Summer changing over to fall ushers in the most wonderful time of year for beer, with Oktoberfest styles hitting the shelves that are malty and bready and perfect for those cooler evenings. Jack’s Abby released a ‘Fest with the Best’ mixed pack this year – the perfect way to toast Oktoberfest season with four distinct lager styles for you, your friends, and your family to enjoy anywhere and everywhere.
As hearty comfort food season also begins, I think about rich stews, soups, and one-pot dishes to warm the soul and share with loved ones. There isn’t much more comforting than a big bowl of Beer Cheese Soup. It can be made with varying styles of beer and cheese so it’s a fun blank canvas to work with. I took inspiration for this recipe from Jack’s Fest with the Best mixed pack and used their ‘Munich Fest’ lager as the base of this delicious soup. As beer cheese soups typically call for a lighter style, I decided to add some smoked gouda cheese to the mix for added depth of flavor.
To top it off – what could be more Oktoberfest appropriate than dressing the soup with soft pretzel croutons that are crisp and melt in your mouth buttery all at the same time?
A couple helpful tips for the recipe:
- Make sure your liquid ingredients and cheese are all room temperature before you add them
- Buy a block cheese and shred it yourself, pre-shredded won’t melt down the way you need it to for this soup
- If you want to make a vegetarian-friendly version – the bacon is optional & you can sub out vegetable broth for chicken broth
- Mustard and smoked paprika are my secret seasonings to really amp the flavor up
Enjoy the recipe below, and happy Fest season!
One yellow onion, diced into small pieces
Four strips of bacon – I used smoked bacon for added flavor depth
Minced garlic, about four cloves worth
Four tablespoons of butter
¼ cup flour
One can Jack’s Abby Munich Fest (Or another Jack’s Abby lager in the Fest with the Best pack)
Two cups chicken broth
One cup of heavy cream
Two cups of shredded cheese – I used extra sharp cheddar and smoked gouda
One teaspoon mustard – stone ground or german
Optional – couple dashes of smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
Chives for garnish
Soft pretzel bites – Pretzilla makes great ones, or any you can find
Let’s Get Cooking!:
- First things first, crack open your favorite Jack’s Abby (fest) lager to enjoy while you cook!
- Using a large pasta or soup pot with a sturdy bottom, add bacon and let the fat render out on medium heat about 6-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a plate once crispy and reserve the fat in the pot.
- Add the diced onions, mustard, salt & pepper to the bacon fat. Let the onions cook down about 8-10 minutes, constantly stirring to make sure they don’t stick.
- Add butter to the pot and mix with the onions, then sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to incorporate – you’re in essence creating a roux and want to make sure the flour is cooked out.
- Beer time! Pour your can of Munich Fest over the onions, stirring constantly, this will start to thicken up after a few minutes. Then add your other liquids with the broth first, and then cream. Stir together to incorporate and let come to a low simmer – about 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat from medium to low, and start to stir in your cheese in handfuls, making sure to let it all smooth out in the soup base. This is where I checked seasoning and added some smoked paprika and more salt and pepper to taste.
- Once your cheese is all incorporated, let this soup simmer while you get started on your pretzel croutons!
- For the pretzel croutons, cut up your soft pretzel bites into quarter/bite-sized pieces and melt just about a half stick of butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the pretzel pieces and a touch of mustard to the pan, some garlic, and toast for about 5-6 minutes. You want the pretzel croutons to be crisp on the outside but soft and buttery on the inside.
- Last step? Chop up some chives for garnish!
- Ladle your beer cheese soup into a bowl, top with pretzel croutons and chives, and crack open your choice of Jack’s Abby lager to enjoy with this delicious soup. Prost!
Allo Gilinsky is a lager lover, and Certified Cicerone®. Pairing beer with food is a passion of his, and he finds that cooking with beer is a great way to enhance a recipe. His love of lagers brought him to collaborate with Jack’s Abby on several other blog posts including his Copper Legend Mac and Cheese recipe. Allo curates a blog and social media presence under the Craft Beer Concierge handle exploring the world of craft beer through his own eyes.