Beer-Washed Cheese Recipe

Photo from Adobe Stock/barkstudio

Washed-rind cheeses have a natural dichotomy: They smell stinky but often taste sweet, yeasty, and only faintly funky. I first got into this style of cheesemaking because of my love for beer. What better cheese to pair with a beer than one washed with the same beer? The interesting twist is that these cheeses come from the monastic tradition of production. Abbey ales and Trappist-style beers were produced by nuns and monks, as were many washed-rind cheeses. The meditative and repetitive process behind these products lend themselves perfectly to monastic life, and I like believing that there’s some spiritual benefit to consuming a beer-washed cheese.

From Milk to Cheese: 10 hours plus 3 days to make, 14 days plus 4 weeks to age
Yield: 2 (8-ounce) wheels


  • Large stockpot
  • Thermometer with at least a 5-inch stem
  • 13-inch stainless steel flat perforated ladle
  • Curd knife with a 12-inch blade
  • 2 cheese forms (4 to 6 inches in diameter and 6 inches high)
  • Cheesecloth, cut to approximately 1 square foot
  • Cooling rack
  • Baking sheet
  • Large draining mat


  • 2 gallons whole cow’s milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon mesophilic lactic acid starter culture (Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris, Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis)
  • Pinch Brevibacterium linens
  • Pinch Geotrichum candidum
  • 1/4 teaspoon animal or microbial rennet dissolved in
  • 1/4 cup cool, non-chlorinated water (or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet)
  • Coarse non-iodized salt
  • 12 ounces Abbey ale

Beer pairing: The best beer to pair with a beer-washed cheese is the same one you used to wash the cheese.
Wine pairing: Slightly oxidized white wine from the Jura, such as Arbois or Chardonnay, or off-dry Riesling

Photo from Adobe Stock/OSCAR


  1. WARM THE MILK: In a stockpot, heat the milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in a warm water bath.
  2. CULTURE THE MILK: Add the cultures and let them hydrate on the surface for a minute. Then, gently stir for 1 to 2 minutes until incorporated. Cover the pot and let rest for 1 hour, maintaining a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the rest period.
  3. COAGULATE: Add the rennet and stir with an up and down motion for 30 seconds. Let rest for 30 minutes, maintaining a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the rest period.
  4. CUT THE CURD: Cut the curd into 3/4-inch-thick pieces using the straight and angled technique. Stir the curd slowly for 5 minutes. Maintaining a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, let the curds rest for 45 minutes, stirring periodically.
  5. DRAIN THE CURD: Line the forms with cheesecloth and place on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Transfer the curd to the forms. Turn the curd in the forms after 10 minutes and then again after 30 minutes. Let the curds continue to drain for 45 minutes.
  6. PRESS THE CHEESE: Press the cheese lightly, with about half as much weight as the curd weighs, for 3 hours. Flip and repeat for another 3 hours at room temperature (70 degrees Fahrenheit to 74 degrees Fahrenheit).
  7. SALT AND DRY THE CHEESE: Remove the cheesecloth and weigh the cheeses. Sprinkle salt on each formed cheese, using 2% of the cheese weight in salt for each cheese. Let rest for 3 days, keeping a cooler room temperature (68 degrees Fahrenheit) and 80% humidity.
  8. AGE THE CHEESE: Transfer the cheese to a cooler, higher-humidity environment of 58 degrees Fahrenheit and 95% humidity, and let the cheese age on a draining mat for 14 days. Rub gently with the beer every other day. Be sure to flip the cheese when rubbing with the beer so that it develops evenly on each side. Wrap the cheese in crystal cheese paper or wax paper. Store at refrigerator temperature and flip the cheese daily, continuing to age the cheese for 4 weeks.
    Note: I recommend using an Abbey (or Trappist-style) ale to wash this cheese. The strong flavor and alcohol content create a good environment for rind development.

Storage: This cheese can be stored, uncut, for up to 2 weeks after aging. Once cut, the cheese should be consumed within 2 to 3 days.

Also from The Beginner’s Guide to Cheesemaking:

The Beginner’s Guide to Cheese Making is an ideal introduction to making cheese at home. Filled with simple advice and straightforward recipes, this book makes it easy for you to start crafting your own scrumptious cheeses. No experience needed. Want to customize your cheeses? Discover the best ways to experiment with recipes and change up your creations. You’ll also find suggestions for the best beer and wine pairings. Learn how your homemade cheese can become the essential ingredient in savory snack, meal, and dessert recipes. Become the cheese master (who never has to settle for store-bought) with The Beginner’s Guide to Cheese Making.

Reprinted with permission from The Beginner’s Guide to Cheesemaking by Elena R. Santogade and published by Rockridge Press, 2017. 

Published on Jul 9, 2019


Inspiration for edible alchemy.