Written by John Wurth
Beer cheese is what most Kentuckians think of when you mention beer and cooking in the same sentence. Since this site is Kentucky-based, where beer cheese was invented, I’ve consented and I’m putting together this two-part series. Part 1 (you’re already here) is a list of places in Metro Louisville to enjoy some beer cheese, and part two will be 2 different beer cheese recipes.
Wikipedia tells us:
Beer cheese is a cheese spread most commonly found in Kentucky. Similar spreads can be found in other regions of the United States, but beer cheese itself is not widely distributed. Despite this fact, the spread is nearly ubiquitous in Kentucky. There are a number of different brands that are popular, including Hall’s, Kentucky Beer Cheese and others – most are similar in taste and texture. Fans of the snack usually have their “favorite” brand, and there are many homemade versions which use a wide variety of ingredients to add personalization.
Beer cheese works with so many different vehicles to get it to your mouth: Pretzels (hard or soft), Ritz crackers, Triscuits, saltines, kettle chips (Against the Grain-style), breadsticks and great as toppings on your burger, hot dogs or breakfast cereal. It works on so many different levels.
Several restaurants in the Louisville area serve their own version of beer cheese, and they’re all a bit different:
Against the Grain
Another non-standard beer cheese, served with a non-standard dipping utensil: house-made kettle chips. It’s made with their own beer (obviously) and smoked Gouda cheese. Get some.
401 E Main St. | Louisville, KY 40202 | (502) 515-0174 | Website
I really love the pretzels they serve this with. They almost taste like deep-fried soft pretzels. You could dip these in mud and they’d be delicious. That’s not on the menu, so I’d go with their beer cheese. It’s pretty spicy and goes great with any of the beers they have on tap. Win/Win!
St. Matthews | 3929 Shelbyville Rd. | (502) 899-7070 | Website
4th Street (Theater Square) | 1 Theater Square | (502) 568-2224
3rd & Main | 300 W Main Street | (502) 562-0007
I was here with my partner-in-crime, Scott Lykins, and he made fun of me for licking out the container. It was that damn good. I don’t regret it either, Lykins. You’re just mad that I got to it first.
107 Larrimore Ln | Danville, KY 40422 | (859) 209-4211 | Website
Boombozz Taphouse – Highlands
Their beer cheese reminds me of queso instead of typical beer cheese. It’s served with hot buttery pretzels (that could almost stand on their own). Served warm and thin.
1448 Bardstown Rd. | Louisville, KY 40204 | (502) 458-8889 | Website
Spicy beer cheese made with one of the many craft beers they keep on tap. Served with soft warm pretzels.
707 West Riverside Drive | Jeffersonville, IN 47130 | 812-284-2919 | Website
3020 Bardstown Road | Louisville, KY 40205 | 502-456-6680
Four Pegs Beer Lounge
Served with two not-very-salty large pretzels (More of a breadstick, really), this beer cheese makes up in the salt department for a perfect combination. It’s not as spicy as some. I order this almost every time I’m there.
1053 Goss Ave | Louisville, KY 40217 | (502) 634-1447 | Website
Pretty much everything at this place is worth a letter back to mom. The beer cheese is no exception. Served with amazing pretzel bread. I can’t wait to see what they do with their new place, Game (Set to open Feb. 12 at 2295 Lexington Road, Louisville, Kentucky).
921 Swan St | Louisville, KY 40204 | (502) 365-1112 | Website
New Albanian Pizza Co. (AKA: Rich O’s, Sportstime Pizza)
If you haven’t had the beer cheese over at NABC Pizzeria, you haven’t lived. Super spicy, served warm with pretzels, but you can also order as a dipping sauce for their awesome breadsticks. The best in the area, I think. I found their alleged recipe online and that’s what I’ve based my beer cheese recipe on, but according to Mr. Baylor, the recipe online is missing a key ingredient.
415 Bank St | New Albany, IN 47150 | (812) 725-9585 | Website
Rocky’s Sub Pub
Served with soft, warm breadsticks and made with one of their many craft beers on tap.
715 W Riverside Dr | Jeffersonville, IN 47130 | (812) 282-3844 | Website
If you haven’t had the huge Bavarian pretzel at River City Drafthouse, finish reading this paragraph and get down there. Tell them John sent you. This thing’s as big as a damn dinner plate. Buttery, filled with kosher salt and served with an amazing spicy brown mustard, you can also get it with beer cheese. The pretzel’s so damned good, I hardly remember the beer cheese.
1574 Bardstown Rd | Louisville, KY 40205 | (502) 690-5111 | Website
Zeppelin Cafe (R.I.P.)
Soon to be the new home of Beer Engine (see their mini-review above). If any neighborhood should know how to pair beer and cheese, it’s Germantown. Their beer cheese came with large pretzels and was amazing from what I recall…been too long <sniff>. Beer Engine’s beer cheese will be a great replacement, I suppose.
PLACES YET TO TRY:
Believe it or not, there is beer cheese that I haven’t had. I know! I need to get busy. Keep checking back to see reviews for these places, or better yet, leave a comment and do my work for me!
This is one of those places that I kick myself for not going to. Kick me. I know. I’ve heard the beer cheese is amazing.
I’ve heard good things…
If anyone knows cheese (or cheeze), it’s these guys. Theirs is made with Pabst Blue Ribbon and is called The Pabst Smear. Yes. Really.
Made with Guiness (What else? This is in “Little Ireland” in the Highlands), I have read some great reviews online.
Troll Pub Under the Bridge
Pre-packaged Beer Cheeses:
There’s a lot of information about the origins of beer cheese I’ve come across online. I don’t mind where it came from, as long as there are plenty of varieties to choose from. Can’t we all just get along? Here’s how I understand it.
The ORIGINAL beer cheese recipe, hailing from the restaurant, Johnnie Allman’s (no longer around) on the Kentucky River in Boonesborough, Kentucky (between Richmond and Winchester, Kentucky – Southeast of Lexington). This is the original recipe, from Joe Allman, and this is now packaged by his family and available only around Central Kentucky. Available in Regular or Hot (you know what I prefer by now, I hope). Both varieties are great.
Bill’s Famous Spreads
Not beer cheese, but still amazing! This is also served at Cafe Lou Lou. Superb! Two varieties – Regular and HOT. This is always my favorite food booths at Brew at the Zoo. They recognize me every year.
Another “ORIGINAL” beer cheese recipe from the Hall’s on the River restaurant in Boonesborough, KY. Not sure if this is the “real” recipe or not. Sources online varied. The story I’ve heard is an ex-Allman’s employee left and went to work for Hall’s (which was across the street) and brought this recipe with him. There should be a movie made about the dramas of beer cheese in Central Kentucky. Still, a great beer cheese, no matter where it came from.
Yet another ORIGINAL Allman’s recipe. I haven’t had this one firsthand. Maybe I should get a hold of all these and have a panel of judges to find the best packaged beer cheese from Central Kentucky.
Another one I haven’t tried. I need more time to research…
Next time you’re on your way to a get-together, stop by Valu-Market and pick up a 6-pack (or growler!) of craft beer from their amazing selection, and be sure to grab a tub of their house-made beer cheese on your way out. Two varieties: Regular and Hot. My philosophy: Always go with hot. The regular is nice and garlic-ey, still delicious. Great with a bag of pretzels – Don’t forget those.
Put your recipes in the comments, or leave a comment on a place I might have missed. Share your love for beer and cheese…together at last!On to Part Two – Beer Cheese Recipes