When Pat Ford and Tim Welsh opened their creamery doors in 2005, they had eight days of cheesemaking experience between the two of them and heaps of enthusiasm. They knew they wanted to open a small local creamery in their hometown of Ogden, UT, but they were not clear on exactly what they would make. They’d found the perfect dairy partner in Clint Wade of Wadeland Dairy just 10 miles up the road, but they hadn’t settled on a recipe.
“We had this crazy idea of making little bloomy-rind cheeses called BrieHive at the time. It’s really funny how much we didn’t know about cheesemaking. I think that kept us open-minded and willing to explore.” says Ford. “We just had this trust in each other that we’d jump in and figure it out. And that’s what we did.”
Months prior to opening their creamery, Beehive Cheese Co., the two brothers-in-law took a cheesemaking short course up at Utah State University. At the time, the course was filled with cheesemakers headed into large-scale commodity cheesemaking operations along the intermountain west. The artisan creamery dream shared by Ford and Welsh was a novelty 15 years ago, when starting a small creamery was literally unheard of in Utah.
Struck by Beehive’s grit and sincerity, the mentors at Utah State University approached them with an offer. They asked Ford and Welsh to use the university’s cheddar recipe and make it their own. Of course, they jumped at the opportunity to use this time-tested recipe that would come with the added bonus of expertise from their mentors. This recipe became what is now known as Promontory.
It didn’t take long for Beehive to take Promontory and make it a signature. They had to adapt the recipe to their single milk source and make daily adjustments based on the ever-changing seasonal composition of the milk. As an artisan producer, the cheesemaker does not standardize its milk. This means it does not add anything to the milk to make sure the fats and proteins are the same every time. This variation is where the art and science of cheesemaking dance.
Paying homage to Beehive’s owners’ Utah roots, Promontory is named after the local historical landmark, Promontory Summit. Locomotive buffs know this location as the place the Golden Spike was placed connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads in 1869. This union made transcontinental train travel possible. The name was also symbolic of the way cheese brings people together and connects us all.
Promontory is the base cheese for all of Beehive’s rubbed rind cheeses. The American original Barely Buzzed, which has an exterior rub of espresso and lavender on the rind, is one of Beehive’s most awarded and well-known cheeses. Back in 2006, Beehive Cheese was a trailblazer in this style of cheese and helped popularize this technique.
“We couldn’t have Barely Buzzed, Seahive or Big John’s Cajun without our amazing base cheese, Promontory. You have to start with a phenomenal base to make an extraordinary flavored cheese. It’s all about getting the basics right.” says Welsh.
Wadeland Dairy’s herd is a mix of Holsteins and mostly Jersey. Promontory is aged six to eight months and uses vegetarian rennet.
The Jersey cow’s milk is high in fat, which gives Promontory its creaminess. Its flavor is sweet, fruity and buttery.
Promontory pairs exceptionally well with American and Indian Pale Ales. Malty beers with body, such as Porter or Stout, make for a fantastic pairing. Fuller bodied, tannic red wines like Cab Sav work well with Promontory. The fatty creaminess of this cheese softens tannins and highlights the fruitiness in both the cheese and wine.
Promontory is found in retail locations across Northern Utah. It can also be found online at www.beehivecheese.com in 12-ounce and 5-pound cuts.