There are a few truths inherent to long summer weekends, chief among them being that there will inevitably be a few leftover bottles or cans of beer — you know, the stuff that got a little too warm out at the park or by the pool and lost its effervescent sparkle.
Earlier this month, I ended up with a couple de-fizzed bottles of pale, amber ale, but didn't want to just toss them out, so I thought back to a few years ago when I attended The Kentucky Beer Cheese Festival. The one-day festival is held annually in Winchester, Ky., where visitors and residents celebrate beer cheese, which is, as the name suggests, a spread made of beer, sharp cheese and spices.
Want more great food writing and recipes? Subscribe to Salon Food's newsletter.
When I went in 2017, lines of booths wrapped around the quaint mainstreet blocks as producers from all over the state encouraged tourists to sample their wares. Some folks came prepared with coolers and bags of pretzels and pita chips for sampling.
It was there that I learned that beer cheese can range in texture and temperature from a nearly-liquid hot fondue to a thick and chilled spread, almost like pimento cheese. I tend to find that my personal happy place is somewhere in the middle, so I set to work whipping up something so my beer wouldn't go to waste.
The result is tangy, creamy and on the spicier side than your typical beer cheeses. It's great as a dip for chips, but trust me – it shines as a condiment. Spread it on a burger, add it to your grilled cheese for extra dimension or drizzle it over potato wedges for a play on cheese fries.
Recipe: Beer Cheese Spread
Makes about 2 cups
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
- 8 ounces of pepperjack cheese, shredded or cubed
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 teaspoons hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup of beer
- Scallions for garnish, if desired.
- In a food processor or blender, add the cheese and seasonings and blitz until completely combined.
- Slowly add the beer a little at a time, while continuing to blend. Process until smooth.
- Scrape into a bowl and cover, refrigerating for at least an hour. Garnish with scallions, if desired.
Read More Saucy: