You know how Colleen and I always say that it pays to know your cheesemonger? Well, that rule goes for cheesemakers, too. If I hadn’t established a friendship with Alemar Cheese Company founder Keith Adams two years ago, when I discovered his amazing Bent River, I wouldn’t have had one of the first tastes of Keith’s new beer-washed cheese, Good Thunder. And I might not have had the opportunity to have those early samples if the Green Bay Packers hadn’t blown their playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.
What does one have to do with the other? Well, Keith saw me throw a fit on Twitter during the game and offered to cheer me up with a shipment of the super-secret cheese he was developing. I never turn down cheese, so a few days later I happily accepted a package with two cheeses-in-progress, marked “B” and “5.” I nibbled my way through both samples and sent my feedback to Keith, but I had to wait a few months until the cheese was ready to market to write about it. Luckily, Keith sent me a couple packages of the finished product before deliveries began to cheese shops and gave me the lowdown on the cheese – including its name – for a Heavy Table story I wrote a couple of weeks ago.
You can read the article to get the full scoop, but here are the basics: It’s an orange-rinded, slightly stinky specimen (thanks to the B. linens cultures) that is washed in Surly Bender, a Minnesota-brewed beer and aged for several weeks at Keith’s Mankato facility before heading to market. Availability will be hit or miss for the next few months as Keith evaluates demand, but look for it at his booth at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, local cheese shops and, hopefully later this summer, shops around the United States. If you find Good Thunder near you, don’t hesitate to grab it; fans of dense, fudgy cheese – and beer lovers, of course – will savor its unique flavor.