Ahwahnee Beer and Cheese Soup

A Taste of History: The Ahwahnee Hotel’s Beer & Cheese Soup

Nestled amidst the towering granite cliffs of Yosemite National Park, the Ahwahnee Hotel stands as a beacon of luxury and history. Recently, during my stay for the Vintners Holidays – a weekend of wine tasting with California’s top winemakers – I had the opportunity to experience the hotel’s culinary delights firsthand.

One dish that truly stood out was the Ahwahnee Hotel’s Beer & Cheese Soup. This rich and creamy soup, with its hint of hoppy bitterness and gooey cheese pull, was the epitome of winter comfort food.

The Ahwahnee Beer and Cheese Soup Recipe

As a food enthusiast, I couldn’t resist learning more about this iconic dish. Fortunately, during a tour of the hotel’s historic kitchen, I had the privilege of meeting Chef Percy Whatley. He graciously shared the Ahwahnee Hotel’s Beer & Cheese Soup recipe, allowing me to recreate this culinary masterpiece in my own home.

This recipe uses premium ingredients like Fiscalini bandage-wrapped cheddar for an unparalleled depth of flavor. However, feel free to substitute your favorite cheddar cheese for a delicious variation. To elevate the experience further, I highly recommend pairing the soup with homemade chive oil and fresh-made croutons. These additions add a touch of brightness and delightful crunch, making this soup truly irresistible.

So, gather your ingredients, watch the how-to video in this post, and get ready to embark on a culinary journey to Yosemite National Park, all from the comfort of your own kitchen!

Watch how to make this recipe!

Want to see this recipe come to life? Check out this video where I walk you through the entire process, step-by-step!

Gather your ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic puree
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese (Fiscalini bandage-wrapped cheddar recommended)
  • 12 ounces pale ale
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • Salt, to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

For the optional garnishes:

Tip: Feel free to adjust the amount of Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce to your desired level of tanginess.

How to Make the Ahwahnee Hotel Beer & Cheese Soup

  1. Crisp up the bacon: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel.
  2. Sauté the aromatics: Add the butter to the pot and melt it over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic puree and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Make the roux: Whisk in the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, to create a roux. This will help thicken the soup.
  4. Gradually add the broth: Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and cream, making sure to break up any lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Season and simmer: Add the bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt. Simmer for another 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  6. Welcome the cheese: Remove the bay leaves and gradually whisk in the shredded cheddar cheese until melted and incorporated.
  7. Hoppy infusion: Pour in the pale ale and stir gently. Bring the soup back to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to combine.
  8. Season to perfection: Season the soup with freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste.
  9. Serve and savor: Ladle the Ahwahnee Hotel’s Beer & Cheese Soup into bowls. Top with the reserved crispy bacon, a drizzle of homemade chive oil, and some freshly made croutons for the ultimate comfort food experience.

With its rich and creamy texture, complex flavors, and simple preparation, this Sierra Nevada Pale Ale & Fiscalini Farm Cheddar Cheese Soup is sure to become a staple in your winter comfort food repertoire. So, grab your loved ones, gather around the table, and enjoy a taste of Yosemite’s culinary history!

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Ahwahnee Beer and Cheddar Soup

Ahwahnee Hotel’s Beer & Cheese Soup

Recipe by Jason Hill – CookingSessions.com
This creamy beer and cheese soup recipe is a classic dish, dating back to Jolly Old England. This recipe uses a premium cheddar cheese such as Fiscalini bandage-wrapped cheddar, but you can substitute your favorite cheddar cheese. Top this with homemade chive oil and fresh-made croutons for the ultimate winter comfort food.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1/4 pound bacon diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic-shallot puree or 2-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 pound Fiscalini cheddar or your favorite cheddar, grated or diced
  • 12 ounce bottle of Sierra Nevada pale ale or your favorite pale ale
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • Salt to taste about 1 teaspoon
  • Croutons and chive oil for garnish


  • Chop semi-frozen bacon for easier prep.
  • Heat stock pot on medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Once it becomes crispy, add the butter, let melt, and then add the chopped onion.
  • Next, add garlic puree and stir about 3 minutes, until onions are soft. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. This will thicken the soup.
  • Cook down about 3 minutes, then add the chicken or vegetable broth, whisking in to prevent lumping.
  • Whisk in the heavy cream, then bring mixture to a boil. Drop in bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and mustard. Stir it up and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add the cubed cheese, a little bit at a time, whisking to incorporate it into the soup. You want it to melt down.
  • Finally, add the pale ale to the soup, slowly stirring.
  • Remove bay leaves, and add the salt and pepper to your taste.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with the chive oil and croutons.
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Keyword cheddar, croutons, soup, soups
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

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