I can't think of two words more delightful in combination than "beer cheese". Not even "wine peanuts" or "chocolate kitten" comes close. Last week I stumbled across an American recipe for flavouring cheese here.
Saunders was sceptical, muttering comments about Americans only having to flavour their cheese because it is so tasteless to begin with. Fair point, and this probably isn't a recipe to make with your finest French cheese. However, turned out that I had a block of rather tasteless cheese so thought I would do my version. And, to kill two cheesy birds with one stone, found another use for the pickle press.
First up, the beer. Specifically a bottle of False Bottom Porter from Bunting Brewhouse. Check out my buddy Jo brewing it here. This packs quite a flavour punch, as porters are want to do, with a nutty, earthy quality.
I whacked a bottle of this in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 2 heaped tablespoons of honey. I vaguely followed the recipe from the original article but consciously scaled back the sweetening agents. I threw in 5 peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon of black onion seed, and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seed. This was heated and boiled for five minutes - warning here, this does make your kitchen smell rather heady and hoppy. I left this to cool (seems obvious, but worth stating as the alternative is a gooey cheesy mess) and then put it in the pickle press with the cheese. This was left to brew for six days.
The result was pretty good. The porter was a sound choice as it could be tasted throughout the cheese and wasn't overly sweet, also turns out cumin and cheese is a good combo. The debate still ranges over whether it is too sweet or not sweet enough... I guess it depends on your pallet.
Best of all, it makes a TRULY SCRUMPTIOUS cheese on toast. "Beer cheese toast" - now those are possibly the three best words in combination.