A savory beer cheese dip combining the flavors of sharp cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses and infused with the crisp essence of a strong ale.
Kim and I used to live in a small town in Northwest Arkansas. From time to time, we used to frequent a brewery just minutes from downtown. They specialized in strong craft beers and fantastic bar food. From chicken wings to pretzels, they had you covered. While I tended to gravitate towards the beer and chicken wing combination, Kim preferred cocktails and dips.
In spite of our different tastes, we both could agree their beer cheese dip was phenomenal. They served it with a side of house-made tortilla chips. Our savory beer cheese dip was inspired by that restaurant’s appetizer.
Savory Beer Cheese Dip Tips:
Making a cheese dip can seem intimidating at first glance. A successful dish must be full of flavor and smooth and creamy. Furthermore, the dip has to be thin enough, so it doesn’t break the chip, but no so runny that falls right back into the bowl. In spite of the perceived challenges, a simple cheese dip recipe is possible to prepare. You just have to keep a few things in mind when starting the process.
For example, try making a bechamel first as your base for the cheese sauce. This traditional French white sauce improves your chances of creating a smooth texture. With that being said, you still have to avoid overheating the bechamel, or it will break. When I am heating the sauce, I don’t let it come to a boil. I only heat the mixture until I see light streamers of steam. Once it reaches that stage, I reduce the heat to its lowest setting.
Another tip is to add the cheese slowly to the bechamel while constantly whisking the liquid. If you start to feel cheese sticking to the bottom of the pan, don’t add anymore shredded cheese to the sauce. The last little tip is to taste your bechamel before you add the cheese. You do this to get the flavor profile (buttery and rich) and to ensure the texture is correct (smooth and creamy). Once you master these little tips, your cheese sauces will improve exponentially. If this is your first attempt at a cheese dip or if you don’t drink, go ahead and try it without the beer. Either way, I think you will be pleased with the results.
Step one is to melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Next, add the flour and whisk the mixture to combine them together. Then cook the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes. The reason the ingredients need to cook for that long is so the flour is properly cooked, and you don’t end up with a raw flour taste in the sauce. After the 3 to 4 minutes has passed, slowly add the beer. Then add the mustard, garlic powder, and chipotle paste while continuing to whisk the concoction.
For a truly smooth dip, ensure all the flour is combined and that there are no lumps. Continue to cook the ingredients for 6-8 minutes or until all the alcohol is cooked out of the beer. Afterward, add the half and half to create the bechamel. It is important to continue whisking the sauce throughout this process. Heat the bechamel until it begins to steam, but do not let it boil or it will break. At this point, you can taste the white sauce to make sure it’s satisfactory.
Once the sauce is steaming, reduce the heat and begin to add the cheese in small quantities at a time. No more than a handful of cheese should be added at once. Whisk the bechamel after adding each bit of cheese and allow the cheese to melt. Continue this process until all the cheese is incorporated. Now comes the tricky part. Go ahead and let the cheese heat and cook until the dip reaches your desired thickness.
Taste it again and add salt if needed. However, the cheese may have enough sodium to flavor the dip without the addition of more table salt. If it is too thick, you can add more half and half to thin it out. Once you have the texture you want, garnish it with paprika, cayenne pepper, or jalapenos and serve immediately. You may store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Used in the Recipe:
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Cups half and half
- 1/2 Cup beer
- 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Teaspoon Chipotle paste
- 8 Ounces sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 4 Ounces Monterrey Jack cheese (shredded)
- Salt to taste
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add the flour and whisk to combine.
Cook for 3-4 minutes to cook out any raw flour flavor.
Slowly pour in the beer, mustard, garlic powder, and chipotle paste while continuing to whisk.
Ensure that all the flour is combined and that there are no lumps. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until the alcohol is cooked out of the beer.
Add the half and half while whisking to mix with the beer mixture. Heat just until the half and half begins to steam but not boil.
A little bit at a time, add the cheese.
Whisk after adding each bit of cheese and allow the cheese to melt. Continue the process until all the cheese is incorporated.
Continue to stir and heat until the cheese dip reaches desired thickness.
If it is too thick, add more half and half to thin it out.
Salt to taste.
Garnish with paprika, cayenne pepper, or jalapenos.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.