Need some party magic stat? Whether you’re putting out munchies before Christmas dinner or feeding a roomful of your friends at a holiday open house, cheese-and-charcuterie boards are the best. They’re the ultimate finger-friendly food, plus prep is totally minimal. And guess what goes incredibly well with cured meats, pâtés and cheeses? Beer, of course!
Here’s how to build a memorable board to go with your favourite brews.
Meats: Cooked pork complements the nutmeg and clove flavours of some wheat beers really well. Try a chunk of garlicky kielbasa or slices of prosciutto cotto (Italian-style baked ham) on your board.
Cheeses: Wheat beers often have nice bready flavours, which are a natural match with cheeses. Slightly tart Belgian-style witbier is especially good with creamy, tangy varieties, including feta and goat cheese (a.k.a. chèvre).
On the side: Serve with sliced baguette, warm pita triangles, olives, cherry tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts. Add a little cruet of top-shelf olive oil alongside to drizzle over the cheese.
Meats: With easygoing, golden lagers, serve meats that have mild or minimal spices. That way, the subtle flavours of the meat and beer won’t drown each other out. Think serrano ham or mild Genoa salami.
Cheeses: Light lagers pair well with mild cheeses, like Swiss (a.k.a. Emmental), and their bold bubbles help cleanse the palate between bites of über-rich cheeses, like Brie.
On the side: Serve with sliced baguette, bread sticks and plain crackers. Add a jar of pickled asparagus to complement the meats, and offer some cranberry chutney and toasted walnuts to make the Brie sing.
Meats: This beer’s crisp, refreshing finish makes it one of the great charcuterie partners. It’s excellent with rich Hungarian salami, and its gentle bitterness brings out the heat of pepper salami.
Cheeses: Pilsner matches nicely with lightly aged cow’s milk cheeses — say, mild to medium cheddar — and its crisp finish cuts through the rich creaminess of Havarti.
On the side: Add rye bread and spicy brown mustard alongside the meats, and pair cream crackers and sliced apples with the cheeses.
Meats: Since bitterness amps up the heat of chilies, hoppy pale ale is the perfect brew for spice fans. Try dry-cured Spanish chorizo or hot capicollo.
Cheeses: The toasty, biscuit-like taste of pale ale makes it another terrific all-around cheese beer. Try it with nutty Jarlsberg (Norway’s answer to Swiss) or soft, creamy Camembert.
On the side: Serve the meats with rosemary focaccia and dates, and put out baguette slices and toasted pecans with the cheeses.
Meats: IPA is another excellent charcuterie brew, and salty, fatty foods tone down some versions’ feisty bitterness. Here, you’ll want some peppery pastrami or classic liverwurst.
Cheeses: The bold flavours and hoppy profile of IPAs demand bold, well-aged cheeses. Grab a crumbly cheddar — one that has its age measured in years — or a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
On the side: Artisan-style sourdough bread is perfect with all of these meat and cheese options. Pastrami just cries out for ballpark mustard on the side, and sliced pears go well with both cheddar and Parm.
Red or brown ales
On the side: You’ll need some crusty bread and strong Dijon for the meats, and seeded crackers and grapes to go with the cheeses.
Meats: Stout’s creamy texture and gentle sweetness rein in even the zestiest charcuterie. It’ll temper the tang of smoky summer sausage or cool the fire of hot soppressata.
On the side: Dark rye bread and sweet pickles are really good with the meats, and dried figs and crunchy walnuts are the cheeses’ best mates.