MADISON, Wis. — All celebrations are looking a little different these days, but grab your dirndl and lederhosen because Oktoberfest must live on. No travel? No problem! Wisconsin, the State of Cheese® is sharing the top three beer and cheese pairings to celebrate Oktoberfest at home.
“Cheesemakers in Wisconsin have deep European roots, and craft German style cheeses with recipes that have been passed down through many generations,” says Molly Browne, Education Manager at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. “Beer is the perfect palate cleanser for cheese as well, and frankly, it’s hard to go wrong when pairing beer with cheese.”
You can dance to polka music by yourself in the living room, share a beer tent you built in your backyard with your pandemic pod or even have a neighborhood street party with everyone in their own front yards. You can make it an Oktoberfest to remember by inviting Wisconsin’s power couple – beer and cheese – to your celebration!
1. Butterkäse and Kolsch
Käse is German for cheese, so it is no surprise that butterkäse has a mild, buttery taste and creamy texture. The top beer pairing recommendation would be a Kolsch – a type of light German ale known for its popularity at Oktoberfest celebrations across the world.
“It’s fruity, light, and refreshing – ideal for cutting through the richness of butterkäse so your taste buds can reset between bites of buttery goodness,” says Ken Monteleone, owner of Fromagination cheese shop in Madison, Wisconsin.
2. Limburger and Belgian Ale
The robust and creamy Limburger is one of the state’s claims to fame – Wisconsin is the only state to make Limburger, and it is crafted by a Master Cheesemaker. Limburger is a washed rind cheese that packs a punch; it’s an earthy and pungent delicacy. A cheese with this much personality needs a beer of equal stature – and a dark Belgian ale fits that bill.
“Belgian ales come in a variety of different types, but they are almost all moderate to high in alcohol content and are known to be on the sweet and malty side,” says Browne. “Some sweetness is just what you need to match the intensity of limburger.”
3. Brick and Weiss Beer (Hefeweizen)
Few cheese and beer pairings capture Wisconsin’s Oktoberfest pride like brick cheese and a Weiss beer. This Wisconsin original cheese was the brainchild of Swiss-born American Cheesemaker, John Jossi. Inspired by his time making limburger in Wisconsin, Jossi dreamed of a drier, less pungent version of the Bavarian classic, and so, brick was born.
Brick is a smooth, semi-soft cheese that is milder than Limburger while still delightfully nutty. This flavor profile makes it a perfect pairing for a Weiss beer, also known as a wheat beer. “This type of beer uses different yeasts than contemporary American wheat beers, resulting in a fruitier flavor that can match up with brick’s strong character,” says Monteleone.
Of course no Oktoberfest would be complete without homemade soft pretzels and beer cheese dip. Learn to make your own with easy recipes from WisconsinCheese.com. To learn more about hosting an Oktoberfest celebration at home, view the full Cheese Lover’s Guide to Oktoberfest.
About Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin: Funded by Wisconsin dairy farmers, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that focuses on marketing and promoting Wisconsin’s world-class dairy products. For more information, visit our website at wisconsindairy.org.
About Wisconsin Cheese: The tradition of cheesemaking excellence began more than 175 years ago, before Wisconsin was recognized as a state. Wisconsin’s 1,200 cheesemakers, many of whom are third- and fourth-generation, continue to pass on old-world traditions while adopting modern innovations in cheesemaking craftsmanship. For more information, visit WisconsinCheese.com or connect on Facebook.