Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese

It's late.  As usual.  I might as well just start posting late at night instead of trying to get a post done during the day. 

Anyway, excuses aside - I think I've finally done it.  I've successfully made a beer cheese that resembles a local favorite.

Andy and I grew up in southern Indiana (of course in different eras - we do have a 7 year gap between us!), but we both loved Sportstime Pizza - now under the name The New Albanian Brewery.  They, of course, have beer - great microbrews (one should definitely check them out during 'Gravity Head' where they feature high-alcohol content and special season beers).  But the main reason we frequented the place was for their beer cheese.  It's one of a kind - spicy, cheesy, and absolutely perfect with some breadsticks.

So when I told Andy last week that I was making some pretzel bites to snack on while watching a pre-season football game, he eagerly suggested I make a beer cheese to go with them.  Always up for a challenge, I accepted, and boy am I glad I did.  I think I came pretty close (dare I say, maybe even better??) to our old time favorite from The New Albanian.

So if you're looking for a great Sunday snack - football lovers and non-football lovers alike - this is it!

Adapted from Sunny Side Up in San Diego's Recipe

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 & 1/4 cups warm water
5 cups flour
1/4 cup white sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted and divided

1/2 cup baking soda
2 egg whites
Kosher salt, for topping

cooking spray

Beer Cheese:

1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup Indian Pale Ale (or whatever favorite beer you might have)
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup Velveeta, cut into small cubes (I swear I wanted to use some Chipotle Cheddar Cheese, but I'd run out, and this was all I had - but it worked out so well!)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper

In a measuring cup dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Set aside for 10 minutes. If the mixture is foamy, you're good to go - if not, start over with new yeast.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, white and brown sugars, and salt.  Pour the water/yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons melted butter into the bowl. Knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth. Add extra water if dough is too dry, until you get your desired texture.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Shape dough into a ball. Place the dough ball in the bowl, cover with a clean towel, and allow to rise for one hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of hot water and baking soda. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites and remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and then knead with hands for one minute. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and break off small chunks of dough - Roll the chunks into 1 inch diameter balls (I got about 20-25).

Dip the pieces in the baking soda water and place on the baking sheet.  Gently drying with a paper towel if they become too wet. Brush each pretzel ball with egg whites/melted butter then sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, until browned.

To make beer cheese, place cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 30 seconds.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in beer, horseradish sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.  Heat for another 30 seconds in the microwave.  Stir until smooth.  Add in Velveeta.  Heat another 30 seconds, and stir until cheese is melted and smooth. 

Pretzels and beer cheese.  Success at last!  And this beer cheese was so easy to whip up, that I will definitely be finding myself making it many many times over!  Even with Velveeta - I'm not ashamed!

Have a great weekend guys!  I just have to get through one more late shift at work and I've got 2 days of relaxation ahead of me!


  1. The cheese sauce is a great finger food idea. Hope that no-one double-dip this yummy sauce :p

  2. Oh my word! I want to DRINK that beer cheese! :D

  3. I am completely alien to Beer cheese but nice to go with the pretzels, very creative.

  4. i don't drink beer,but make me want to try with cheese,,,sound good together with pretzel :)

  5. My hubby will go Ga Ga over these beer cheese :-)

    Hamaree Rasoi

  6. Congrats on your culinary victory! I also grew up in Indiana, but the northern part.

  7. have I never heard of beer cheese! I recently had a cheese that was made with irish whiskey (and that was good), but I'll put beer cheese on my list!

  8. Looks and sounds fantastic; a keeper.

  9. Beer cheese...sounds really interesting. I love it.

  10. The cheese sauce looks delicious!

  11. Perfect fall food! I don't think anyone could say no to beer cheese! I know I wouldn't!

  12. Mmm! That sounds so good. I love cheesy dip. Never had it with a beer kick though, bet its awesome!

  13. delicious peggy! perfect football food. I love the beer cheese idea with the chipotle cheddar, yum. happy weekend :)

  14. Oh, wow, those look great!

    MMmmm beer cheese...

  15. I've never had beer cheese before, and now my life suddenly feels incomplete without it... I must make a batch of this ASAP! This sounds like a fabulous game-day snack.

  16. I love beer cheese dip but for some reason have never made it. This sound sooooo good. Wish I had some for the football game today.

  17. Hello football season! This is a perfect appetizer, a must-bookmark! Thanks Peggy, this sounds so delicious.

  18. Yours look great! These are a staple for all of our football parties, so I'm really glad you liked them!

  19. Yum! I must make some pretzel bites!

  20. My sweet husband would float up to heaven! Thanks for sharing such a yummy treat, my friend. I hope you are doing well and enjoying your weekend. I'm eating graham crackers and about to go to sleep. Perfect in my book! Much love.

  21. pretzels & cheese were made for each other, oh and beer.. I must be in heaven! These will be great for football watching :)

  22. This looks amazing! I LOVE it when you can duplicate a recipe!

  23. I was looking at your bread photos at the bottom of your post (in the "You Might Also Like" section) and was thinking: Yup, I'd like beer cheese on that. And that, too. And that... :)

  24. i'm hungry now. and ohhh beer cheeseeeeee. o.O

  25. Great snack food!! And good job for being able to duplicate your cheese beer dip. Don’t you just love it when you can make your favorite dish at home.

  26. I honestly had no idea what beer cheese was but I clicked on your picture from foodgawker just because these looked so good. I love pretzels and to have this kind of delicious cheese with them just sounds amazing. I've never liked a lot of salt on pretzels but cheese.... YES!

  27. Beer Cheese?? Now, u got my attention, Peggy! What an interesting concoction! Love it!

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  28. This are def what we needed while watching football yesterday. ;)

  29. this is definitely one good game snack.. those cute pretzel bites and beer cheese.. hell yeah!
    Richa @ Hobby And More Food Blog

  30. I love everything pretzel. And everything beer. Yup. I love pretzel dogs with a good dark beer, a favorite meal on days I feel like spending time cooking--you know, rather than throwing together some leftover :D

  31. I've never had beer cheese - but omg do I want to try some! We don't watch football, but we can pretend if it gets some of this in front of me!

  32. We live in Southern IN and love Richo's!! Their breadsticks are the best. I cannot wait to try this recipe out and see how it compares.

  33. So funny! I went searching for this recipe because we are also fans of Sportstime! We moved 5 months ago to Chicago and are having withdrawls! We have not found ANY beer cheese or any pizza as delicious as Richo's! Thanks!

  34. Your site is wonderful. I’m so satisfied to have discovered you.I appreciate to this one.
    digit emb

  35. What do you mean by horseradish sauce - jarred horseradish, creamy horseradish (mayo based)?

  36. Thanks for writing this very useful information you have provided for me cheers!

  37. I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this

  38. Had to send the recipe to everyone. They loved it and I loved it because it was so good and easy!

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  39. Wow i can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.. Beer Garden Table



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