Pretzels and crackers were bathed in a variety of beer cheeses Sunday before entering the mouths of hundreds and being washed down with craft beer.
Country Boy Brewing’s fourth annual beer cheese contest was part of Lexington’s Craft Beer Week, a national celebration of craft brewers. Beer cheese fans could sample a variety of beer cheeses and then pay $7 to cast a vote for their favorite cheese.
Beer cheese, a common find throughout Kentucky, often consists of sharp cheddar cheese, beer, salt and garlic. Some local communities also celebrate the cheese, such as Winchester, which holds an annual Beer Cheese Festival.
About 50 professionals and amateurs had their creamy creations on display and ready to sample. One of the contestants was Steven Riddle, who was accompanied by his 15-month-old son Louis.
Riddle prepared a beer cheese that used a Country Boy’s Living Proof beer, cheddar cheese, cherries and fresh herbs. Riddle said he “winged” his recipe and noted the cheese was a littler lumpier than the standard smooth variety.
Another participant was Julie Herman. She and her husband, Ben, presented a beer cheese made of Country Boy’s Golden Stout beer and several different cheeses, including sharp cheddar cheese, and hot sauce.
“Last year, we used a Rum Barrel Nate’s Coffee Stout,” Julie said. “Which was really good.”
Jess Estridge, from Lancaster, is a fan of beer cheese and it was his first time at the event. Estridge said his favorite beer cheeses included Riddle’s.
“There’s a lot of spicy ones that I like a lot,” he said.
Estridge said he did not define himself as a beer cheese “connoisseur,” but noted the spread has a wide variety.
“There’s a million different beers you can stick in there and a million different kind of cheeses to stick in (there),” he said.
About $4,500 was raised for the event. Lexington Diner won the professional division and Rifle City won the amateurs division. The money will go to Old Friends, a retirement farm for Thoroughbreds in Georgetown.
Country Boy also recently opened a new facility in Georgetown.