MouCo Cheese Company is owned by Birgit Halbreiter and Robert Poland, who met while working for the New Belgium Brewing Company. Birgit, who is originally from Germany, has a background in Food Science and Robert was the Fermentation Manager at the brewery. In 2000, after some experimental cheesemaking at home, Birgit enlisted the help of her father, Franz, a master cheesemaker from Germany. Today, MouCo Cheese Company produces four types of soft cheese: MouCo Camembert, ColoRouge, Ashley and Truffello. Pasteurized milk, predominantly from Holstein cows, is sourced from Morning Fresh Dairy, located just outside Fort Collins. For production of Ashley, milk is heated and the cultures and rennet added. After coagulation, the curd is carefully ladled into molds to preserve as much moisture as possible, and allowed to drain. After a few hours, the cheeses are unmolded and coated in a blend of salt and vegetable ash which helps begin the development of the rind. The young cheeses are then transferred to racks and dried slightly before being moved to the maturing cave where they’re aged for an initial period of eleven days before being matured for a further forty in their packaging.
With a gently undulating, wrinkly, grey rind, the texture of Ashley is soft and yielding. Flavors are fresh, bright and clean with notes of citrus and mushrooms.
Good beverage pairings for Ashley include beers such as lagers, saisons and chocolate stouts. A chardonnay, sparkling wine or Champagne work well too. As for food, roasted pumpkin and acidic fruits such as peaches and tangerines pair nicely.