The French Cheese Mimolette is produced in Normandy, Brittany, Nord-Pas de Calais and other parts of France. It arose in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIV when his minister Colbert banned the import of many foreign goods, including the Dutch Edam cheese which was immensely popular in northern France. The local French responded by making their own version of Edam, changed the shape and colored it with annatto.
Mimolette is cantaloupe orange and looks like a cannon ball dug out of orangish red clay. The rind looks like the product of an archaeological dig with a rough, dusty, gnarly look from cheese mites especially bred for this cheese that contribute to its look and flavor. The mites feed on the molds that grow on the cheese's surface. By eating into the rind they increase the cheese's aeration and they add an earthy note to the cheese. Cheese makers blow the mites off the cheese with compressed air and brushing by hand but a few always remain. In 2013 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned Mimolette for over a year due to the mites. The FDA was concerned that the mites would cause allergic reactions in people allergic to mites. I am allergic to mites and it has never caused an allergic reaction. In 2014 the FDA relented and the cheese returned. They will now allow cheese in with 6 mites per square inch or less.
Mimolette is made from pasteurized cows milk and animal rennet and is aged for 2 to 24 months. Mine has been aged for a year. A ball of mimolette can weigh around 4.5 pounds. The cheese is brilliant nearly psychedelic orange with a firm, fudgy paste and a few eyes dotted about. The rind looks scrubbed - probably the result of trying to get enough mites off to keep the FDA happy. The cheese has a tangy, fruity smell with some sweat, mushroom, and funky floral. The flavor is nutty, buttery, salty and tangy with some dark caramel notes and Mimolette melts slowly in your mouth. I started my way through the wedge of Mimolette with a Crowler of 12welve Eyes 2Ö/2Ö Kolsch, a light mildly flavored beer that does not get in the way of the cheese and cleanses the palate. The beer brings out a little more fruit in the cheese and it a very pleasant pairing.
I followed the Kolsch with an Indeed Old Breed Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine and where the Kolsch for the most part stayed out of the way and let the cheese do its thing, the reaches in and engages the cheese. the beer brings rich sweet malt, alcohol, bourbon, dark dried fruit, some oak, and a dash of hops to the table. The malt sugars work with the cheese's caramel notes and the nuttiness in both the cheese and the beer accent each other. The beer's dried fruit notes highlights the cheese's fruit notes and tells you that this is a cheese that likes dried fruit. The beer and the cheese elevate each other and pair excellently.