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Mountain Abbey Ale Mac & Cheese

About 7 months ago, my good friend Kate had called to discuss Blue Moon’s Holiday variety pack and a complete Holiday Meal to go along with the sampler of beer. During the discussion of building the meal, I had brought up the idea of using one of the beers in the recipe for a version of mac and cheese. Kate and the team were pretty enthusiastic about the idea, but it wasn’t the right fit for the Holiday Meal. So, the idea was tabled but not forgotten. About two months ago, there was a call for another Winter Abbey Ale recipe. I referred to some of my notes and saw that this was the beer I was going to use for the mac and cheese. This was easily approved and excitement on both sides was building. Over some drinks with the team in Chicago, I brought up the discussion of which cheeses might pair well with the beer.

Cheese and Beer pairings are becoming more and more popular and a number of San Francisco restaurants are offering this idea as well as usingĀ beer in cheese based dishes. The Winter Abbey Ale has some great nutty flavors along with dark roasted malts, which invites a number of different cheeses to the recipe. Cheddar, Gruyere, Fontina, American, and Swiss were all discussed heavily. But, I wanted something a little different. After trying the beer a second time, my mind moved towards a creamy, nutty cheese. I landed on Gouda. When it came time to create the recipe, I ended up with three different cheeses; New York White Cheddar, Fontina and Gouda. I thought this was a pretty solid mix, and would work well with the flavors of the beer. The fun part would be seeing how the beer would fit in with all of the other flavors going into the dish. I started with bacon (I mean, let’s be serious, you can’t have mac n cheese without bacon!) and shallots, and let those cook down until the fat was rendered and the bacon was crispy. Here is where I used the beer. I deglazed the pan with about a cup of Winter Abbey Ale, along with a large tablespoon of Dijon mustard. It was smelling great, and the consistency of the mixture was perfect. The cheeses, cream and some seasonings were added and stirred until smooth and then mixed with the al dente pasta.

The anticipation was growing, beer was poured, and the smells emanating out of the oven were fantastic. Finally it was ready. I smiled as my guests dug in and were serving themselves heaping portions. The mac and cheese was superb. At first bite you can taste all the wonderful cheesiness and salty bacon. The great part was after a few bites and long tasting chews, I could definitely taste the beer. The subtle bitterness that comes from hops, and the roasted malt flavors were shining through. A wonderful flavor enhanced by the cheese. Look out wine, beer and cheese are here to stay!


Preheat oven to 400* Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 pound of Macaroni to the pot. Follow cooking instructions on the box to cook “Al Dente,” should be about 6 minutes. Strain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside until the cheese mixture is ready. In a separate pot, cook bacon pieces on medium to high heat. Once the bacon is almost cooked to crispy, add the shallots in. Cook the bacon and shallot mixture until the shallots become translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the WAA and Dijon mustard. Then add the cream and all your cheeses, stirring slowly to incorporate and melt all the cheese. Cook over low to medium until all the cheese is melted together. Season the cheese mixture with the white pepper and salt. In an oven safe baking dish, transfer the cooked macaroni and spread evenly. Then add the melted cheese mixture, fully mixing and incorporating it with the pasta. Top with bread crumbs, and place into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown.