I recently came across an article in Gourmet Magazine about one of Artisanal’s favorite Affineur known as the Cheese Pope, Rolf Beeler, Maitre Fromage. Because of his exceptional skills that he has been perfecting for more than 30 years, Rolf Beeler has revolutionized the way cheesemakers think and practice the art of Affinage. Affinage, a word that is derived from the Latin finus, meaning “end” or ultimate point,” is the process of the curing or ripening process to “finish” a particular cheese. This is arguably the most crucial step in cheese making and is what we focus on at Artisanal.
What makes Rolf Beelers cheeses so special is besides advising the cheesemaker on the length of time to age their cheese, how often to rotate or wash it, and suggestion of different bacteria to flavor them, he will go as far as to modify the animals diet. He may also steer them to a different field where they may encounter foods that are more beneficial to produce a specific milk flavor profile which he believes is critical to begin the cheese making process.
His end product is one that all affineurs strive to produce, a unique flavor, texture and long finish. His cheeses explode with flavor the second you taste them and always seem to please everyone’s palate.
Rolf Beeler’s Gruyere, for example is aged for at least 18 months and produces a unique taste, one you can tell is full flavored with a granular texture that speaks to you instantly, similar to an experience you wold have with a high quality Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Beeler never mixes milk from different dairies or uses milk that has to travel because, “when milk is shipped from hundreds of miles away, it loses its, how you say…terroir. I like the farmer to know the name of each cow.”
Here are some great Rolf Beeler cheeses to try right now: