How to make pub cheese + suggestions for tweaks to suit your taste.
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What is Pub Cheese and How Did It Get Its Name?
Pub cheese is a cold beer cheese dip with a spread like consistency. It consists of cheese blended with ale or lager and a variety of flavor contributing condiments, spices and herbs. Most commonly served with crackers and veggie sticks it is a quintessential American pub grub.
The roots of this popular delicacy are in New England. It is widely accepted that similarly to Kentucky beer cheese it was invented to encourage patrons in pubs and bars alike to order more beer, hence the name. It is a classic bar snack, just like pickled eggs.
What is the Best Pub Cheese?
The best pub cheese has a soft, creamy consistency and a good balance of flavors (which is of course a highly subjective notion).
Because it is a delicacy popular across the country there are many pub cheese brands – numerous delis and grocery stores have their own house made versions.
Truth be told – the best one is the one you like the most. There are hundreds of recipes out there, most of them quite similar and given how easy it is to make and customize you have no reason not to experiment and create your own favorite.
Typical Pub Cheese Ingredients
- Cheese. Cheddar is the traditional choice and we use it here – it’s rich, piquant flavor partners with beer to form a glorious flavor relationship (also at the core of Wisconsin style beer cheese soup). You can substitute with Colby, Jack even Gouda.
- Spreadable cheese. Cream cheese adds a velvety softness to the dip, we also add some spreadable cheese (or a bit of sour cream).
- Beer. Lagers and ales with malty backbone and herbal hops notes are desirable, as well as sweetish bocks, brown ales, porters or stouts. Nothing too creative – beer like a citrusy IPA or a strawberry conditioned kolsch for example make poor contenders. Classic choices are American lagers, Czech Pilsner or German pils.
- Herbs and Spices. This recipe calls for finely chopped fresh chives, sweet paprika (it also deepens the color of the dip), black pepper and a bit of sea salt.
- Other flavoring agents. Prepared horseradish, Dijon mustard, a clove of garlic, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce (omit if you do not want a spicy taste). Sometimes if using a strongly hopped pilsner we add a tablespoon of maple syrup – it neutralizes the bitterness while the herbal notes remain strong.
How to Make Pub Style Cheese Dip
Step 1. Place cheeses (shredded cheddar, cream cheese and if using spreadable cheese) and the chopped garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor and blend until combined.
Step 2. Add all the flavorings – except for the sea salt and chives. Process again to combine.
Step 3. Add the beer while processing until it is nicely incorporated.
NOTE: If the beer you are using is highly carbonated it is helpful to first pour it into a glass and let the initial foaming subside – the beer will be easier to measure out.
Step 4. Finally, transfer the mixture to a bowl, taste and fold in sea salt as needed and the chives. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
NOTE: You must fold the chopped chives at the end so that the dip does not turn green/unappetizing off color if they get blended in.
Ways to Enjoy Pub Cheese
Even though primarily a dip, you can use it a spread and slather it on toast (topped with avocado), burger buns, add a dollop over grilled chicken (or chicken sandwiches too), make tiny cracker sandwiches with it, fold it into mashed potatoes (seriously tasty) and so much more.
Small mason jars of homemade pub cheese make a great hostess gift around the holidays. Or add to one such jar a box of crackers and a 6-pack and give as a Father’s day treat.
- Smoked Pub Cheese. Obviously you can use smoked cheese, but if you really wanted to enhance the smokey flavors consider using Rauchbier or smoked paprika or liquid smoke – all are good options.
- Irish Pub Cheese Version. Our recommendation is to use Irish cheddar and Guinness for true Irish flavors. If your goal is a green colored beer cheese, you might want to use green cheese or fresh herbs and perhaps a drop or two of food coloring and blend them into the dip.
- Pub Cheese with Jalapenos. Finely chop pickled or fresh jalapenos and fold them into the dip after you’ve processed it.
Other Dips You Might Like
- 3 cups shredded cheddar*
- 2-3 oz cream cheese
- 2 pieces spreadable cheese such as Laughing Cow (or increase cream cheese by 2 oz or add 2 oz sour cream)
- 1 clove garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 2/3 cup beer**
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (or to taste)
- 1 tsp hot sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tsp prepared horseradish (or to taste)
- 1 tsp sweet paprika + a pinch to sprinkle over dip
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp finely cut fresh chives + 1 tsp more to sprinkle over dip
- In the bowl of a food processor add the shredded cheddar, cream cheese, spreadable cheese (or substitute) and roughly chopped garlic clove. Process until combined.
- Add all the other ingredients except for the beer, salt and chives. Process and while processing slowly add the beer while monitoring the consistency (do not add it all if the dip is becoming runny).
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed and add salt as needed. Fold in the chives, cover and refrigerate.
- Serve garnished with a pinch of paprika and chives and accompanied by crackers, bread sticks and/or veggie sticks.
*Grating your own cheddar block is recommended - fresher taste and easier to blend with the rest of the ingredients.
**Look for styles with solid malty backbone and herbal hoppy notes (Pilsners or American lagers) or sweetish bocks, brown ales, porters or stouts. If the beer is really carbonated let the foam dissipate first - it will be easier to measure out. NOTE : You do not need to use flat beer, plus fresh beer will taste much better in this type of dip.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 12g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 60mg Sodium: 705mg Carbohydrates: 4g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 2g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 10g