I could say something about how It’s Almost Time for The Big Game! or something along those lines to encourage ya’ll to make this craft beer queso but let’s be honest, no game is needed for this to be a good eat. It can be a rainy Sunday afternoon, for example. Or a girls’ night or a way to use up one of the four blocks of cheese you bought all at once because it was on sale!
Whatever the reason, it’s established that it’s a good idea to make this. Something that I hate in recipes that call for beer though, is when it just says “beer”. That’s the most unhelpful and vague ingredient descriptor ever. It might as well call for “3/4 cup of plants”. Stop doing this, anyone who makes recipes that call for beer. Be specific!
There are more kinds of beer available than ever, from your lame domestics to hoppy IPAs, to fruit beers, to dark spiced ones and everything in between. You don’t want to put a barrel aged bourbon in this recipe. So to help narrow it down, I used a jalapeno pepper pale ale from Birdsong Brewing out of Charlotte, NC.
If you don’t have Birdsong, look for another beer brewed with peppers, and see what else it is brewed with. If it has lime or cilantro in it, those flavors may not meld well with the cheese. If possible, find a good craft beer shop and try to get a taste of the beer, or buy a single or two to give it a try before wasting any cheese.
This pale ale has a strong nose of green peppers, and a vague hint of spice, though the beer itself is not generally spicy because they removed the seeds (where the hot is) before adding it to their pale ale recipe. The slightly vegetal flavor of the peppers shines through without the pain of sometimes too-hot peppers.
Also, you’ll notice an extremely specialized ingredient below and yes it’s required, no there are no substitutions, so order it, or try to find it at a specialty kitchen store near you if you don’t love the convenience of Amazon.
Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale Queso
Adapted from Huffington Post
- 10 ounces cheese (I used 5 oz. of Monterrey jack and 5 oz. of sharp cheddar. Try pepper jack for a spicier hit)
- 1/2 cup Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale
- 1/2 teaspoon sodium citrate
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- Put the sodium citrate in the bottom of a saute pan. I used a 7 cup pan and it gave me plenty of stirring room.
- Pour beer into a 1/2 cup measuring cup and let the foam settle. Gently pour it over the sodium citrate, then turn the heat on to medium.
- Once the beer begins to simmer, add the cheese a handful at a time and begin to stir as it melts.
- Keep adding cheese til it is all incorporated and melted, and turn the heat down to low.
- Stir in any red pepper flakes as desired and remove from heat. Stir it again before decanting to a serving bowl or a small slow cooker to keep it warm and smooth.
- You’ll need to keep stirring occasionally even if it stays on the stove on a warm eye or in a slow cooker, as that’s the nature of the cheese.
- Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
Also … when is that Big Game?!