It's a point of confusion for many Houstonians that while Houston Dairymaids sells and distributes cheese, it is not a farm and does not make cheese. Things are about to get more confusing: This Monday, owner Lindsey Schechter sent restaurants including Brasserie 19, Pass & Provisions and Fielding's Local a new cheese, which she helped mastermind. "We've been so excited about this," she says.
Jasper Hill Farm (its aging facility is known as the Cellars at Jasper Hill) in Greensboro, Vermont, had sent Schechter other cheeses with rinds washed with beers made by brewers in other states. One such fromage is Jasper Hill's Willoughby, washed with Vermont brewer the Alchemist's Petit Mutant. It's significant that the cheese wasn't made with one of the Alchemist's popular-on-the-black-market, hoppy brews like Heady Topper or Focal Banger. "Hoppy and bitterness just bring out bitterness," when washing cheese rinds, Schechter explains.
Partnering with Saint Arnold was a no-brainer. "Brock [Wagner, the brewery's founder] is a huge cheese lover," Schechter says. It was just a matter of picking the right beer. Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill communicated that berry flavors work especially well with cheese. Luckily, Saint Arnold was just about to release Raspberry AF.
Though the cheese is already available at Dairymaids, the aforementioned restaurants, and Spec's, but for those who want a formal introduction can head to Saint Arnold on October 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. for a taste of the Raspberry AF-washed Willoughby, as well as other interesting cheeses and beers.
And how does it taste? Though at less than 30 days old, it's currently well short of its recommended age of 6 to 12 weeks, the buttery Willoughby, a Brie-style semi-soft cheese, is already exceptionally creamy with a bit less funk and a bit more acid than other Willoughbys we've tried. "It runs thicker and more toothsome," Schechter observes. "And it's just going to get creamier and creamier."
That's lucky. She and her outlets will have to find homes for 1,028 Willoughbys, which retail at Dairymaids for a reasonable $15-per-wheel. And best of all? All profits got to the Houston Food Bank.