Jackie Dodd / TheBeeroness.com
Adults -- “grown people,” if you will -- buy cheese at a cheese shop. They might buy a pound of grass-fed, raw milk Vermont white cheddar for $14.99 -- or perhaps a cow- and goat-milk blended cheese covered in barley malt and whisky for $50. They will not, however, visit such an establishment to purchase a fresh packet of 24 Kraft singles.
And yet, we’re gonna bet that in the long-run, adult or not, your fridge has seen way more Kraft than that fancy whiskey-cheese only Mark Cuban could afford. And we feel pretty strongly that that bright orange supermarket “cheese food” is just as worthy of a beer pairing as expensive gourmet cheese is.
To help us pair our favorite beverage with all sorts of processed cheeses commonly found in the dairy aisle, we spoke to Matt Caputo, the man responsible for buying cheese at Caputo’s, a Utah-based fine foods emporium. Despite Matt’s experience as a cheese connoisseur selling delicious world-class cheeses like the ones described above, he’s not above indulging in the products we mention below.
Here are his suggestions for pairing each with the perfect beers.
“Most of the times I’m having this cheese, I’m raiding one of my buddies fridges late at night, and not exactly thinking about flavor pairings,” Caputo says. “But I’ll say that when I eat Kraft singles, they pair well with sessionable beers. These beers get lost [if you pair them with an] expensive, strong cheese….You might as well be drinking carbonated water.” And sure, while a Pamplemousse La Croix could hit the spot alongside a late night grilled cheese, certain session beers offer a touch of bitterness to cleanse the palate for each bite of that beautifully plastic-wrapped slice of Americana.
Recommended beers: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Easy Jack IPA, Oskar Blues Brewery Pinner
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“If memory serves me, this has a pretty similar flavor profile to Kraft singles, but a pastier, mushier mouthfeel,” Caputo notes. Pastier and mushier? Where do we sign up? But when it comes to convenience, spray cheese is one of the best inventions of the modern era, and it’s about time someone came up with a solid beer pairing for it. “I’d go for a pale ale,” he says. “When you get the feeling where you want to scrape the roof of your mouth off after you eat something, you want something with bitterness. Not record-breaking IBUs though.” Beer: for when you need to scrape Easy Cheese off the top of your mouth.
Recommended beers: pFriem Family Brewers Mosaic Single Hop Pale Ale, AleSmith Brewing Co. San Diego Pale Ale .394
While it’s perfectly acceptable to spray Easy Cheese into your mouth with reckless abandon, it’s not so normal to pour Whiz -- a “processed cheese sauce” -- straight down your gullet. The best way to enjoy this product (as any Philadelphian knows) is on a cheesesteak. Caputo -- who admitted that he’s only had Cheez Whiz in this manner -- recommends it with a beer style that’s “a little richer and sweeter” than the others he mentioned: the doppelbock. “It’s like having a burger with a Coke -- it’s [a combination] of sweet and salty,” he explains.
Recommended beers: Tröegs Independent Brewing Troegenator Double Bock, Epic Brewing Double Skull Doppelbock
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If the last time you had string cheese was when your mom packed it for lunch, you’re missing out. Who doesn’t get chills when peeling off a sliver of that beautiful cow’s gold? Caputo says that the stringy cheese product is usually either mozzarella or provolone, and while he’d never classify either as a “strong cheese,” string cheese is a little bolder than a Kraft Single. And a slightly stronger cheese should pair with a slightly stronger beer, like a Hefeweizen. “Something with a little bit of spice to it, whether it’s coriander or orange zest,” he says. Or both!
Recommended beer: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Kellerweis
If you invite people over to your house and don’t at least put out a jar of Tostitos nacho cheese dip and some tortilla chips, you’re a bad host. (If you don’t get your shit together soon, we’re telling Martha Stewart.) It also might be nice of you to put out a few beers for people to drink! What types, you ask? “I’d knee jerk to any Mexican lagers,” says Caputo. “Those cheesy, peppery notes will go nice with something lighter and refreshing.” There was a time when buying Mexican lagers meant Corona, Dos Equis, and a few others brands. Now, plenty of stateside craft breweries are churning out both lighter and darker (a.k.a. Vienna-style) Mexican lagers worthy of your attention.
Recommended beers: Devils Backbone Brewing Co. Vienna Lager, Ska Brewing Co. Mexican Logger
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The snackable French cheese you can spread on anything your little heart desires, Laughing Cow is a solid snack. “[The cheese] is super mild and very fatty,” explains Caputo. “You want a beer that’ll have a bit of bitterness. Even a beer that’s not very hoppy -- like a pilsner -- will match nicely because it has such a mild flavor.” He claims that the bitterness cuts through the fat, but not so much that it covers up the subtle bite of this spreadable Swiss cheese. Though maybe you’ll want to cover up the face of that cow while you eat her product. Why is she so happy? And what is she laughing at, anyways? Is it you? Is it me? Was it a joke in French that doesn’t translate that well to English? We have so many questions.
Recommended beers: Victory Brewing Prima Pils, Trumer Pils