Beer Cheese Faceoff

In preparation for a beer potluck, I decided to try some of the recipes I've been saving that incorporate beer as an ingredient. The first of these is the simple beer cheese. You can use beer in your fridge that has been sitting around, leftover from not finishing the bottle, or just any beer you feel like trying flavor-wise. The orange-ness of the beer dip (thanks to the cheddar) also makes it an appropriate one for this Halloween time period.

Hidden Valley Beer Cheese Dip

This first one is courtesy of Hidden Valley, and is a recipe easily found on the internet but which I will repeat here. It normally will yield 24 ounces of dip total, enough for 6 people, but I increased and altered the recipe because I wanted higher yield for more people. I also used sour cream when increasing the recipe to give it more of a softer smoother consistency for actual dipping of soft pretzels and potato chips than cream cheese alone would have given. But, I did not increase the amount of mix in the recipe, trusting the beer to add enough flavor along with the original lower yield amount of Ranch mix.


  • 2 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese (I picked specifically Neufchatel Cream Cheese both because it is softer and less fat)
  • 1 16 ounce container of light sour cream or tofu “sour cream"
  • 3 cups freshly finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 package of Hidden Valley Original Ranch mix
  • 1/2-3/4 bottle of 12 ounce beer, based on desired taste/consistency
  • Optional: chopped green onions and bacon bits for garnish. I only used green onions, about 1/8 cup full.

 The steps are easy enough:


  1. Combine cheddar cheese and cream cheese and sour cream and dip mix in a large bowl. Mix.
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  3. Gradually stir in beer to desired consistency and taste. I happened to go with Kona Brewing Longboard Lager
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  5. Chill in fridge at least overnight- the flavors improve with time, so can even wait 24 hours…
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  7. Garnish optionally with the chopped green onions, bacon bits, a bit more sprinkle of cheese as desired. Serve with pretzels, crackers or vegetables. You can serve this hot or chilled.

Wynkoop Brewing's Beer Cheese Spread

In the other corner is a Beer Cheese Spread courtesy of Wynkoop Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado but which I got the recipe thanks to a Cooking with Homebrew article by Daria Labinsky at Brew Your Own, a homebrew magazine. The yield here of this recipe is 24 ounces.


  • 6 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 12 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated finely and fresh (I used X-sharp cheddar, not white)
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed – but I didn't have any and instead used ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 cup any full-bodied ale can be used. Its strong flavor can enough to stand up to the biggest, hoppiest beers, even a barley wine


  1. Combine all ingredients except beer in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer. Mix or blend until everything is well incorporated.
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  3. Slowly add beer while processor or mixer is running. I used some Longboard Lager… but I had also drank from the bottle a bit, so then I switched it out to a beer that had come in a Sam Adams Seasonal Sampler pack that I didn't think was special enough to need to savor on its own, the Sam Adams Boston Lager.
  4. Place mixture into a crock or serving bowl, and chill for at least 2 hours. You can serve this heated or cold, but if served cold I recommend letting it sit for a little bit to soften. This is a spread so is really chunky and thick (at least the way I had it, room temperature/chilled), and great for spreading on bread- not for dipping- as long as it's not so hard that you are tearing your soft fresh bread.
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So how did these two do? Well first of all, I have to say this was a ridiculous night of making these. My cheap blender couldn't handle the thickness of the cream cheese. Meanwhile, my Ninja Mixer blades didn't turn anymore when I put the motor on top because the plastic parts had worn down too much. And my Kitchenaid mixer only works for a certain amount of time before the motor burns out and it has to take a nap for 30 min.

That explains a bit why in some of the pictures, you see everything being moved from container to container. After working out with weights earlier in the day, and then shredding all that cheese, my arm was not loving all the hand mixing. It was frustrating but in retrospect comedic how all the mixing mechanisms I had in the kitchen failed all in one night.

As mentioned, the beer dip is a softer consistency, so is great for literal dipping of chips, pretzels, etc as it will not break the "vehicle for cheese" so seems more versatile than the spread. However, the beer spread definitely has much more depth in flavor thanks to the 3 cheeses and hint of heat, even if you need to use a utensil to spread it on the baguette slices.
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In terms of highlighting the beer ingredient, the beer spread has a flavor that overpowers a light beer- if I make it again I would definitely use a much darker, stronger tasting beer than a lager. The beer dip though worked perfectly with the Longboard Lager, and I can definitely taste the beer woven in the flavor, I think partially because of the reduced ratio of the Hidden Ranch in the recipe (which I found a bit salty at the original recipe's ratio for my taste), and because the (tofu) sour cream adds just a bit of light flavor that would have been too heavy if I had only used cream cheese.

The cheesiness of the beer spread is very high, if you are a cheese lover, and it has a nice tang from the mix of cheeses. Though, dipping is an easier party gathering option than spreading (which requires a utenstil, rather than a carb vehicle for dipping). The beer dip list of ingredients is definitely a better value pricewise as part of your grocery bill, as well as a value in making more for a crowd. Also keep in mind if not everyone likes blue cheese, the beer dip may be a safer bet.



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