If the idea of dunking pretzels into a flavorful beer cheese dip makes you happy then you’ll also love our beer cheese dip popcorn recipe.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of beer cheese but are intrigued because you love beer and you love cheese then you’ll also love our recipe. So, what exactly is beer cheese? It’s a creamy dip made with beer and cheese, not an actual type of cheese although we’d probably buy it if it was.
This cheese spread is mostly commonly known in Kentucky where it likely originated in the 1940 and where you can find several different brands for sale in the grocery store. For those of us in other states, however, there are plenty of homemade recipes with delicious variations.
Commercial versions start with a base of processed cheese, usually with a cheddar flavor and so most home recipes also begin with a sharp cheddar. Other ingredients can include garlic, mustard, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, spices like smoked paprika or cayenne pepper and, of course, the beer. Whether you like it mild or hot is up to you but beer cheese, in general, a strongly flavored dip.
We like to add a second cheese to ours for a more complex flavor. Any good, hard, melting cheese will work but we’re partial to smoked gouda. It adds a great taste and melts well. Plus the extra bit of smokiness works in the dip.
The addition of beer is not surprising because alcohol, in general, activates our taste and smell receptors. Therefore, cooking with it enhances flavor and enjoyment. If you think of the white wine that’s typically added to risotto or the red wine in beef stews then the beer makes sense. What type of beer you use is entirely based on what you like to drink. Generally, a German style lager works well because it has a deep flavor. But pale ales will give you a lovely mellow flavor.
Traditionally, beer cheese is served with soft pretzels although it lends itself to any dippable treat. Crackers and veggies like carrot and celery sticks go perfectly with this on a cheese board. But, we never forget about our favorite treat – popcorn!
You obviously can’t let the popcorn sit too long if you pour the dip over it but if you slather it on just as you’re getting ready to eat, it’s wonderful. Or, give everyone their own personal dish of the dip and a big heap of popcorn so they can dip as they eat.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the minced garlic. Cook for about a minute until it becomes fragrant. Add the all-purpose flour and whisk for about a minute, until you have a thick paste.
Slowly whisk in the whole milk followed by the beer, Dijon mustard, salt and ground black pepper.
Stir in the cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses and continue whisking, on low heat, for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.
Stir in the chopped chives and pour into a serving dish. Serve with pretzels and popcorn.
Store any leftovers in a covered dish in the refrigerator and microwave to reheat before serving again.
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