This week, however, Hoard’s Dairyman launched a new brand called Hoard’s Dairyman Farm Creamery. The company’s first cheese is Belaire, an American-style Port Salut that’s mild, classic and instantly meltable. The cheese is made by Master Cheesemaker Bruce Workman at his Edelweiss Creamery in Monticello, Wisconsin, and the milk comes from the oldest continuously registered Guernsey herd in North America at the original Hoard dairy farm. In fact, the cows producing milk for Belaire are descendants of the herd W.D. Hoard himself first established in 1899.
I first began meeting with the current generation of the Hoard family years ago and gave input on cheese styles, label design and marketing ideas. In fact, my last contact with them was so long ago, I figured they had given up on the project. But a few months ago, Sandy Speich, whom the Hoards persuaded to join them earlier this year, contacted me with some prototypes of cheese, and just like that, the project was back on track, but this time, with a new style of cheese and a new label.
In America, it is virtually impossible to get historic Port Salut, a stinky, Trappist-style cheese, also known as Saint Paulin, and which is closely linked to the French Revolution of 1789. Trappist monks fled the persecutions of the “Terror”, and in order to survive, relocated their congregation and learned how to make cheese. When they returned to France in 1815, they built a new abbey and continued to make it.
Today, Port Salut is a semi-soft natural cheese that is easily recognized by its painted-on orange rind. You most likely see it in the store as “Genuine Port Salut” and the Hoard’s Dairyman version mimics this modern version. However, the Hoard’s version is smoother, creamier and fresher-tasting than the Port Salut that’s imported, and the natural golden-color of the milk produced by the Hoard Guernseys is a sight to behold. And the name, Belaire? It’s in honor of Captain Belaire, the first to bring Guernsey cattle to the United States.
The folks at Hoard’s are just starting to market this cheese, so it is in extremely limited distribution. You can find it (of course) at my Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese in downtown Oregon, Wisconsin, as well as Edelweiss Cheese Authentic Wisconsin in New Glarus, Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee, and Larry’s Market in Brown Deer.