Throughout my tenure in Knoxville, I have gathered a few menu items that I would be devastated to give up. My list includes: The Tempura Roll at Nama, The Eggplant Nicole at Altruda’s, The Paprika Chicken from Linderhof and the Shrimp and Grits from Rouxbarb.
This is the food I would travel back for, the delectable tastes that evoke a slightly orgasmic moan after each bite and leave you hungry for more. These are the distinctively Knoxville restaurants assisting in the development of a wonderfully original food scene in our little town.
In addition, one more menu item stands out among the few and I place this apart from the others as this was my first ‘taste’ of Knoxville – the very first mouthful of something so original and delicious it forever imbedded itself as, what I consider, a Knoxville treasure. This item is the beer cheese at Downtown Grill and Brewery.
Beer cheese was certainly not invented in Knoxville and from what I’ve gathered in comes in countless colors, forms, and flavors. But my first taste was at the brewery and I have yet to find another that compares.
You know I love me some cheese and let’s be realistic here, any half drunk shmuck can dump some beer in some cheese and it’s more or less guaranteed to be at least halfway decent. It’s beer and cheese for God’s sake – the world’s most perfect food and beverage. But not anyone can re-create the smooth, off-white creaminess of the slightly hoppy slurry that this All-American combination contains. Well, lucky for the world, because I’ve put a lot of time and energy into developing a comparable recipe, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t taste exactly the same.
Not to be confused with those food detectives analyzing Coke’s secret formula and the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices – it really wasn’t all that hard. It was more of a trial and error effort which was no effort at all really as I was able to eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of beer in the process. If that’s not a win-win situation, I don’t know what is.
The greatest and most wonderful part about it? It’s so easy. Like, so, SO, easy. So easy in fact I find myself hesitating to share it as my “secret beer cheese recipe” could potentially make me famous. I could be the next big chain: Sassy Swan Beer Cheese, INC. Alas, J does not find this to be a lucrative business endeavor so begrudgingly share it, I will.
Difficulty: So easy a monkey could do it
Yields: 1.5 cups
- 10 oz. Easy Melt white cheese (I used Velveeta Queso Blanco)
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1/8 cup beer (I used an IPA – the hoppier the better)
- Salt if desired
2.Remove the cheese mixture from the heat and add the beer.
4. Add salt if you wish – I did not.
5. Serve warm
You can serve beer cheese with pretty much anything. DG&B serves there’s with my accompaniment of choice – soft pretzels and honey mustard. The saltiness and softness of the pretzel combined with the sweetness of the mustard add dimensions of flavor to the beer cheese that I can’t get enough of. Another restaurant in town with comparable beer cheese, Calhoun’s, serves theirs with tortilla chips. I’ve had it with pretzel sticks, crackers, and vegetables trust me – it’s all good. So enjoy friends, go make it immediately and enjoy a little bit of Knoxville for yourself.