Beaufort: A Bomb from the French Alps

July 17, 2010

Beaufort is a raw cow’s milk cheese from the Haute Jura area in France, close to the Swiss border.  Cows grazing on alpine grasses provide the milk used in its production.  Beaufort is aged for 18 months, has a natural edible rind and arrives in huge 80-pound wheels.

Our sample of Beaufort was a thin slice from a large, doorstop-sized chunk.  The interior of the cheese is a deep, golden yellow.  This cheese is smooth and solid.  Its surface unmarred by holes or fissures.  At the rind, the cheese has orange and brown tints.  The rind itself is a warm tan.  (Note:  To see what Beaufort looks like in the shop, try this photo).

Beaufort’s aroma is not strong, but it smells like a farm.  The interior has the scent of butter and the rind smells like cow and dried hay.

Unlike other hard cheeses we’ve tried, this one bends.  Our thin slices of Beaufort broke up into large chunks as we handled the cheese during the evaluation.  Beaufort’s surface is greasy to the touch.

Beaufort’s flavors start softly, but end sharply.  It is very mild at first, almost like a light Gruyere.  It finishes with a nutty, salty flavor that is stronger but still milder than an Aged Gouda.  The bang from this cheese comes at the very end: the cheese really coats the mouth with its flavors and after swallowing, a felt-like feeling remains.

Beaufort did not win any fans during our evaluation.  Half of the tasters were unimpressed by its mild flavor (a guest taster called it boring) and the others were put off by its after-effects.  Ben called the after-effect “spicy,” but this is his catchall description for foods that produce negative mouth effects.  No one wanted to purchase this cheese again.

When we purchased this cheese, our cheesemonger raved about Beaufort calling it “the bomb.”  Yet this cheese literally bombed with all tasters.  Conclusion: preference is informed by personal likes and experience and best not be too swayed by other’s raves.


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