Nestled between two iconic landscapes–the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch mountain range–the natural wonders of Salt Lake City draw many travelers throughout the year. With snowcaps in winter and fields of wildflowers in spring, there isn’t a bad time to make the trek to Utah’s capital. But, if a future visit isn’t on your radar, Beehive Cheese is transporting the unsuspecting to its beautiful hometown with its unique line of artisan cheeses.
While a smaller, newer cheesemaker compared to other generations-old names, Beehive Cheese isn’t your run-of-the-mill company; the company’s catch phrase is: “We don’t know what we can’t do.” Setting out every morning to make friends with cheese, Beehive Cheese is bringing more and more into the cheese lovers’ fold with its innovative product line.
I spoke with Britton Welsh, Marketing, and son of Beehive Cheese’s Co-Founder Tim Welsh and nephew of Co-Founder Pat Ford, to find out more about the cheeses that are stirring up interest in consumer and retail circles.
“As a family, we have always loved food and traveling, and spend quite a bit of time in Europe. While there, we noticed a difference between the primarily industrial American supermarket packaged brands back home and the local cheese sold at the local European markets. We wanted to bring this back to the U.S. and in 2005, we started Beehive Cheese,” Britton tells me. “We ended up working with Utah State’s local Agricultural University, who helped teach us our recipe. And it’s been fun! Our idea since has been to fuse together old-world techniques that have been developed for hundreds of years with new world ideas to create a really great product.”
When the team first started out, Britton reveals that they didn’t know you weren’t supposed to combine certain ingredients with cheese–a faux pas that led them to create their best-selling flavor: Barely Buzzed.
"At the time, we were going on making cheese, getting the hang of it, and in the kitchen one day, my father combined lavender and coffee beans from my uncle–a coffee roaster who owns Legacy Coffee in Grand Junction, Colorado–on a five-pound cheese wheel, and forgot about it,” Britton laughs. “We had dairy scientists and field experts try our coffee lavender cheese and at first they were like ‘You can’t do that; you can’t combine coffee and lavender on cheese,’ but then they tasted it, and the rest is history. You put cream in your coffee, and we kind of reverse engineered it and put coffee in our cream, and the flavors actually work really well together.”
Barely Buzzed features a hand-roasted Turkish grind of an espresso blend of African and South American beans and French powdered lavender. Together the two surprising and unassuming flavors complement the cheese nicely and give it a butterscotch caramel taste unique from other cheeses on grocery shelves.
And Britton shares that the Beehive Cheese team has other innovative products up their sleeve that pay special tribute to the geography in which the company is rooted in. Sharing their niche of the world through cheese, Britton explains how Beehive’s Seahive flavor is Utah in a cheese wheel.
“All of the grass our cows feed on comes from Salt Lake Valley,” Britton explains. “Utah used to be a giant lake, called Lake Bonneville, but it dried up and left behind a nutrient-, mineral-rich soil that contributes to the really phenomenal feed for our cows. We believe in the concept of Terroir; the land contributes to the flavor of the food, and one way we have taken that concept to the next level is through our Seahive flavor.”
Seahive’s rind is hand-rubbed in sea salt and honey. The sea salt is a homage to the old lake that evaporated and left behind the salt deposits of today, while the honey is reminiscent of Utah’s mountains; together the two flavors embody a sense of place that Britton and his family love.
“Our flavor combinations are very distinct. We usually get a lot of eyebrow lifts at the grocery store and at shows. But, in the past fifteen years, people have started to have more curious palates, and people aren’t yet sated by what’s currently in stores. We have a different way of thinking about food and a unique sense of place that I think people can get excited about and enjoy,” Britton tells me.
Beehive Cheese products are available in 4-ounce packages and 5-pound quarter wheels in deli departments across the country.
For more on what’s changing the face and broadening the expanse of deli, dairy, and bakery, keep checking back with Deli Market News.