Labneh and Beer

Written by Damon on January 21, 2009

Labneh is a really simple middle-eastern yoghurt-based cheese. It’s really easy to make. You drop yoghurt into a hankerchief or coffee filter and let the whey drain off for a day or two. What’s left is labneh.

Tasting Labneh

Labneh tastes like cream cheese with a little yoghurt sourness. I expected it to be very sour, but a lot of the sourness drains off with the whey.

Labneh is used in all sorts of middle-eastern cuisine, but I wanted the labneh flavours featured against the beer. So I decided to serve the labneh with garlic and salt mixed in, sprinkled with cumin, oregano and marjoram, and served with tomatoes, Moroccan black olives, and freshly grilled flat bread.

labneh with Moroccan olives, tomatoes, and flatbread

Pairing Beer and Labneh

My choice of beers is Unibroue’s Maudite, a strong, red Belgian ale.

The match is excellent. The full-body and phenols balances the sourness of the labneh. The malt flavours blossom with the body, phenols, and sourness in balance only to be subplanted by the herb flavours from the labneh. Truly an excellent match.

The strong, full-bodied beer also holds its own against the Moroccan spiced olives. Maybe not perfect, but the beer withstands some very assertive flavours and almost complements them. A perfect match with the olives will probably not work with the labneh, so this is an excellent compromise.

Final Pairing Recommendations

I haven’t tried labneh with any other beers, but I expect it and olives to work well with tripels. A Belgian amber strong ale would also be a good match. I imagine the fruity-malt flavours of Duvel would work particularly well against the cream cheese and yoghurt flavours of Labneh and with the spicy Moroccan olives.

The labneh paired with any of these beers would make an excellent appetizer or snack for particularly honoured company.