If you’ve spent any time in the Bluegrass State, chances are you’re already familiar with beer cheese. The boozy cousin of pimento cheese, it’s an addictive mash-up of spices, sharp cheddar, and—of course—beer that most likely originated in rural Clark County sometime in the mid-twentieth century. In Kentucky, you’ll find it plated with saltines and celery and spooned onto everything from pizza to spaghetti.
Further to the north, in the beer-and-dairy-rich Midwest, locals enjoy their beer cheese a different way: blended into a rich, viscous soup with serious warming power. As temperatures continue to plummet across the South, the pit masters at St. Simons, Georgia’s popular Southern Soul Barbeque are mixing up their own version. And rather than dose it with any of the craft beers in their arsenal, they pour in a dive bar staple. “PBR is a refreshing, American-style lager,” says co-owner Griffin Bufkin. “It doesn’t cloud the soup, and it doesn’t take over the soup. It just adds the perfect note.” For best results, serve this recipe with a loaf of crusty bread and a bottle of hot sauce.