Cheese and beer with friends on the patio—is there a better way to celebrate Dairy Month on a breezy June day?! I’ll leave it up to you to track down some guests, but here are a few small batch, local cheeses (and some beer pairings) that have been sparking interesting conversations around cheese plates lately.
Singing Hills Goat Dairy is Minnesota’s goat farm darling on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook. Lynne Reeck and Kate Wall operate Singing Hills Goat Dairy, a 25-acre farm in Nerstrand, where they’re raising Nubian, Alpine, and Saanan goats and crafting fresh, artisan goat cheese. Creamy and mild, the brine on their slabs of feta-style goat cheese compliments rather than dominates the milky flavor of the cheese. And their fresh curds are soft, slightly salty, and squeaky between your teeth. For a homerun, try their feta piled on a rosemary, parsley, and garlic seasoned lamb burger and wash it down with an American Pale Ale like the World Beer Championship winning Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale. You can find Singing Hills’ cheeses at Mill City, Fulton, or Kingfield Farmers’ markets, or Just Food Co-op.
If you’re the kind of person who can imagine a cheeseburger in one hand and a Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter in the other, get thee some Moody Blue by Roth Kase. This small batch, Wisconsin cow’s milk blue cheese is a bold, creamy cheese smoked over fruit wood, giving it a smokey flavor so assertive that it’s been called “bacony.” Moody Blue out-performed Rogue Creamery’s popular Smokey Blue at the US Championship Cheese Contest in 2009, winning a silver medal. Grab a porter and crumble it on a burger, or make an impressive grilled pizza topped with Moody Blue, caramelized onions, and figs.
A new cheese that’s making a big splash is Chris Roelli’s Red Rock cheese. The Roelli Cheese Haus in southern Wisconsin is making naturally rinded, creamy cheddar cheese, dosing it with big shots of annatto, and lacing blue mold veins through it to make a visually stunning cheddar-blue cheese. It’s aged in Red Rock caves for a minimum of 60 days while it develops its signature stark blue veins and natural blue rind. Red Rock’s bright color is dramatic on a cheese plate, and its flavor takes a grilled buffalo chicken sandwich to another level, especially with a smoked beer, like a Stagecoach Smoked Porter from Stagecoach Brewing Company in Mantorville, Minn. You can find Red Rock in the Seward Co-op Cheese Department. Want to see Red Rock in action? Check out this video from Wisconsin Cheese Talk: