Of all the things that people thought couldn’t be vegan AND good, I imagine beer cheese is pretty high on the list. That’s why I’m happy to report that this beer cheese is gooey, rich in beer flavor (and beer for that matter), stringy, lightly smoky, and intensely cheesy. I daresay it’s undetectably vegan too… although, I am indeed vegan, so there’s no way I can really say that with 100% confidence.
When it comes to this recipe, the quality of cheese and beer you use have a profound impact on the final outcome.
Let’s start with the beer. For one, you want to use a beer that has a full body, because in the end we want a creamy texture, so this rules out any and every light beer out there. Sorry, no skimping on calories or alcohol content today. Second off, we’ve got to use a flavor that compliments or elevates the other flavors in the sauce, which would be smoky, buttery, and savoy. While IPAs are all the rage, they’ll only make your beer cheese taste like bitter orange rind – bleh. Instead, go with a beer that’s hearty, somewhere in the medium-dark range, and not too sweet but not entirely dry. While their are several beers that could work here, I reached for my favorite beer: Belgian Tripel, particularly one with an alcohol content of 9%. This beer will cut through all of other ingredients without being obnoxiously prominent on your palate.
(And yes, La Fin Du Monde is vegan friendly!)
The other crucial element here is cheese, which varies vastly in textures, aromas, and flavors – vegan or not. Right off the bat, you don’t want to use mozzarella, parmesan, or American-style cheeses as they simply won’t led the flavor you’re looking for. What you do want to look for here are cheddar and provolone. Unfortunately, the hunt doesn’t stop there, because every brand of vegan cheese functions differently under heat, which is because unlike actual cheese, there’s no set formula on how to make vegan cheeses. Because of this, some brands work better for different things, but what we’re really concerned about today is: does it melt?
Luckily, we’ve narrowed down the results for you: VioLife and Daiya are excellent melting cheeses, but you want to stay away from Follow Your Heart and SoDelicious for this application, as they don’t melt as well (not there’s anything wrong with either of these brands). The good news is that Daiya offers cheddar and VioLife offers a mature cheddar and a smoked provolone, which is what we used for it’s smoky elements and melty abilities.
A side note on VioLife: they’re a Greek brand who’s actually been selling to American restaurants for a couple years now, but it wasn’t until this year that they started to sell their products in stores such as Whole Foods. And man, I’m stoked that they did because their products are BOMB. They melt phenomenally, have spot-on flavors, and don’t have that chemically flavor that repels people away from other vegan cheeses. If you can find their products, try them out.
Now, beer cheese is great, but it’s kinda hard to eat without something to dip into it. Traditionally, lightly toasted pumpernickel rye bread is the dipping fodder of choice, and for good reason – it’s unique flavors compliment the beer-iness (can I say that?) and it absorbs the sauce wonderfully. However, we’ve always gotta be extra, which is why we made crispy fingerling potato slices for dipping! To make them, you clean some fingerling potatoes, slice them about 1/8 inch thick, soak them in cold water to pull out excess starch, fry them at a low temperature to cook them through, then fry them at a high temperature to create a crisp, golden brown crust. Is it traditional? Nah, but the potatoes’ crisp is a delightful contrast when paired with the gooey beer cheese.
We hope you guys dig this beer cheese as much as we do, it’s:
- Tangy, savory, yeasty, and lightly smoky
- Melty, gooey, and rich
- an Easy & 1-pot dish
- The best dang Vegan Beer Cheese out there
If you like what your tastebuds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth and Eat Beer,
Vegan Belgian Tripel Beer Cheese
Stringy and complex cheese sauce aromatic with yeasty Belgian Tripel and smoky vegan provolone.
- 6 oz Belgian Tripel (strong Belgian beer)
- 4 oz unsweetened soy milk*
- 2 tsps tapioca starch
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce (Tapatio or Tabasco are good)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 c nutritional yeast
- 3 oz vegan smoked provolone or cheddar (VioLife or Daiya melt best), ripped into small pieces
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
Crispy Potato Slices
- 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes
- 1/2 gal refined oil for frying
- Beer Cheese: In a mason jar or personal-sized blender, shake or blend together all of the beer cheese ingredients except for the nutritional yeast. It will be foamy but that’s okay.
- Transfer mixture to a medium pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil whisking constantly. Turn heat to medium-low and whisk in butter. Then, slowly whisk in nutritional yeast. Finally, add in the cheese a couple pieces at a time, stirring each in before adding the next round.
- Place on a lid and let it sit for 5 minutes, which allows the cheese to melt. Remove the lid and stir to ensure all of the cheese is melted; it should be lightly stringy, silky, and smooth. If it’s too thick, stir in a splash more of beer and soy milk until it’s the proper consistency.
- Enjoy while fresh with pumpernickel rye bread, crispy potato slices (recipe down below), or whatever else you feel like dipping in it! Store any leftovers in an airtight container up to three days. Reheat in a small pot over medium heat with a splash of soy milk to loosen it up.
- Potatoes: If you’re pairing the beer cheese with crispy potatoes slices, start by cutting your fingerling potatoes into long slices about 1/8 inch thick; you want them thicker than a potato chip but thinner than a shoestring fry.
- Place potato slices in a large container and cover them completely with cold water. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and store in fridge for at least 6 hours and up to 16 hours. This step removes excess starch, which makes the slices WWAAAYYY better, trust!
- Drain out the water and spread potatoes out between paper towels to remove any surface-level water. Place 1/2 gal of oil – refined coconut and soybean oil fry well – into a heavy pot or dutch oven. Snap on a candy thermometer, boost heat to high, and bring to 325° F, being sure to maintain that temperature carefully throughout the process.
- Set up an oil draining rig next to your dutch oven by placing a cooling rack on top of an upside cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels in between.
- Once you’ve reached temperature, drop a handful of potato slices (about 1/4 of them) into the fryer and cook for 3 minutes. Use a spider to transfer them to your draining rack. Repeat until all of them are blanched (4 batches in total).
- Boost heat to high and bring oil to 375° F. Fry your potatoes in 4 batches until they’re golden brown; about 2 1/2 minutes per batch. Transfer them to the draining rig and sprinkle generously with salt. Enjoy while hot with beer cheese!
*It’s best to use a soy milk without any added ingredients; i.e. the only ingredients should be soybeans and water. Eden and WestSoy sell versions like this in the shelf-stable plant-milk section at many grocery markets.