Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 29, 2013

Beer cheese

Winchester seeks to spread the word about this spread product

The Independent

ASHLAND — Leaders in Winchester hope to turn beer cheese into a tourist attraction. In fact, the Beer Cheese Trail has been created to promote the sale of beer cheese products in Winchester.

The Beer Cheese Trail will allow people to visit city businesses to learn about tourism and sample the city’s favorite snack. Beer cheese is a cheese spread most commonly found in Kentucky. Similar spreads can be found in other regions of the United States, but beer cheese itself is not widely distributed.  But it is popular here in Kentucky, and the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly approved House Bill 54 declaring Winchester the official birthplace of beer cheese.

Winchester-Clark County Tourism then began constructing a trail around Winchester to familiarize residents and visitors with the best local beer cheese products. The trail features the participating businesses and their unique beer cheese products. Some of those products include a beer cheeseburger, beer cheese soup or a dip that comes straight from the container with crackers and pretzels.

Participants will follow the trail outlined on cheese “logs.” Each business will stamp the logs after the purchase of a beer cheese product. After all five locations are visited, participants can go to the tourism office and receive a T-shirt. The trail is self-guided and the stops can be in any order.

Many brands are popular, including Hall’s, Kentucky Beer Cheese and others. Most are similar in taste and texture. Fans of the snack usually have their favorite brand and there are many homemade versions which use a wide variety of ingredients to add personal touch.

Commercially produced beer cheese usually consists of a processed cheese base with a sharp cheddar flavor, while homemade varieties almost always start with sharp cheddar cheese. To this, enough beer is added to provide flavor and texture, as well as garlic and a variety of spices, including dry mustard, horseradish and cayenne pepper.

Nancy Turner, executive director of the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission, said she wants to promote locations where beer cheese is sold. “Beer cheese makes us unique and we wanted to capitalize on our heritage with (the Beer Cheese Trail),” Turner said. “We want to get feedback from beer cheese lovers.”

Winchester already is famous as the home of Ale 8, the soft drink that is available only in parts of Kentucky; some travelers from distant states routinely stop in Winchester to buy it in volume. Who knows? Maybe those same people will buy some beer cheese while in Kentucky and wash it down with a cold Ale 8.