Transformation has been afoot at the tenured Schooner Brewing, formerly Schooner Exact, in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood, with an ownership change earlier this year and an investment in the expansion of the brewpub’s restaurant space, resulting in an all-new food menu focused around the beers themselves. Taking beloved beer classics and putting her own spin on them, many of Chef Amanda Heins’ recipes involve a Schooner beer as the base, like the sumptuous beer cheese dip.

“We use our Schooner Lite Lager in the recipe because anything hoppier would make the dish bitter,” Heins says. “The carbonation in the beer helps the dip get nice and light when it’s heated, and the little bit of sweetness in the beer balances well with the habañero jack [cheese] that we put in it.” 

The ultimate pub grub, Heins says the idea for this dish came from a simple version she enjoyed at a birthday party where the host used a Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet, cream cheese and light beer. “I immediately thought this dip would be 100 percent better with fresh herbs, some shredded spicy cheese, more beer and some sour cream to give it tartness and help soften it up a little bit,” she adds. “We also use this dip as a spread on some of our sandwiches. It adds a nice boost in flavor especially in our Philly sandwich called the ‘Illadelphia’.”

A note from Heins: This recipe is easiest in a stand-up mixer with a paddle attachment, or a bowl with an electric hand mixer, but will also work with a big bowl and a large wood spoon. And finally, pair with the same beer your cooking with, or another light, refreshing beer.

Schooner Brewing Beer Cheese Dip
Serves 15-20, approximately 1 quart

3 cups cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup lager
1 cup shredded, spicy cheese, such as habañero Monterey Jack
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
3 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 ounce fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400° F. For extra creamy dip let the cream cheese sit out at room temp for 30-60 minutes before preparing to soften.

Begin by mixing the cream cheese on medium speed until most lumps are gone, then add in the sour cream and mix until fully incorporated. Slowly pour in the beer while the mixer is on low speed, being sure not to add too quickly.

Next add in the cheese and mix for a couple of minutes until combined. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Put dip in oven safe dish and bake 7-10 minutes, until nice and browned on top. Let cool and enjoy.