Soft pretzels go with beer cheese like bread and butter. It's like they are made for one another. Being a Kentuckian now, we had to start making our own beer cheese. It's big in Northern Kentucky. Even the finest restaurants around here have their own version of beer cheese served with soft pretzels as an appetizer. It's not just a stadium snack or gameday appetizer around here.
What Is Beer Cheese?
Beer cheese is a saucy, cheesy dip or spread that was created by a chef in the late 1930's in Winchester, KY. Supposedly, he created this dip and served it as an appetizer to increase his customer's appetite for beer! The popularity of this delicious cheese dip has since spread across the country and is served with hard and soft pretzels, vegetables and crackers. It's quite popular in all types of restaurants throughout KY, which is where we call home now.
Beer cheese is originally very thick and more like a spread if it's truly authentic, but it has morphed into a smoother saucier cheese that can be served warm or cold. It goes quite well with a homemade soft pretzels.
What type of Beer is Best?
If you're wanting to make a mellow crowd friendly beer cheese dip, you need to use the lightest lager beer possible, like a Yuengling Light or any other standard light American Lager.
If you don't mind the beery taste in your beer cheese dip, a porter is great! I don't mind the beery taste, but some people are put off by it, especially little people like my kids....for good reason. I'm ok with that. Wink. wink.
What cheese is best for beer cheese?
My husband teases my because I like only REAL cheeses, and that is the truth. I am not an advocate of "fake" processed cheese type products, so I will not recommend them on here. I do however understand they serve a purpose at times. A lot of cheese dips call for it and it does make for a mean grilled cheese.
I recommend good old fashioned sharp cheddar cheese for this recipe. Some recipes also have included blue cheese to give it a twist, which is great as well. It just might not appeal to some crowds.
How To Make Beer Cheese?
Beer cheese is fairly simple to make. The most important thing is to stay close to your sauce pot and not walk away. You just need to tend to your ingredients, whisking often to keep anything from over cooking. You want the flavor of the beer to mellow out and be a subtle taste, instead of taking over the taste of this cheesy dip.
If you look for authentic Beer Cheese recipes, like the original KY beer cheese, the ingredients can vary a bit, but overall the main ingredients are about the same.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Flour- needed to make your rue and help thicken up your dip
- Beer- A very light lager is ideal so that the beer flavor is not over-powering.
- Heavy Cream or Half & Half
- Dijon Mustard
Additional Ingredients to Spice up your Beer Cheese
- Worcestershire Sauce- This is a nice addition for depth of flavor for your cheese dip.
- Hot Sauce- Many original beer cheeses were spicy, including the original chef's in KY who came up with it. 1 teaspoon of it in this sauce will not make your cheese dip spicy, it will just give it more flavor, to stand out from ordinary cheese dip.
Beer Cheese (Soft Pretzel Cheese Dip/Spread)
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 3 cloves garlic pressed
- 12 oz bottle light lager beer room temperature is ideal
- ½ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fine ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce Tabasco or Frank's Red Hot
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese grated
- ¼ cup heavy cream or half & half
- Melt butter in a medium sauce pot over medium heat.
- Wisk in flour and sauté about 1 minute (Do not walk away).
- Stir in garlic and sauté 1 more minute, stirring constantly.
- Whisk in beer slowly, a couple Tbsp's at a time, simmer about 2 minutes.
- Then whisk in salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, continue stirring a couple more minutes until the sauce begins to thicken and simmer.
- Now, add the cheese, a little bit at a time and continue to simmer about another 4 minutes, stir until smooth and thickened up a bit.
- Finally, whisk in heavy cream and adjust salt and pepper if need be.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, let cool for a few minutes and enjoy warm or cold!