MouCo Cheese Co.: Fresh from Fort Collins

No matter the time of year, foods are everywhere…fresh strawberries, Rocky Ford melons, Palisade peaches, freshly collected honey. Fresh local food finds in Colorado are plentiful this time of year. MouCo cheeses from Fort Collins, Colorado, are a perfect addition to a locavore’s year round spread.

The creators of MouCo Cheese Co., husband and wife Robert Poland and Birgit Halbreiter, make two products, a traditional Camembert and ColoRouge. Each style of top-quality cheese is its own craft. Unlike wine or beer making, which the couple knows a lot about as former longtime employees of New Belgium Brewing Co., also in Fort Collins, making different types of cheeses requires different materials, facilities and training, and European artisan cheese-makers almost always specialize in one type of cheese.

MouCo Cheese uses paper packaging to allow their cheeses to continue aging.

Birgit worked for a large cheese manufacturer in Germany called Kaserei Champignon before moving to the United States. Her father, Franz Halbreiter, is a master cheesemaker and helped Birgit and Robert start their home cheesemaking hobby. They created the same style cheese he specializes in, soft-ripened bloomy fresh rounds with natural rinds and a creamy paste. The couple received so much praise and support from friends they decided to take the leap from brewery workers to professional cheesemakers, and so MouCo was born.

Today MouCo Cheese Co. crafts between 2,000 and 5,000 cheeses per week, hauling locally produced milk to their cheesery with the help of their brand new vehicle, Chuck the Milktruck.

The company uses breathable paper wrap, imported from France, that allows the delicate cheeses to continue aging even after they hit the stores and after you get them home. This continuous aging process is what sets MouCo cheeses apart from the rest of the softies on the shelf. As with the popular and plentiful soft cheeses of Europe, MouCo rounds are aged and packaged with extra care to ensure the cheese cultures stay alive and the cheeses continue to ripen until they’re cut into.

Young MouCo Camembert has a tart fresh flavor that ripens to a complex nutty paste. ColoRouge’s flavor starts out buttery and smooth and ages to a spicy goo with a sharp aroma.

MouCo cheeses have a lot of different uses, and the company’s website features recipes such as beer-cheese soup (a lower-calorie version than the thick creamy soups brewpubs typically serve), smoked salmon and Camembert quiche, plus creative dessert ideas.

Colorado chefs have taken the guesswork out of pairing MouCo cheeses. Here are some favorite suggestions:

MouCo cheeses can be paired with fine meats, wines and fruit for a flavorful taste.

• ColoRouge with an array of smoked meats like dry sausages, smoked fish like salmon and trout, and barbecue.

• ColoRouge with grilled asparagus.

• Strawberries, champagne and MouCo Camembert, a classic combination.

Speaking of champagne, another tip for enjoying MouCo cheeses: pair with bubbles. That means beer not wine, or sparkling wines over still. The gooey, mouth-coating texture of soft cheeses is best paired with bubbly beverages to cleanse the palate between bites to better enjoy the layers of flavor over and over again.

If You Go

MouCo Cheese Co. Inc.
1401 Duff Dr., No. 300
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524

MouCo cheeses are available at specialty grocery stores, specialty cheese shops, select Kroger-brand grocery stores and Whole Foods Markets throughout the Rocky Mountain region.