Sweet Grass Dairy is quickly establishing itself as one of the country’s premier artisan cheese producers. Founded in 2000 by Al and Desiree Wehner on 140 acres of rolling south-Georgia pastureland, the dairy started with a small herd of 11 dairy goats, grass-based jersey cow’s milk from their herd in the neighboring county, and a mission to show people a better way.
A better way for what, you may ask? After years in the conventional dairy business, they decided to change their style of dairying to that of a rotational grazing system in which the animals graze lush pasture in comparison to confinement barns on concrete. This style of dairying lets cows be cows and is healthier for not only the animals themselves, but those fortunate enough to drink the milk they produce. Although it was against the grain, the Wehners were confident in their decision. It wasn’t long until it was time for a new adventure, so they decided to start a cheese making business.
Beer and Cheese Soup
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
1 (12-oz) bottle ale (Belgian White Ale – Unibroue Ephemere)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb Sweet Grass Dairy Myrtlewood or Thomasville Tomme Cheese, grated
1 gala apple cut into a fine dice- this can be done easily by squaring
off the apple- leaving the core intact
1/2 lb applewood-smoked slab bacon, cut into a small dice
Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks begin to melt and liquid is produced, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Using a hand-held blender, carefully blend contents of saucepan until smooth. If you like, you may pour mixture through a chinois or fine mesh sieve to attain a silky texture. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted but do not boil.
In another pan, cook bacon until crispy.
Serve soup garnished with bacon crisps and finely diced apple.
Sweet Grass Dairy Marketplace
19345 US Highway 19 North
Thomasville, GA 31792