by Cameron Correll
Winchester Traditions is a cooking series written by local resident Cameron Correll. Each recipe is inspired by the rich history of Clark County.
With Winchester’s Beer Cheese Week fast approaching (June 7-13), I thought it would be fitting to talk about the wonderful, creamy, and spicy goodness that got its start in Winchester, KY!
I remember Sunday lunch after church with my great-grandparents. We would join them at a local restaurant where we would enjoy fried catfish, banana peppers, and that great local classic — Beer Cheese. Swiping the spicy cheese onto a club cracker or celery stick was more enticing than the entree I had ordered. Even at seven years old, I had a refined palate. Any local will brag about their secret family recipe, mine included. My father sells tubs of his recipe, branded as Boone Ave Beer Cheese, to coworkers or as a coveted gift at Christmas. The history of Beer Cheese is as rich and personal to Winchester as the spread itself.
The true origin of beer cheese is hotly debated. One legend claims the cheese spread dates back to the 1930s at the Driftwood Inn, crafted by Chef Joe Allman alongside the Kentucky River. This snappy cheese was served as a snack with sliced veggies. Today’s version varies from a dip to a spread, served with pretzels, crudites, or atop a burger. To test various recipes, you can visit Winchester’s Beer Cheese Trail with thirteen stops at local restaurants and stores. The second Saturday in June typically boasts the annual beer Cheese Festival, where vendors from all over Kentucky compete for the coveted first-place award. With Covid-19 restrictions still lingering, they are having a smaller “Beer Cheese Shop” event on Friday, June 11th downtown Winchester. LEARN MORE HERE.
The recipe I am sharing pairs two of my favorites, soft pretzel bites and warm, creamy beer cheese. The Pull Apart Pretzel Skillet (featuring any beer cheese of your choice) can be found at https://www.bhg.com/recipe/pull-apart-pretzel-skillet/.