When you need to host a party on short notice, a simple wine and cheese combo is a classic for a reason: It just works.

But sometimes we get a little tired of the typical spread and want to shake things up a bit. When that mood strikes, we turn to another tasty beverage: beer.

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The cool crispness of a great beer is a wonderful complement to a savoury fine cheese. And with the craft beer movement taking off across the country, there is no shortage of unique options to round out your palate.

To help you get started, here’s a simple guide to Canada’s best cheeses and the types of beer you should pair them with.

Cheese: Aged Gouda – Glasgow Glen Farm
Beer: Brown Ale
Glasgow Glen Farm is one of P.E.I.’s only artisanal cheesemakers and they’re known far and wide for their Gouda. The farm produces 15 different varieties, but our pick would be the aged Gouda. The sharp nutty flavour is a great match for a bold, hoppy beer like a brown ale.

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Cheese: Gruyere – Sylvan Star
Beer: White
This award-winning Gruyere is produced in the heart of Alberta by Sylvan Star in Red Deer. It’s made without additives, antibiotics, or lactose, so it’s a cheese you can feel good about. To really enhance the cheese’s creamy sweetness, go with a crisp and citrusy white beer.

Cheese: Bleu Claire – Little Qualicum Cheeseworks
Beer: Dark
Hailing from the cool, coastal climate of Vancouver Island, this savoury, salty cheese really only gets better with age. Firm and crumbly, a bold blue like Bleu Claire needs a weighty beer to balance it out. The roasted malt of a rich stout melds well with this cheese’s distinctive tangy flavour.

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Cheese: Smoked Cheddar – Les P’tits Victoria
Beer: Lager
This firm cheese is smoked using natural maple and its woodsy aroma would be the perfect match for a summer backyard party. Pair this pick with a hearty Canadian lager – the maltiness of the beer will bring out the Cheddar’s subtle hazelnut notes.

Cheese: Brie – Albert’s Leap
Beer: Red
It’s hard to resist the melt-in-your-mouth, buttery flavour of a fine Brie and this one from Ontario-based Albert’s Leap is no different. The caramel tones of a red beer blend beautifully with the Brie’s creamy texture to create a winning combination.

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Cheese: Feta – Jolly Farmer
Beer: Wheat
Cheese doesn’t get much fresher than the kind from Jolly Farmer. The New Brunswick farm’s cheese is made with milk straight from their own herd of Brown Swiss cows. Their delicious Feta is sharp and salty, so pick a wheat beer or a pilsner – its light acidity counters the salt and brings out the cheese’s sweeter undertones.

Cheese: Mozzarella Fior di Latte – Quality Cheese Inc. – Bella Casara
Beer: Dark
This traditional Italian cheese gets its name (Fior di Latte means “milk’s flower”) and velvety flavour from its signature ingredient: full cream cow’s milk. A light pilsner marries well with the delicate flavour of this fresh cheese, but we think pairing it with a dark beer is much more fun. The strong chocolate notes of a full-bodied lager provide a delightful contrast to Mozzarella’s light sweetness.

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