The History Behind Cold Beer Cheese

A local author illuminates the delicious past and present of Central Kentucky’s chilled appetizers

Jan 30, 2018 11 AM

Not all beer cheese is created equal — or served at the same temperature. In Central Kentucky, the way they make their decadent app is a bit different than the process we use in the Queen City, but a local author says: If it’s not cold, it’s not traditional.

When the term “beer cheese” comes to mind, most people think of a hot dip paired with some type of salty chip, bread or soft pretzel — a gooey spread that combines and melts two of humanity’s favorite vices. But Central Kentucky beer cheese is served chilled and made with just four ingredients: cheddar cheese, garlic, cayenne pepper and, of course, beer.

Writer (and CityBeat freelancer) Garin Pirnia tells a story of authentic cold beer cheese in her recently published The Beer Cheese Book, which details the history of the cold dip, where it came from and why it’s so appetizing.

Pirnia, a Covington resident, fell in love with beer cheese while at Party Town in Florence, Ky. Confused yet intrigued by the cold spread, she had to try it.

“It was a pre-packaged spread made by Kentucky Beer Cheese, which is based near Lexington. I tried it and loved it,” she says.

Immediately impressed, she researched the decadent snack. Following the first taste of cold beer cheese, she attended The Beer Cheese Festival in Winchester, Ky., in 2014. Held each June, this festival is the only one in the world dedicated to the food.

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