At least 10 years ago, I first tried making homemade soft pretzels for this column.
They were messy, extremely tricky to knot and delicious.
Since that first foray into pretzel-making, I have made the recipe again several times, but I have always opted to make pretzel bites instead of going through the arduous process of knotting dough. It’s hard to have patience when you have freshly baked pretzels in your immediate future.
I made those pretzels again recently, but not just because I had a hankering for pretzels. Instead, I had what promised to be a delicious pub cheese recipe that I wanted to try, and what better way to enjoy a thick, tasty cheese dip than with a warm, homemade pretzel?
And let me tell you, this dip did not disappoint.
The recipe I tried comes from the blog “A Spicy Perspective” by Sommer Collier. You can find her original post at https://www.aspicyperspective.com/irish-pub-cheese/. I changed the amounts of several ingredients in my version below.
Irish Pub Cheese
- 16 ounces Irish or sharp cheddar shredded or block
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup Harp lager or another pale lager, like Heineken
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ground or spicy brown mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Place the cheddar into a food processor (break it into chunks first, if you’re using a block), and process until the cheese is in small crumbles.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Give it a taste and add ingredients as desired.
- Transfer the pub cheese to a bowl for serving and serve alongside pretzels, crackers or whatever else sounds good for dipping.
There is a pronounced beer flavor to this cheese dip, but it compliments the taste of the sharp cheese really, really well, so it’s definitely worth adding to the mix. I wouldn’t say a non-drinker would immediately be turned off by the flavors here, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re serving snacks to someone who has a major aversion to the flavor of beer.
You could easily use a non-alcoholic beer in this, too, if you’d rather. Heineken should be a good substitute for Harp’s, and they have a non-alcoholic version.
As I expected, this pub cheese paired great with some salty soft pretzels. It was also fantastic with good, old-fashioned crunchy pretzels, though. Honestly, you might be able to make cardboard taste good if you dip it in this (not that I’m advocating eating cardboard…).
And, if you’re wondering, I didn’t go for knotted pretzels for my snack table this time around, either. No one seemed to mind the lack of effort, though, as we demolished this bowl of dip with pretzel bites. It was still a huge crowd pleaser on the snack table, believe it or…knot.
This piece first appeared in print on April 13, 2023.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.