When I mention pairing dessert and beer to people, I get some very weird looks. Once I explain that dark beers – porters and stouts – have a flavour profile that is very much like coffee, the same people become curious and willing to try something new.
Guinness, despite being the name everyone recognises, is a bit lacking in flavour and so I would only suggest it as a pairing with a delicate-tasting cheesecake. I generally advise people to avoid Guinness because of its weak taste – there are many better options to choose from, most of them from right here in the USA, and some excellent options from Alabama.
A truly outstanding pairing is cheesecake and a good porter or stout. Beer Engineers’ newest release, their Peanut Butter Porter (which should be found in stores soon), is a divine pairing with a plain cheesecake. Our only complaint while testing was that we ran out of beer before we finished the cheesecake. (I know, it’s a terrible problem.)
A good surprise pairing is strawberry cheesecake and summer seasonal beers, like Avondale’s Spring Street Saison. This pairing is light and delicate and will appeal to a palate that does not appreciate the intensity of dark beer!
If you think that might be too sweet, try Cahaba Brewing’s Rye Stout – it’s a little drier than many stouts, and should cut the sweetness nicely. If you think it’s not rich enough, try Good People’s Fatso or El Gordo, or (if you can find it), Straight To Ale’s Laika. Laika is an occasional offering, so snap it up when it appears! It should cellar well.
Introducing your friends and family to dark beer and cheesecake should open their minds to why you like craft beer. It may also win some of them over from pairing wine and food which can only be a good thing: wine and food simply do not offer the same level of complexity and precision that you can get from pairing beer – good craft beer – and food.
Excellent Alabama offerings
- Beer Engineers Peanut Butter Porter
- Cahaba Brewing Rye Stout
- Good People Fatso
- Good People El Gordo
- Straight To Ale Laika