The Kentucky Derby has been at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY since 1875 (that’s 147 years!). On Derby Day, it’s tradition for patron’s to wear huge colorful hats while singing “My Old Kentucky Home ” and savoring Mint Juleps. With all the traditions comes something new at Churchill Downs; last year Blue Moon became the official “craft beer” of Churchill Downs. Since the Derby is just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to do some cheese pairings with Blue Moon.
First, let’s talk more about Blue Moon wheat beers (or witbier, which is Flemish for white beer). Right now, you can find the Blue Moon Belgian White, LightSky and Mango Wheat at your local Schnucks. Blue Moon Belgian White is brewed in the traditional Belgian witbier style with citrus and coriander. This beer is a great summer time beer as its light fresh flavor and citrus notes are perfect on a hot day watching horse races from your favorite racetrack infield.
With Blue Moon’s light, sweet, citrus qualities we need to stick with younger, fresh cheeses to make sure we do not over power the beer. A good rule of thumb is the lighter the drink (wheat beers, Prosecco), the lighter the cheese (feta, mozzarella, goat cheese). After trying about 10 different cheeses, here are the results.
The lemony tang of this goat cheese from Malone, Wisconsin pairs perfectly with the citrus notes of Blue Moon and the sweet honey gives a finish of an adult creamsicle. I like sweet, so this was my favorite pairing.
Monterey Jack is another mild cheese that pairs well with witbier. M&T Farms is a hidden gem just about an hour outside of St. Louis in Owensville, Missouri. Jersey Jack is a bit firmer than your traditional Monterey Jack cheese and has a fresh buttery flavor that complements the fresh citrus notes of the Blue Moon.
Goat Milk Feta is salty with a hint of citrus. Feta is usually found paired in salads or pasta with tomatoes (thanks TikTok) because it balances the acidity of the tomato with the salty sharp flavor of the feta. When pairing Blue Moon with the Laclare Feta, I got a great balance of salt with a bit of bitter finish. Really nice!
If you’re building a charcuterie, be sure to have fresh fruits, pickled vegetables and nuts to balance out the flavors. Light beer, like Blue Moon, pairs well with fresh cheeses like goat, mozzarella and feta, but there are no right or wrong combinations. If you like a pairing, it is a good pairing.
Enjoy the Derby and stay cheesy!