Winter Blues: A Faribault Dairy Production
Straight from the mammoth caves of Faribault comes a Summit Winter Ale-washed blue cheese called Winter Blues, to be sold exclusively at Lunds and Byerly’s stores. A beer/cheese blowout at the Summit Brewery tonight celebrated the launch of Winter Blues, which turns out to be an earthy yet chalkily creamy and clean-finishing blue.
Three observations about the evening:
1. Faribault Dairy cheesemaker Jeff Jirik had more than a little in common with many of the Wisconsin master cheesemakers my wife and I met researching our book. Some classic traits: Outgoing, humorous, and far craftier about the hard science aspects of food than you would ever guess. Should you cross paths with him, get him started on the science of cheese aging and the nature of umami.
2. By a 4:1 ratio, people were clustered around the bar (free beer!) as opposed to the cheese tables (free cheese!). Fools, fools, fools — you don’t get to try blue cheese as good as Faribault’s (smooth, rich, creamy, gentle, complex) every day, nor cheddar as good as the company’s Fini, forged in Monroe, WI and aged in Minnesota caves. You’re supposed to do it like this: obtain free beer, try 3-4 free cheeses, repeat as necessary.
3. The rind of Winter Blues (washed with Summit Winter Ale) had a savage bitter note to it, probably a signal that this is one of those cheeses where you want to avoid the outside of the wheel. Should you stumble upon a wheel or large slice of Winter Blues at Lunds, purchase it immediately and serve it with tortas de aceite, but steer clear of the exterior unless you like culinary shock value.