Why It Works
- Dijon, Worcestershire, and hot sauce round out the savory sharpness of the cheddar and mild bitterness from the beer.
- Cornstarch stabilizes the emulsion, resulting in a glossy and smooth sauce that doesn't separate.
On a recent trip to Houston, I found myself at Anvil Bar & Refuge downing one of the finest cocktails known to man, Pliney's Tonic—that's gin, lime, cucumber, mint, and habañero. After one too many of these, I needed some sustenance and ordered their gigantic pretzel with beer cheese. I don't know if it was the alcohol or not, but at that moment, I thought that beer cheese was freaking amazing. After finishing one plate and another drink, I couldn't help but get another pretzel and cheese combo.
That night had a lasting impact on me, and I felt a strong desire to make a batch of beer cheese at home. I started the recipe similar to Kenji's cheese sauce, with cornstarch-coated cheddar and evaporated milk. Beer is a huge new component here; wanting to add flavor and not just volume, I chose a nice nutty brown ale to serve as a base. The sauce was still missing something, though, so I kept building with Dijon, Worcestershire, and a little Texas Pete. Finally I had a sauce as incredible as what I remembered from that one drunken evening.
The sharpness of the cheddar was complemented by a slight bitterness from the brown ale that made the sauce very distinct. The other ingredients gave it a robustness that was otherwise missing. A soft pretzel straight out of the oven seems like the most perfect pairing, but I'm sure anything you wish to dip in this sauce will come out delicious.
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer, preferably brown ale
5 ounces evaporated milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Kosher salt, to taste
Toss cheese with cornstarch in a medium bowl; set aside.
Whisk together beer, milk, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until gently steaming, whisking frequently to prevent scorching.
When beer mixture is warm, add cheese, stirring until completely melted, bubbling slightly, and thickened. Stir in hot sauce and season with salt to taste; serve immediately.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 11g||14%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||30%|
|Total Carbohydrate 4g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|