What Cheese Pairs Best with an IPA?

by Karl | Last Updated: December 29, 2010

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When it comes to a great IPA paired with a great cheese, that statement is 100% true.

As one of the most popular craft beer styles in the U.S., we should know what cheese best compliments an IPA. Given how often I consume these two edibles, I’ve spent way too much time finding an answer to this question.

Let’s face the facts – it’s really hard to screw up beer and cheese together. With a solid craft beer and a cheese that doesn’t come with slices individually wrapped in plastic, it’s hard to go wrong. They’re both delicious, so what’s not to like?

Nothing is not to like. It’s all awesome. It’s just that certain combinations work better, like peanut butter and jelly. I’ve tried almond butter and jelly and it’s not the same.

So in agreement that we can find a whole great than the sum its parts, my favorite IPA and cheese pairings are.

  1. Cheddar Cheese with an IPA – A medium or sharp cheddar works. I like sharp better overall but prefer medium for a long cheese binge. This makes a great snack and is a real crowd pleaser. The cheese I use in the video is a medium cheddar from the Tillamook Dairy in Oregon.
  2. Parmegiano Reggiano with an IPA– This is an Italian cheese. For some reason whenever I hear its name I think of an Olive Garden commercial. Damn effective American marketing…This cheese is strong and sharp. By itself it may be too much, but the IPA softens the blow and makes it really enjoyable.
  3. Blue Cheese with an IPA – Blue cheeses are my favorite. Yes, some of them are really stinky and funky but this Rogue River Blue is lighter and more enjoyable. It’s got an interesting complexity and it really brings out the hop character in the beer, while the beer matches the cheese’s funkiness.

So those are my picks for the best cheeses to pair with an IPA. I apologize to my fellow Coloradans for being so pro-Oregon. We all know we make better beer ; )

So head out to a good market and pick up some quality cheese to conduct a pairing of your own. I’d love to hear what you think down in the comments.

Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.