Cooking with Barleywine: Deconstructed Grilled Cheese with Toast Points

Here’s one to keep in mind for the cooler days ahead: a fondue-like cheese dish that gets a splash of barleywine and is sure to help keep you warm.

Christopher Cina Sep 10, 2023 - 3 min read

Cooking with Barleywine: Deconstructed Grilled Cheese with Toast Points Primary Image

Photo: Christopher Cina


  • 2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs (30 ml) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) barleywine
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 oz (170 g) Emmi Swiss Cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbs (30 ml) green onion, minced
  • 6 slices Texas toast/brioche loaf
  • 4 Tbs (59 ml) butter, melted
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges

In a small saucepan, melt the 2 Tbs (30 ml) of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook just until it begins to turn white. Add the flour to the pan and stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture becomes a paste. Add the beer and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Add the milk and stir constantly again until the mixture thickens. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the salt.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese until smooth. Add the minced green onion. Keep the cheese sauce warm until the toast is made.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Brush the bread slices on both sides with the 4 Tbs (59 ml) of melted butter. Toast the bread on both sides on the skillet surface. Remove the toasted bread from the skillet and cut into “fingers.”

Pour the warm cheese sauce into a bowl and serve with the toast fingers alongside. Garnish the plate with the fresh tomato wedges.

Beer Tasting Notes: Here’s a comforting dish to warm you in winter, as the deepest, richest beer style in the canon adds Maillard depth to this simple but unusual toast-and-cheese preparation that evokes Welsh rarebit or fondue. The barleywine may contribute caramel, berry-like fruit, bourbon, and a comforting touch of alcohol depth to the cheese sauce. As a pairing, it may work—barleywine loves cheese, and vice versa—but you might be better off saving the snifter of ale for dessert.

Beer Suggestions: Firestone Walker Sucaba (Paso Robles, California), Pelican Mother of All Storms (Pacific City, Oregon), Perennial Vermilion (St. Louis), De Dochter van de Korenaar L’Ensemble (Baarle-Hertog, Antwerp, Belgium), or any local favorite or cellar treasure you’re ready to crack open.