This smoky beer cheese is the perfect vegetarian appetizer for fall! Serve with your favorite IPA or hard cider for Sunday football!
Well, I’m going to go ahead and state the obvious – this fall has not been like other falls. My state (Connecticut) is semi-open right now due to the pandemic, but realistically things might have to close back down a bit if there’s another wave in the winter. My husband and I are both very privileged to have not been severely impacted by the pandemic. I know that so many people out there have lost their jobs, or lost loved ones, and my heart goes out to them. I hope that I can provide some small measure of comfort by offering recipes that can be enjoyed with your family, friends, or quarantine unit.
Jon and I were remarking to each other the other day how much the craft beer industry has taken off. When we were in college, the craft selection at liquor stores was a fraction of what it is now. But now, there’s an almost endless selection at the liquor store, and craft breweries have been popping up all over the place. Here in Connecticut, we have almost a dozen local breweries with a 20 minute drive of us. The best part is, most of these breweries allow dogs, so we can bring my rescue baby Ivy! Jon and I will usually set up a little table separated off from everyone else, and bring a blanket so Ivy can be comfortable.
What is smoked beer cheese sauce?
It’s simple – the sauce is made with sharp cheese, smoked paprika, and beer. It’s also rounded out with a little bit of mustard and maple syrup for a truly delicious taste! The beer really shines through in this recipe, so make sure to use one you like.
One last tip – there are few things that go with beer better than cheese and pretzels. I recommend using a rye or dark pretzel for this recipe, one that can stand its own with the big flavors going on.
This smoky beer cheese is super easy to make, and I’ve left a bunch of tips to ensure that you get the creamiest possible result when you make it. If you’re looking for a vegan version, I recommend trying out my vegan queso instead!
Smoky Beer Cheese
- 4 Tbs Salted Butter
- 2 Tbs All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup IPA Beer
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- Black Pepper
- 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tbs Maple Syrup
- 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
- 8 oz Sharp Cheddar
- 4 oz Asiago
- First, hand-grate your cheese and set it aside.
- Add the butter to a medium saucepan on low heat. Once the butter is melted, add in the flour and stir for about 45 seconds to a minute.
- Then, add in the beer, milk, salt, spices, mustard, and maple syrup and whisk for about 1 minute, or until mixture is warm.
- If you have an electric stove, keep the burner on the lowest heat possible. If you have a gas stove, turn the heat off at this stage.
- Slowly add in your cheese, whisking constantly. If you have an electric stove and the cheese isn't melting, turn the stove back on low heat for up to 30 seconds so that the mixture warms again.
- Keep adding in all of your cheese until the mixture is totally melted.
- Serve beer cheese with your favorite pretzels or chips.
- DO NOT use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheese found in bags contains an anti-caking agent (usually starch) that can make the texture grainy when melted. Be sure to buy a block of the cheese you want so that it can be shredded by hand.
- For this recipe, I recommend an IPA or another strong ale. You can use a lighter lager if you want, but you may not need the maple syrup if that's the case. For IPA's and stronger beers, the sugar keeps the cheese from becoming too bitter.
- It is imperative that the heat be kept as low as possible while making this recipe, so that the cheese doesn't "break". You'll be able to tell this has happened if the sauce becomes grainy and droplets of oil separate from the melted cheese. But don't worry, I have found that many broken cheese sauces can be saved if you *very carefully* pour the sauce into a high-speed blender, and blend on the highest speed for 45-60 seconds or more.
- If you haven't made a cheese sauce or dip before, PLEASE do not skip on the flour. The flour keeps the dip homogenous and is a key ingredient!
- Most standard cheese blocks are sold in 8-oz blocks. This should help you measure out your cheese!