Over the past few months, we’ve been looking for comfort any place we can get it. We’ve done this by streaming all the movies, playing cards, and napping under cozy blankets whenever possible. We’ve also taken a lot of comfort in food. Everyone is baking bread these days. And you knew cheese was going to stay popular. Put them together, add heat, and you have the iconic and simple grilled cheese — perhaps the quarantine dish of 2020.
“I would stay away from any hoppy beers like IPAs and even wheat beers when it comes to grilled cheese,” he says. “It’s filling enough with the bread on the grilled cheese and having a heavy beer will just make you feel bloated. Also, overly aromatic and flavorful beers just kill the taste of a less flavorful grilled cheese. Don’t overwhelm the sandwich with an over-flavorful beer.”
Since we’re always looking for new pairings (and anything to take our minds off of the strange world we’re living in), we decided to ask some of our favorite bartenders tell us the beers they like to pair with a salty, gooey, grilled cheese sandwich.
Peter Ruppert, beverage director at Short Stories in New York City
If I’m whipping up a grilled cheese, I always like to crack open a Sapporo from Sapporo City Japan. I’m currently the head bartender of a brand-new bar called Dr. Clark in Chinatown and in the process of putting it together, I got in the habit of pairing Sapporo with everything.
Deschutes Da Shootz
Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles
You want something that can somewhat quench the thirst from the saltiness of a grilled cheese. Lager or pilsner will work best and that is as far as I would go. One beer that has become a favorite recently and that we carry on tap at our hotel is Deschutes Da Shootz lager, which is a very refreshing American Pilsner that is clean, lightly toasted with a hint of citrus, and is very refreshing.
An easy to drink beer like this will match up perfectly with an easy to eat grilled cheese.
Grimm Ales After Image
Jordan David Smith, spirits director and head bartender at HALL in New York City
The answer to this really depends on how you make your grilled cheese. Are you keeping it classic to the core with Kraft singles and Wonderbread? If so, you’d honestly be best served by a PBR, because you need something light, crisp, and relatively straightforward. If you’re kicking it up a notch to Cabot cheddar and that fourth iteration of sourdough you’ve baked, move up to a tropically hop-forward IPA or DIPA, like Grimm’s Afterimage for its bitter backbone and juicy fruit notes to balance that salt and tang of the cheese and the slight funk of the bread. And if you’re one of those psychos who uses soft-ripened bloomy rind cheeses like 80% of what they crank out at Jasper Hill (think Harbison), you’ll want a saison for that characteristic blend of prickly carbonation, fresh-cut grass, and slight pepperiness; and you can’t get more true-to-type than Saison Dupont, though Hill Farmstead’s Anna is sublime if you can find it.
Maine Beer Lunch
James Arensault, director of food & beverage at Harbor View Hotel on Martha’s Vineyard
For this, I’d go with a New England-style IPA. Lunch (Maine Beer Company) Small batched New England IPA, citrus notes and a full flavor, pairs well with hot melted cheese and always very refreshing.
Everson Rawlings, mixologist at Scrub Island Resort Spa and Marina in the British Virgin Islands
The best beer for paring with grilled cheese is normally an ale but ales are not popular in the Virgin Islands, so I go with Carib Lager which represents the Caribbean. It’s a light, refreshing lager that pairs with the rich cheese and crispy bread.
Olde Mecklenburg Copper
Scott Daniel, bartender at The Ballantyne in Charlotte, North Carolina
We enjoy pairing Olde Mecklenburg Copper with a classic grilled cheese sandwich, and, in fact, our chefs have gone a step further and created a savory OMB Copper Gruyere cheese that we feature in dishes like our onion soup.
Revelry Poke The Bear
Brandon Carter, chef at FARM in Bluffton, South Carolina
I like Poke the Bear from Revelry for this. I feel like they would work well together because they’re both comforting and unpretentious. Simple, light beer with a classic, simple comfort food.
Little Creatures Pale Ale
Sebastien Derbomez, brand advocacy manager of William Grant & Sons
Little Creatures (specifically their pale ale) of course. Grilled cheese sandwich brings me back to the time I used to live in Australia, Little Creatures has a beautiful old waterfront warehouse in Perth and their beers are delicious.
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Jon Joseph, bartender at JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa in Sonora, Texas
Cheese is very fatty and just like wine, we need some structure to hold up to the fat content. We would choose a bourbon barrel-aged beer like Kentucky Breakfast Stout. It has a creamy finish to pair with the cream of the cheese. It works because it doesn’t overpower the sandwich.
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
One of my favorite beer styles is schwarzbier, essentially a black lager. The robust flavors of a stout but without the heft of a high-ABV beer make it an attractive pairing for something like a grilled cheese. My favorite domestic schwarzbier is from Metropolitan Brewing in Chicago — Magnetron. That being said, if you strike out looking for a true schwarzbier, there’s nothing wrong with a Guinness to wash down a good, savory sandwich.
Wynwood Laces IPA
Nicole Quist, beverage director at Bartaco in Aventura, Florida
I’ve got to go with a Wynwood Brewing pick here. We got the first canning of Laces IPA for our opening and the bold flavors here really stand up to cheesy goodness. I like it with our duck quesadilla (kind of like a grilled cheese).