A CHEEZY BUSINESS: Beehive’s Award-Winning Artisan Cheeses
-by Ted Scheffler
Back in 2005 when Beehive Cheese Co. was founded, I hadn’t ever heard of the enclave of Uintah, Utah. It was shortly after that when I first visited Beehive Cheese headquarters, located at the intersection of Utah Highway 89 and Interstate 84 in Uintah. Beehive was a very small, startup operation back then, but the business that Tim Welsh and Pat Ford created has since grown by leaps and bounds and made a big splash amongst the world’s cheese aficionados.
On the surface, it seems unlikely that brothers-in-law Pat and Tim would have ever wound up in the cheese biz. Ford had been working in land development and Welsh was looking for work, having recently sold his Bay area dotcom software company. Yet within two years of founding Beehive Cheese Co. - by 2007 - they were making 40,000 pounds of cheese annually and already garnering awards like the 1st Place ribbon for Beehive’s Barely Buzzed at the 2007 American Cheese Society Competition. Since that time, Beehive cheeses have won a truckload of honors in both national and international cheese competitions.
They didn’t do alone, however. Welsh and Ford credit the help they received from the Western Dairy Center at Utah State University in learning to craft delicious, award-worthy cheeses. In a short period of time, the duo went from “pretty clueless” (Welsh’s words) to making much sought-after artisan cheeses.
First rate ingredients are essential to producing first rate cheeses, and Beehive spares no expense. They use vegetarian-friendly rennet in all of their cheeses and creamy, high-quality milk from Wadeland Dairy help lend a rich, buttery flavor to Beehive cheeses. According to the creamery folks at Beehive, they do not standardize their milk. “This means that as the milk changes with the season, we adjust our cheese recipe to match the fat and protein levels present in the milk.”
Beehive’s Barely Buzzed is the cheese that really put the cheese company on the map and caught the attention of cheese judges at competitions. At the time, circa 2006, I remember thinking it was a pretty radical idea: rubbing a cheese by hand using an espresso blend produced by Colorado Legacy Fine Coffee - with South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans that are roasted, ground, and then mixed with French Superior lavender buds ground onsite. The combination of bitter espresso and sweet, fragrant lavender give Barely Buzzed a truly unique flavor profile and appeal.
Since launching Barely Buzzed, Beehive has become renown for its hand-rubbed cheeses, including Teahive which is rubbed with bergamot tea leaves; Seahive rubbed with local honey and Redmond RealSalt; Red Butte Hatch Chile Cheese with - you guessed it - made with a dried New Mexican Hatch Chile rub; and Big John’s Cajun, a spicy cheese rubbed with a cayenne-based Cajun spice blend developed by Utah chef John Dearmin.
Beehive recently partnered with High West Distillery to create Fully Loaded, a cheese fortified with High West Double Rye Whiskey imparting cinnamon and fennel spice flavors .
Still, my favorite Beehive cheese is Promontory - the company’s tried and true, flagship Irish-style cheese that’s both buttery and fruity, simultaneously. I wouldn’t think of making macaroni and cheese without it!