Appetizer: Craft Beer-Cheese Spread / Grilled Cheese

We just came off another Super Bowl. And when I was asked to bring something, I made this delicious dip for my friend’s party. This beer cheese recipe is just right for sharing during football weekends. It relies on the best cheese and local craft beers to create an appetizer that is versatile and irresistible. The batch is big enough to give you some leftovers to make a grilled cheese sandwich that is to die for.

The most fun part of this recipe is choosing the best beer. The last decade has seen an explosion in popularity and expertise of American craft brews. A great way to show support for your local brewers and your favorite teams is to choose one of their amber lagers for the Craft Beer-Cheese Spread. My favorite is the Elliot Ness Amber Lager from Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Co. Named for Elliot Ness, the g-man who arrested Al Capone and enforced Prohibition, this amber lager is smooth and malty and blends well with smoked meats, thick bread and hearty cheese.

The second fun part of this recipe is selecting your premium cheese. The recipe calls for a very sharp Cheddar. We love Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar, from the great Vermont cheese-maker. This Cheddar is naturally lactose free, so will work with most dietary restrictions.

What You Need

  • 1 (2-lb.) block sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (12-oz.) bottle amber beer, at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: thyme sprig

Directions:  First shred your cheese. Use a heavy-duty mixer to beat together the cheese, onion, garlic, hot sauce and pepper. Make sure you keep the mixer at a low speed until blended. Gradually add your beer, beating until fully blended after each beer addition. Then turn your mixer to medium-high, speeding for approximately 60 seconds, to ensure a nice creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for 2 hours.

This recipe makes a lot of cheese spread, but it can be stored for up to two weeks in a refrigerated tupperware container. It can also be frozen for up to a month, just be sure to let it thaw for about a day before serving.

You can serve this recipe with your favorite potato chips, with pita chips, celery, carrots, or crackers. Whatever you like pairing with cheese will work well.

Bonus Tip:  Make yourself an amazing Craft Beer-Cheese Sandwich. This twist on a traditional grilled cheese requires about 1teaspoon of softened butter on 1 side of 2 bread slices. Simply place your bread buttered sides down on wax paper. Spread 1/4 cup Craft Beer-Cheese Spread onto 1 bread slice. Top with remaining bread slice, keeping the buttered side up. Cook sandwich in a nonstick skillet over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes on each side. The cheese should be golden brown when it is ready to serve. Don’t forget to pair this sandwich with a bottle of the craft beer you used to make it!

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