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Beer, Cheese, Hefeweizen. Soup?

Is there nothing more satisfying than a decent pint of beer? It has been remarked recently the beer renaissance the UK is going through, and living in Scotland there are whole host of fabulous Brewery’s making different and intriguing beers. Being Edinburgh based you cannot escape the fabulous local brews from Stewart Brewing – who have recently branched out into bottles and I went to their launch night of their first Wheat beer, Hefeweizen, this week.

Intense banana flavour, but with the soft clove and wheat notes you would expect from this type of beer, and clean on the palate, it was a very complex beer that did justice to its name. It is the first time I have ever had that style of beer uncarbonated, which gave way to the stronger fruit flavours, it is refreshingly different and goes to show the versatility and innovation of the UK beer scene, and the plethora of styles and beers that are starting to immerge. Great brewery’s to sample? Anything from Marble, Lovibonds, Kernel, Highland, Dark Star, Thornbridge to name a few, and let’s not forgot Brewdog – who for all their shouting do actually know how to make decent beer. The increase in the availability of US ‘craft’ brews has diversified the market and we are not short of great beer; long may it continue.

In honour of all these great beers, here is a traditional American recipe that I have never seen in the UK. There are great ways to play around with this, mixing the styles of beer and cheese, finding things to add it, and the qualities you use in the recipe for each. Beer is perhaps the perfect combination with cheese. The malt and hops bring out so many different flavours; it brings a completely different slant to the cheese. Perhaps this is why it is the perfect accompaniment to Pizza. This is traditional in the Mid – west where they make some of the best beers about.

Beer Cheese Soup

40 g butter
100g minced celery
100g minced carrots
100g minced onion
100g flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
300 ml chicken broth
500 ml beer (or a pint)*
300 ml milk
400g cheese*
Popcorn to serve

In a soup pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add celery, carrots and onions, sauté until tender (about 6-8 minutes). Stir in flour and mustard and whisk constantly until smooth and bubbly. Add broth and beer. Cook until thickened. Put mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Gradually stir in milk, stirring to avoid scorching. Simmer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese and continue to cook until cheese has melted, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes.

Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with popcorn and serve hot.

* Different Beer styles suit different cheeses … Brooklyn Brewery from NYC recommends the following…

– Sharp Cheddar – Pale Ale
– Feta – Wheat Beer
– Mascarpone – Fruit Beer
– American Cheese – Pilsner
– Colby – Brown Ale
– Gorgonzola – Barleywine
– Gruyere – Bock Beer
– Swiss cheese – Octoberfest Beer
– Parmesan – Amber Lager

For me, there is nothing better than the first one, Cheddar and Pale Ale, or more specifically a really hoppy India Pale Ale. I would also add:

Stilton (or strong blue cheese) – Stout
Caerphilly (or mild nutty cheeses) – Milds (i.e. dark malty beers) or Red Ales
Goats Cheese – Hefeweizen

I am going to pick up some of the aforementioned Stewart Brewing Hefeweizen this weekend, some fabulous Goat’s Cheese from Ian Mellis and try this again over the weekend…

Something warm and refreshing whilst freezing at Murrayfield!

Look out on Twitter for the results…

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