We are gathered here today to witness the joining of beer and cheese in unholy matrimony.
Most of us won’t ever visit Atoka, Oklahoma, the home of Reba’s Place. But lucky for us, in a recent People magazine piece, proprietor (and music/TV legend) Reba McEntire shared the recipe of one of her restaurant’s hottest menu items: Reba’s beer cheese.
To be clear, beer cheese is not its own type of cheese. It’s a blend, often including cheddar, Monterey Jack, cream cheese, and/or (ugh) processed cheese. This is heated up and mixed with various spices and aromatics like mustard powder, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and garlic – and, finally, flat beer, which adds a welcome depth of flavor and a smooth texture. The final product is an ooey, gooey, orange delight.
But as it happens, Reba’s beer cheese is just the tip of the … erm, cheeseberg, when it comes to cooks combining these two popular powerhouses. Today, we’re serving up a menu that takes you to the far, bizarre, and lip-smacking corners of the beer and cheese world. (Enjoy at your own risk: your blood pressure and cholesterol levels may be on the rise just reading this)
Beer Cheese Coffee Stout comes from Wisconsin (duh). It’s their version of “drunken cheese” – typically made using wine, but in this case, it’s made instead by soaking cheese curds in coffee stout, pressing the curds into a block, and then aging the cheese until slightly sharp. Who wouldn’t love a mild, slightly salty cheese with a coffee-bean flavor?
If you wouldn’t love that, try these instead:
- Cheddar beer bread with sharp cheddar, or Swiss Beer Bread with Emmentaler or Jarlsberg cheese
- Welsh rarebit: an open-faced “grilled cheese” made with a mixture of cheese, ale, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and cayenne pepper
- Beer Gravy and Bacon poutine: french fries + cheese curds + beer gravy + bacon = down-and-dirty deliciousness
We are not heathens—of course you get some vegetables! Choose from boiled-in-beer corn on the cob, grilled, and sprinkled with Mexican cotija cheese or watermelon and feta cheese salad with a honey lager dressing.
With winter on the way, you may like a Wisconsin cheesy bratwurst and beer soup, with pieces of bratwurst sausage, cheddar cheese, and your favorite American beer. This was probably inspired by German cheese & beer soup, made with Allgaüer Emmentaler and Tilsiter cheese and German lager. (Many German immigrants settled in Wisconsin in the 19th century… and we know Germans brew lager wherever they go).
How does a beer and cheese mac and cheese sound? Or beer and cheese sloppy joes? Or maybe an Irish beer and cheese chicken pot pie (pictured)? If you’d rather head further south, you can savor beer-braised beef tacos with queso. Or if you’re craving Italian, try a risotto made with lager and creamy Laughing Cow cheese, pizza with a brown ale crust, or a beer and cheese gnocchi gratin.
Try a vintage beer cheesecake recipe from 1955. Or for a trendier take, dig into a chocolate Radler cheesecake. Better yet, leave it all on the table with bacon, beer, and cheese cupcakes with a sweet cream cheese frosting! (pictured at a low resolution, because anything higher might be lethal.)
So, pour that beer! Cut that cheese! Dinner and drinks in one satisfying, hearty, and delicious package? Yes please!
And tomorrow, we eat salad.