By John Garland
Once you become enamored with Wisconsin aged cheddar, there’s no going back. You’ll become wrapped up in the stories of those artisans, and begin to identify with them like you would an artist or musical act.
Their work becomes canon, as you rattle off producers and ages the way a Scotch aficionado would list their favorite single malts. (I’ve got some Widmer’s 6-year, or how about Carr Valley 10-year? You know, I might just break out the Hook’s 15-year just for you.)
Add one more to our pantheon of favorites with Blue Mont Bandaged Cheddar. Lindsay Coleman from Surdyk’s gives us the run-down: “It is made by Willi Lehner in Wisconsin, with certified organic milk from pastured-only cows. It is then aged in an underground cave that Willi designed and built on his wind and solar powered farm. The cheese is aged for up to 2 years, and it’s perfect! It smells of earth, has a dense texture, plus many complex flavors with notes of cedar, hazelnuts, toast and caramel.”
It’s truly a remarkable cheese. With the short aging time, there’s none of that crystalline crunchiness you get with a lot of older cheddars. Rather, it’s a uniform, dense cheese with a powerful woody baseline. Any ale with some sweetness (nothing too hoppy and dry) is going to be great with this cheese.
So we thought to give it a go with the Hitachino Nest Dai Dai IPA, a beer brewed with the addition of wild mandarin orange rind. The nuttiness of the cheese gives a platform for the IPA’s honey/orange notes to sparkle. Any brown or red ale with some caramel notes would also do well; the Blue Mont would be a versatile addition to your next cheese platter.
Because beer and cheese are pretty much the two greatest things on the planet, Beer/Cheese will attempt to pair the two and tell a story in the process. Pick up today’s pairing at Surdyk’s.