Beecher's Flagship Reserve
Kurt Beecher Dammeier opened his first Beecher's Handmade Cheese in Seattle's Pike Place Market. His cheeses are free of harmful additives and preservatives. The American Cheese Society named Beecher's Flagship Reserve the best clothbound cheddar in the US. Beecher's Flagship Cheese is a handmade semi-hard cow's milk cheese that is cave aged for 15 months. The Flagship Reserve receives special handling and is open aged for over a year. About a year ago I took my grandson to a German restaurant and ordered him a kielbasa. After his first bite, he asked "why haven't I known about this before?" You will have the same reaction after your first bite of this cheese.
The paste is a waxy dark cream color with some mottling and the rind shows some cheese cloth. It has a funky, mushroomy smell. As the cheese melts in your mouth you notice a little crunch and it releases very rich creamy, buttery, nutty flavors with some salt, a hint of caramel and a slight tang. I am drinking a Steel Toe Köln Style ale. It is a particularly good Kölsch because it is fresh and has not suffered the abuse of a long ocean voyage and extended stays in various warehouses. The light fruit flavors in the beer pick up on some fruit nuances in the cheese and the beer's bitter finish picks up on some bitter notes in the cheese. The cheese also rings out the beer's contrasts between sweet and bitter. The beer's clean malt flavors are an excellent substitute for crackers or bread. The cheese gets a 95 and if you see it, buy it. The pairing gets an 85.