Cheese…. It is a single word that promises such flavor, joy, and versatility. We here at the dairy council of Utah and Nevada, love cheese and are spoiled with great local cheese. We wanted to highlight our cheese-makers, share their story, and of course enjoy loads of cheese. So we decided to go on a cheesy adventure.
Our first stop was Beehive Cheese, which features hand-rubbed, artisan cheese. We met with owners Pat Ford and Tim Welsh and learned their story. Tim and Pat decided that they wanted to open a local artisan cheese location in Northern Utah. After some training from the Western Dairy Center at Utah State University, they opened their doors on September 5th 2005, and quickly began winning awards for their unique cheeses. Tim and Pat are brothers-in-law and their kids work alongside their dads’ and cousins in this family owned operation.
After introductions, Pat showed us their cheese-making process. It all starts with the milk. The milk used at Beehive cheese comes from Clint and Tara Wade’s Dairy. It is a 4th generation family dairy just 10 miles northwest of Beehive Cheese. They provide high quality milk by ensuring a caring environment for their herd of Jersey and Holstein cows. Wade’s Dairy provides milk with a somatic cell count (indicative of cow health) 7 times lower than required, evidence that the milk is high quality and the cows are healthy and stress-free. This high quality milk is that starting point for Beehives award winning cheese.
Beehive gets 3 truck loads of milk each week. Each truck load fills a 4300lb vat and makes about 3 batches of cheese each day. It takes about 10lbs of milk to make 1lb of cheese, so they go through this milk quickly. Each batch of cheese takes about 6 hours, so with three batches a day, this makes for long days.
Pat explained that cheese making is “the intersection of science and art.” There are 4 basic components of cheese making
These components are interrelated, sensitive, and lead to great variability in the cheese making process. For example, the speed of the aging depends on fat and bacteria, which can change with each batch of milk. You can adjust bacteria activity with salt, pH and temperature, but it has to be just right. There is a narrow window for cutting the curd, if you cut it too late, the moisture will be to high. Though there are lots of scientific facts, the process of making cheese is as much art as it is science – cheese makers begin to have a sense of when the cheese is ready to move to its next phase – based on the components above, it’s not always the same.
After explaining how they make their base cheese, Promontory, Pat showed us the smoker, aging room, and packaging room. Depending on the type of cheese, it is aged for 3-6 months so they were working on Christmas cheese.
The Process: pasteurization, adding bacteria, making cheese curds, aging, and packaging.
Then we got to learn about their different cheeses, born from creative ideas and experiments.
Base Cheese: Promontory, a white cheddar
Most popular: Barely Buzzed, promontory hand rubbed in coffee grounds (33% of sales). “You put cream in your coffee, why not coffee in your cream.” They had extra coffee around the shop so they decided to try it one day. It quickly won awards and launched their business.
No Gos: Maraschino cherries and chocolate chips
Pats favorite: Aggiano (as long as they get it just right), a salty, aged, hard cheese reminiscent of Parmesan
As we said our goodbyes, Pat sent us home with a bag full of this amazing cheese to try. Although taking them home and binging was a temptation, we decided to share the cheesey goodness with the rest of out staff.
- Salty and really wonderful
- Great texure
- Good subtle flavor
- Rich, smokey flavor
- Smooth and delicious
- Rich and delicious
- Fun and original
- Many of the staff’s favorites
- Love it!
- Nice light flavor
- Not my favorite, but good
- Sweet tea flavor
- Tastes like Earl Grey
- If you don’t’ like tea, probably won’t like this
- Subtle and salty
- Yummy, salty
- Sweet and satly, would be great for cooking
- Very sweet
Big John’s Cajun
- Has got a kick
- Some said too spicy
- Nice flavor
- Great spicy kick
- Would be amazing for mac and cheese!
- Love that you can really taste the chive
- Great for cooking
- Light onion flavor
- Oniony like a cheese ball
Different ones spoke to different people, but overall census rate them as wonderful. It is clear why this amazing cheese has won so many awards! Check out beehive cheese for yourself you won’t regret it! I am eating the leftovers right now and my taste buds are in heaven!