Beer cheese (spread)
A container of Kentucky Beer Cheese brand spread
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|Processed cheese or sharp cheddar cheese, beer, garlic, spices (dry mustard, horseradish and cayenne pepper)|
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Beer cheese is a cheese spread most commonly found in Kentucky. Similar spreads can be found in other regions of the United States, but beer cheese itself is not widely distributed. Despite this fact, the spread is nearly ubiquitous in Kentucky. There are a number of different brands that are popular, including Hall's, Kentucky Beer Cheese and others - most are similar in taste and texture. Fans of the snack usually have their "favorite" brand, and there are many homemade versions which use a wide variety of ingredients to add personalization.
Commercially produced beer cheese usually consists of a processed cheese base with a sharp cheddar flavor, while homemade varieties almost always start with sharp cheddar cheese. To this, enough beer is added to provide flavor and texture, as well as garlic, and a variety of spices including dry mustard, horseradish and cayenne pepper. Most varieties come in "mild" and "hot" versions, but all tend to have a strong garlic flavor. Beer cheese is traditionally served with saltine crackers, though it can be found served with various other crackers and crudités, most often as an appetizer.
While there are conflicting stories about beer cheese's origins, it appears to have first been served in the 1940s at a restaurant in Clark County, Kentucky known as Johnny Allman's. The owner of the restaurant, John Allman, credited the invention of the cheese dip to his cousin, Joe Allman, a chef in Phoenix, Arizona. Joe's Southwestern influence is said by some to explain the spread's spicy nature.