CHEESE NOTES

HeavyTable.com reports on a new cheese from Minnesota’s Alemar Cheese Company, makers of the monger favorite Bent River (reviewed here). The new cheese is named Blue Earth, and comes out just as Alemar founder Keith Adams gets ready to move to Northern California to pursue new ventures. Via Heavy Table:

Blue Earth from Alemar Cheese Company

Fans of Alemar Cheese Company’s Bent River and Good Thunder have a new reason to stalk the cheese case. Founder and cheesemaker Keith Adams (below) isn’t leaving Minnesota without introducing Blue Earth, a Brie-style cheese that’s just starting to appear in Minnesota cheese shops, co-ops, and grocery stores. Named for Blue Earth County, where Alemar Cheese is located, this new cheese offers a new format and flavors to fans of Adams’ Camembert-style Bent River.

“We always made some larger-format pieces of Bent River when we had extra curd. The thing that was cool about it was that it tasted different because it was bigger and took longer to ripen. As time went on, I thought I would tinker with the cultures and do a larger piece and call it a Brie, or an ‘American brie,’” Adams says. “Sometimes I’m at the market or I’m demo-ing, and people are hell-bent on a piece of Brie. I try to steer them to Bent River and they’re like, “No, I want a Brie.” Part of making [Blue Earth] was to solve that problem, but it was also going to be its own cheese.”

“There are five cultures or starters that go into both of the cheeses, but we’ve pulled back on one and bumped up the other. A lot of people get vegetal notes in Bent River, but we wanted to dial that back on the Brie to make it a little more accessible to the average palate as a starting point,” Adams says.

Despite his new venture into a Brie-like cheese, Adams still is moving ahead with his plans to relocate to northern California after spending several weeks in England next month. Leaving Alemar Cheese in the capable hands of Craig Hageman, the new head cheesemaker, Adams will travel to several well-known British dairies, such as Westcombe Dairy and Montgomery’s Cheddar, and attend an artisan cheesemaking seminar by affineur and distributor Neal’s Yard Dairy. He’s even leaving a few days free at the end of his trip to hop across the English Channel to the Camembert region of France “to pay [his] respects.”

Read the full post.

(Photo ©2014 HeavyTable.com)

MPR: Minnesota cheesemakers form statewide guild

Minnesota cheesemakers are getting organized and have formed a guild, just in time for this September’s Minnesota Cheese Festival. Members include Alemar Cheese Company, makers of the previously reviewed Bent River Camembert. Via Minnesota Public Radio

Minnesota cheesemakers form statewide guild

Watch out, Wisconsin. Minnesota cheese makers are organizing. Nine artisan cheese makers have just formed the Minnesota Cheese Guild in an effort to share knowledge and resources and to get the word out about their work.

“Cheese making is by nature an isolating profession,” said guild president Jodi Ohlsen Read of Shepherd’s Way Farms. “And when I started 15 years ago there were hardly any other small scale companies out there, aside from Eichtens.”

Members of the guild will be showcasing their cheeses and offering tips on how best to enjoy them at the second annual Minnesota Cheese Festival in September.

A few of them were on hand to show off their delectables last night at Heidi’s restaurant in Minneapolis. Among them was Keith Adams of Alemar Cheese Company in Mankato. Adams, who named the company after his two daughters, started making cheese five years ago after first working as a baker. He says it pays to be slightly obsessive and to not shy away from long hours and grunt work.

Adams has produced three cheeses since starting his business: “Bent River” (a Camembert style cheese), a fromage blanc, and most recently “Good Thunder,” a Reblochon inspired cheese washed in Surly beer and hand rubbed in sea salt.  He gets his milk from Cedar Summit Farm in New Prague.

Alise Sjostrom, founder of Redhead Creamery, is the newest cheese maker in the guild; she and her husband Lucas presented their first-ever wheel of aged cheddar for tasting last night. But Sjostrom doesn’t lack experience. She grew up on a dairy farm, studied cheese making at the University of Minnesota, and worked at both Grafton Village Cheese in Vermont and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Wisconsin.

Read the full story.

(Photo ©2013 Minnesota Public Radio)

High-res From the archives: Originally posted April 19th, 2012:
Bent River Camembert, from the Alemar Cheese Company in Minnesota, is a cheese I’ve been on the prowl after for a while. I was curious to try this cheese after reading Janet Fletcher’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle, but the last time I went looking for it, Lucy’s Whey had already sold out and I couldn’t find it at any of the other cheese mongers in town. Lucy’s Whey recently tweeted that they had some, so I finally got my hands on a half wheel.
Keith Adams, the maker behind Bent River, came to cheese making after years in the bagel business and prior to that as a stockbroker in San Francisco. Although a relative newcomer, he’s obviously a quick study (you can read more about him here, from Minnesota Public Radio). This soft-ripened bloomy rind, inspired by the traditional Camembert de Normandie, is made from the milk of a local farm and a mix of Holstein, Normandy, Jersey, and Guernsey cows.
With a luxuriant, velvety paste, buttery and smooth, in flavor it is milky and barnyardy but in a very subtle way, reminiscent of damp hay after a rain, with herbacous and floral hints and a full, mushroomy body. 
It took a while to get my hands on, but it  was well worth the wait. Definitely a cheese to seek out. 
Purchased at Lucy’s Whey. 

From the archives: Originally posted April 19th, 2012:

Bent River Camembert, from the Alemar Cheese Company in Minnesota, is a cheese I’ve been on the prowl after for a while. I was curious to try this cheese after reading Janet Fletcher’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle, but the last time I went looking for it, Lucy’s Whey had already sold out and I couldn’t find it at any of the other cheese mongers in town. Lucy’s Whey recently tweeted that they had some, so I finally got my hands on a half wheel.

Keith Adams, the maker behind Bent River, came to cheese making after years in the bagel business and prior to that as a stockbroker in San Francisco. Although a relative newcomer, he’s obviously a quick study (you can read more about him here, from Minnesota Public Radio). This soft-ripened bloomy rind, inspired by the traditional Camembert de Normandie, is made from the milk of a local farm and a mix of Holstein, Normandy, Jersey, and Guernsey cows.

With a luxuriant, velvety paste, buttery and smooth, in flavor it is milky and barnyardy but in a very subtle way, reminiscent of damp hay after a rain, with herbacous and floral hints and a full, mushroomy body. 

It took a while to get my hands on, but it  was well worth the wait. Definitely a cheese to seek out. 

Purchased at Lucy’s Whey