When I used to listen to the winter school closings on WCCO radio as a kid, I always waited for and loved the way the announcer said “Gooooood Thunder, public and parochial.” It was with even more anticipation that I waited for the cheese of the same name, a new effort by local cheese master Keith Adams of Alemar Cheese Company. After the immense success of his camembert-style Bent River cheese, there was a lot of expectation. But while Bent River is a buttery everyman’s cheese, Good Thunder is a cheese lover’s cheese: It’s good and stinky.
This cheese has a rind that is hand-washed with cheesecloth that has been brined in a solution of beer, salt, and culture, once a week for three weeks, giving it that orange hue and stinky persona. It’s no small fact that this cheese is washed in Surly Bender as an homage to the groundbreaking beer. The resulting brick of cheese, wrapped in paper, is hearty and dense. It’s not a hard cheese, but it’s more solid and sturdy than gooey. The flavor is nutty and rich and quite complex, especially along with the bite of the bouquet.
First timers of the washed rind should understand that you have to get past the blooming smell to receive the riches of the cheese. This one stands up and demands to be noticed. It’s perfect for slicing and eating without crackers, and it washes down well with a tall Surly or other rich ales. Look for it sporadically at Surdyk’s while demand is measured, but you can also find it at the Alemar booth at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, where Keith Adams himself will bend your ear on the beauties of the washed rind.