Beer cheese fondue recipe so easy that you might add it to your regular appetizers rotation. Tips on good melting cheeses and compatible beer styles.
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Read on for relevant information and tips with step-by-step pictures (2 mins total).
A Cozy Melting Pot Beer Sauce
Cheese fondue is a melted cheese sauce with origins in French speaking Switzerland. Many regard it as a quintessential Swiss dish along with raclette and rosti.
It started as a way for Swiss peasants to make the most of stale bread, aged cheese and dry white wine during the cold winter months. To soften the former they dipped it in a heated sauce-like combination of the latter two.
The word fondue (literally ‘melted’) is derived from the French verb ‘fondre’ which means ‘to melt’.
Beer Cheese Fondue Ingredients
Our cheese fondue recipe with beer is as simple as it gets, with only four main ingredients.
Good melting cheese and flavorful, low bitterness beer are a given while flour and cream are facilitators of the melting process.
TIP: To simplify things select a cheese that has already been flavored – with herbs, bacon bits, chives, garlic etc.
Best Melting Cheeses for Beer Cheese Fondue
The Swiss commonly use two different cheeses in fondue. For a time Chris used to work at a resort in Vail where one of the restaurants, The Swiss Chalet serves a fondue made with no less than four imported Swiss cheeses. We love this tradition and use it with the beer cheese fondue concept.
You can use any combination of the most popular Swiss cheeses in the beer version of the dish. You can also go with a number of alternatives, as long as they are good melting cheeses. This is a list of suitable options:
- Swiss cheeses like Gruyere, Emmenthaler and Vacherin
- Gouda (especially smoked Gouda)
- Cheddar/white cheddar (sharp cheddar cheese goes very well with lager beer)
- Less traditional options such as the Gloucester cheese (with chives) we used for this post
- Cheeses from the Brie family (such as the Vacherin noted above) – these ones you will not be able to grate and will need to piece with a fork/knife
Read these practical tips on the process of transforming cheese into a beer cheese sauce or check out our feta cheese fondue recipe with beer.
Best Beer Styles to Use for Cheese Fondue
Styles with low bitterness, bready/biscuity notes and herbal, earthy aromas (Noble hops or traditional English varieties) make the best candidates to use. To that end we recommend:
- Pilsner lagers (like Bohemian (Czech) and Munich Helles)
- Dunkel and bock lagers
- Doppelbock lagers (especially well suited with more aged cheeses)
- Saisons and strong Belgian ales (nothing sour)
- Wheat ales, especially if fermented with clean American yeast (not fruit flavored of course and nothing sour)
- English pale ales, English mild
- Amber and brown ales (low bitterness, mostly aroma hops)
Avoid sour beers (including kettle sours) as their higher acidity may cause the heavy cream to curdle, especially if it is not fresh heavy cream and has already began to sour in the carton.
For the second option be sure to use the appropriate settings – consult the instructions for your specific brand and model electric fondue pot.
Before you begin to make the beer cheese fondue prepare all of your dipping foods (see below for ideas) and set the table. Open a beer for yourself and get to work.
Step 1. To start – shred enough cheese to have about four cups worth. In a bowl coat it well with flour or cornstarch (this will facilitate the melting process). Set aside.
TIP: Shred cheese while still cold from the fridge (it is easier) and let it come to room temperature before you toss it in flour.
Step 2. Next, pour the beer into a cold pot or sauce pan, turn the heat to medium and bring to simmer to cook off the alcohol. After the beer has simmered for a couple of minutes, add the cream and simmer for a few more minutes.
TIPS: 1. If you add beer to a hot pan/pot it will foam excessively. 2. If you’d like to add a bit of grated garlic or grated onion and/or any dry or fresh herbs such as picked fresh thyme leaves, add them to the beer to infuse with their flavor.
Step 3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and fold in the cheese mixture in batches while gently stirring. Once all the cheese has melted, transfer to a pre-heated fondue pot, taste and if needed season with salt & pepper, then serve.
What to Do If Your Beer Cheese Fondue Breaks
If your beer cheese sauce breaks (most likely due to adding cold cheese to too hot of a liquid base) you might end up with clumps. This is easy to fix!
Simply use an immersion blender or transfer the entire broken mess into a blender and process it until no more clumps are visible. Strain and add a few tablespoons of cream to the cheese sauce and warm it up over very gentle heat while stirring.
Fondue Party Dipping Food
You must have bread cubes as dippers! Soft pretzels bits make a great alternative.
Then of course veggie sticks such as carrots or celery, asparagus spears, cauliflower or broccoli florets, fruit like avocado, mini peppers (even blistered shishitos), mini tomatoes, apples, steamed new potatoes or roasted thick potato wedges. On and on. Don’t forget mushrooms as a prospect.
As huge meat lovers we always make sure to have at least one tasty protein like grilled steak, sausage bites (even pigs in a blanket), mini meatballs such as frikadellen and the like.
TIP: Cut your dipping foods into bite-sized pieces – cubes, strips, sticks etc.
Finally, I feel obliged to mention that this melted beer cheese dip also doubles as a macaroni and cheese star ingredient. Instead of transferring it to a fondue pot, mix it with cooked elbow macaroni and voila!
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- 4 cups shredded cheese* (Gruyere, Emmenthaler, raclette, cheddar or other good melting cheese)
- 1/4 cup flour (substitute with corn starch)
- 1 cup flavorful, low bitterness beer**
- 1/3 cup heavy cream (fresh, at room temperature)
- grated garlic or onion (to taste, optional)
- fresh or dry herbs (to taste)
- In a bowl toss the grated cheese with the flour until well coated. Set aside.
- Add the beer to a cold small pot/deep sauce pan and bring it to low simmer over medium heat. (If you want to flavor with 1/2 tsp of grated garlic or 1 tsp of grated onion and/or any herbs (1/2 to 1 tsp) add them to the beer.)
- After the beer has simmered for a minute or two, add the heavy cream, stir and simmer for another couple of minutes.
- Remove from the heat and fold in the cheese, stirring gently and working in batches. You might need to place the pan back on the warm stove (turned off or very low heat) to help the melting along. Do not overheat it.
- Transfer to a heated fondue pot and serve***.
*Generally about 4 oz of semi-hard (good melting) cheese will yield 1 cup of shredded cheese. If you are using a combination of two cheeses (recommended) make sure you have at least 8 oz of each.
**For specific style suggestions consult the relevant section in the body of the post. We highly recommend Czech pilsner, Munich helles, American craft lager, bock.
***Have your dipping foods cut in bite-sized pieces and ready to serve ahead of time. If after awhile the cheese sauce begins to thicken in the fondue pot, add a tablespoon or two of cream and gently stir to thin it out.
Upon adding the heavy cream to the beer in the sauce pan it could curdle even though this is not common. Here is how to avoid curdling:
- Do not use beer that is too acidic, stick with the recommended styles in the body of this post.
- Be sure to use heavy cream as it has sufficient fat content and should not curdle.
- Be sure that the heavy cream is relatively fresh - as it sits some acid will begin to form in the cream which can cause curdling.
- Do not add the heavy cream to beer that is too hot - know the strength of your stove. Gentle simmer is all you need, do not allow the beer to start boiling.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 544Saturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 301mgCarbohydrates: 8.9gFiber: 0.2gSugar: 0.6gProtein: 34.3g