Bob Pease, CEO/president of the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers, suggests creative beer and no-cook food pairing options for reopening

With social distancing likely to remain in place for some time adopting a creative approach to your menu is one way of luring customers back through the door.

One such example of a different culinary experience is a pairing menu of American craft beer with no-cook foods such as cheese, charcuterie or chocolate.  Beer is the perfect partner for these foods because….

  • Acidity, carbonation and bitterness in beer cut through fat
  • Malt found in beer complements creamy, nutty, earthy or caramel flavours and contrasts with salt
  • Ingredients used in craft beer (especially carbonation and alcohol) can alter the texture of both the rind and the paste of cheese and provide complementary and/or contrasting flavours for each

Here are a few guidelines for getting started:

  • Cheese, like beer, should be served at the correct temperature. Take cheese out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature before pairing.  Keep beer at the correct temperature for the style.
  • Match intensities. Delicate, lighter American craft beers often pair well with young or mild cheeses, while stronger flavoured beer tend to work better with full-flavoured, mature cheeses.  The same applies to cold meats.
  • Look for common ground. For example, a malty craft beer pairs well with a nutty cheese, or a hoppy, bitter beer cuts through a cheese with a high fat content
  • Think about other sensations and interactions such as acidic or salty cheese with a hop-forward beer
  • Charcuterie refers to smoked, cured or cooked meats and generally involves salting (preserving) and air-drying, and this effects how they interact with beer
  • Palate balancers – nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruit, honey and pickled items all make great additions to craft beer and cheese
  • Aim for 25g of cheese per 100ml pairing of beer

Suggested American craft beer and Cheese Pairings



Soft Cheese Wheat beer, Lambic-style beer Mascarpone, ricotta, mozzarella, goats cheese etc will match the delicate notes of the beer without overwhelming the palate
Semi-soft Cheese Kolsch, Pilsner, Pale Ale Cambozola, Reblochon etc can be enhanced by a high level of carbonation.  Salty cheese like Feta, Caerphilly or Wensleydale needs a thirst-quenching, refreshing style to combat its dryness
Hard Cheese Brown Ale, Imperial Stout, Bock Cheddar, Gruyere, Emmental, Parmesan, Manchego etc echo the nutty, earthy notes of a brown ale or stout.  These beers  add creaminess on the palate to a hard cheese
Blue Cheese IPA or Imperial IPA, Barley wine Strongly flavoured cheeses such as Roquefort,  Stilton, St Agur, Danish Blue etc can be successfully balanced with bolder beer styles
Natural Rind Cheeses Golden/Blonde ale,
Pale ale
Brie, camembert, gorgonzola etc have a rich creamy base that can be refreshed with a golden, blonde or pale ale.
Washed Rind Cheeses Belgian-style ales Vacherin, Taleggio, Port Salut, Stinking Bishop etc. Beers bring out the cheeses’ delicate sweet note and can cut through the funk of the washed rind

For cold-cuts, smoked meats and charcuterie try:

Prosciutto di Parma


A classification of ham from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.  Known for its umami flavour Pilsner, Doppelbock or Saison
Bresaola (beef) Dark red cut of beef, thinly sliced.  One of the leanest cured meats Brown Ale
Speck (pork) Smoked, cured meat, milder and firmer in texture than prosciutto Smoked Beer, American Pale Ale
Saucisson Sec (pork) A French-style salami.  Typically dry-cured and rich in flavour Robust Porter
Chorizo (pork) A distinctive bright red colour due to addition of smoked paprika. Smoked Beer, Pilsner
Mortadella (pork) Cooked sausage made from ground pork meat, garnished with pistachios and small cubes of fat for extra flavour Belgian-style Trappist ale
Salami Piccante (pork) Can be spicy to mild. Spiced with paprika and hot to mild red peppers known as peperoni Imperial IPA
Pâté Usually made from ground pork, duck or chicken liver and spices Stout

Finally, for chocolate….

  • White Chocolate – creamy texture, no cocoa solids, usually contains 20% cocoa butter, sugar and 14% milk solids.  Pair with Witbier, Brown Ale, Sweet Stout, fruited Wheatbeer
  • Milk Chocolate  – usually around 35-45 cacao solids. Pair with: American pale ale, Brown ale, Amber ale
  • Dark chocolate – at least 35% cacao solids but commonly above 70%.  Pair with:  Robust Porter, Imperial Stout, Dubbel, Lambic style beers

Look out for beers with speciality ingredients such as coffee, chocolate, peanut butter and many more that offer endless possibilities for pairing with chocolate.

Restauranteurs and chefs are welcome to make use of the free resources available on including the newly updated and expanded Beer & Food Professional  Course  downloadable free of charge.