The Kentucky Beer Cheese

LEGEND HAS IT THAT THIS ADDICTIVE SPREAD/DIP was created about a century ago in a Louisville saloon and served with crackers to any customer ordering a fivecent lager. Today in Kentucky, there are as many varieties of beer cheese as hot browns, some spread on crusty bread, crackers, and rye rounds, others used as dips for raw vegetable sticks. It can be made with all cheddar or a combination of cheeses, and each host or hostess has his or her favorite (and secret) seasonings. Since beer cheese keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week, I usually make it (like Pimento Cheese Spread, opposite) in large quantities, ready to serve at lastminute cocktail get-togethers or teas.

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1⁄2 pound extra-sharp aged cheddar cheese One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives 1⁄2 teaspoon dry mustard 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce Tabasco sauce to taste 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 cup lager beer Shred the cheddar finely into a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, and mash with a fork till well blended. Add the garlic, chives, dry mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and salt and beat with an electric mixer till well blended. Gradually add the beer, beating till the spread is smooth. (To transform the spread into a dip, beat in about 1 ⁄4 cup more beer.) Scrape into a crock, cover tightly, and chill overnight. Serve the spread with toast points, crackers, or rye rounds (or as a dip, with raw vegetable sticks).

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