UK, Aged Red Leicester is a classic—and for good reason. This cheese is as impressive looking as it tastes, with a crumbly texture that gives way to a nutty, earthy, and slightly sweet flavour profile.
Fixed Gear has resurrected Stonehammer Dark, a veritable classic in the history of Guelph’s brewing scene. Its roasted malt profile provides a beautiful caramel backbone, which mounts to a clean finish and a subtle lingering sweetness.
Why it Works
Two simple words: time and place. Red Leicester is a staple of UK cheesemaking, and Fixed Gear’s Stonehammer Dark is an homage to a classic UK dark ale; this is a pairing that has very likely been enjoyed in many a public house over the years. The dark ale elevates the Aged Red Leicester: its caramel malt amplifies the slight sweetness of the cheese, while its firm malt profile emphasizes the nuttiness.
Le Chevronne & Weisse Beer
(Local example: Berliner Weisse Blueberry by Brothers Brewing)
Le Chevronne is a mild Brie-style goat-milk cheese from Quebec. Its bloomy white rind gives way to a soft and mild interior, which possesses a host of delicate-yet-bright flavours.
Berliner Weisse Blueberry is a German-style sour wheat beer, brewed with blueberry puree. It’s delicate in both fruit and flavour—on the sip it’s light and fruit forward, with a tart finish that’s pleasant and not punch-you-in-the-face sour.
Why it Works
Both work well together in balance and harmony. The fruit aspect of the beer eases you past the mild start of Le Chevronne; the slightly funk-y richness of the goats cheese is then balanced nicely by the sprightly acidic finish of the beer.
Dark Side of the Moo & Stout
(Local example: Chocolate Milk Stout by Wellington Brewery)
Dark Side of the Moo is a mild cheese that’s bathed in stout for several days. It’s soft, springy texture gives way to an ever-so-slightly smoky middle, which is balanced by an overall delicate flavour profile.
Chocolate Milk Stout is a deceptively strong beer with delicious notes of cocoa and light coffee. Malty and unashamedly sweet out the gate, the high ABV and lactose give this stout a rich mouthfeel.
Why it Works
A decadent stout pairs well with a stout-soaked cheese—who would have thought? This is truly a match made in heaven. The semi-richness of the cheese is this beer's perfect partner, providing a delicate and nuanced foil to Wellington’s silky smooth stout.