Instead of cooking this week, we are assembling a craft beer and cheese party!

Our favorite part about putting together a cheese plate is the visit to the cheese shop. We have a local spot that lets us sample before we buy. You should try to find a place that does the same so you know what you’re buying and have an sense of the flavors. (Plus, free cheese samples.) The idea is to get a variety of good cheeses and beers, then allow your guests to mix and match to find the pairings they like best.

As far as beer goes, we started with one of our favorites: the versatile Long Strange Tripel from Boulevard Brewing Company. It boasts aromas and flavors that love to be paired with a wide range of cheeses. Next, we were lucky enough to come across La Trappe Quadrupel from Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven, the same beer that a cheese we bought was washed with. Then we added the Zarabanda by Deschutes, the Prairie Hop from Prairie Artisanal Ales, Citra Ass Down by Against the Grain Brewery, and a few other fun beers that we thought would work with a variety of cheeses. Belgian-style tripels and quadrupels are generally safe bets for cheese pairings.

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To round everything out we picked up a sampling of crackers and accompaniments. To balance a legit cheese board, you want something sweet (fig jam), something spicy (homemade beer mustard) and something tart (pickled veggies).

These are our pairings. Let them inspire you to throw your own craft beer and cheese party.

Cotswold paired with Against the Grain Brewery’s Citra Ass Down
Cotswold, a variation on a Gloucester cheese made with chopped onions and chives, is a perfect pairing for the hoppy IPAs that dominate the American craft beer market. Citra Ass Down has an intense hop profile that matches the intensity of the Cotswold. This cheese also worked well with the dry-hopped saison Prairie Hop.

Cowgirl Creamery Brabander Goat Gouda paired with Boulevard Brewing Company’s Long Strange Tripel
This goat gouda has a subtle grassiness and earthiness. The fruity esters of Long Strange Tripel add a sweet layer of complexity on top of the cheese. Both are enhanced with a fig jam. This cheese was a recommendation from our cheesemonger, so don’t be shy about asking for recommendations, as your cheesemonger can be your best friend. This cheese also paired well with the flavors of Zarabanda, a Deschutes beer designed in culinary collaboration with famed chef Jose Andres, and should go great with any malt-forward beers you love.

La Trappe Quadrupel Beer Cheese paired with Bierbrouwerij de Koningshoeven’s La Trappe Quadrupel
This cheese is continuously washed with La Trappe Quadrupel while it ages, so it made sense to pair it with that beer. The creaminess of the cheese and the aggressively malty and sugary beer were a perfect match. This cheese also paired well with Brewery Ommegang’s Three Philosophers and a bacon-fig jam.

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