Munich's Oktoberfest is the world's largest fair with close to 6 million people attending over a 16 day period. When you think of Oktoberfest, naturally, you think of beer. And you should since Oktoberfest doesn't officially commence until the Mayor taps the first keg and declares "O'zapft is" - "it's tapped". While Oktoberfest ended this week in Munich, we are celebrating the German cultural festival all month long by enjoying our gourmet cheese with a stein of beer (Lederhosen optional).

Can I really drink beer with cheese? It may surprise you but beer may just be the superior beverage pairing with the dairy delight. Beer, like wine, has something in common with cheese. All of these products are pastoral and crafted using traditional methods that date back centuries. Wine, beer and cheese speak of a particular culture, a place and a time. The connection between beer and cheese is particularly strong since the animals milked for cheese ate the grains used for brewing beer. It's possible that your nose and palate may pick up similar flavor profiles. Putting aside their natural affinity, perhaps the most important reason to pair beer with cheese is that the carbonation and brisk qualities of beer refresh the mouth and wash away the tongue-coating richness of the cheese. Simply put, they taste good together.

Take a look at our favorite German-style beers that are readily available here in the United States and recommended cheese pairings. With one taste, you will be declaring "köstlich" (delicious)!

Wheat Beers aka Weizen or Weissbeir
You may recognize Hefeweizen on a beer list. Made with a large proportion of wheat and malted barley, wheat beers are lightly golden, sometimes cloudy, relatively low on hop bitterness and highly carbonated. Try Paulaner and Franziskaner.

Gourmet Cheese Pairing:

  • Fresh cheeses such as chevre (goat cheese), buffalo mozzarella and feta are not aged and offer tangy and milky flavors.
    Bloomy cheeses such as Brie or Pierre-Robert

Pale Lager
With its pale gold color and full-body flavor, Pale Lager is the most prolific beer style in the world. Serve Lowenbrau or Spaten.

Gourmet Cheese Pairings:

  • Cheeses with distinct aromas and flavors can stand up to the full-bodied taste of Pale Lager. Offer an earthy Camembert or a mushroomy Fontina on your cheese board.

Pilsner/Pilsener
One of the most popular beer styles, Pilsners have a robust flavor profile, are clear and dark gold in appearance. The hoppy bitterness is more pronounced. Pour Beck's or Radeberger.

Gourmet Cheese Pairing:

  • Hard, aged cheeses like cheddar, Gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano offer concentrated flavors that match the intensity of a Pilsner.
Author's Bio: 

Even though her passion for gourmet cheese was undying, Sara Kahn found shopping for it to be overwhelming, time consuming and confusing. She established The Cheese Ambassador to offer a simple way to select and serve cheese. Discover the robust selection of cheese gift baskets for gift giving and gourmet cheese for home entertaining.