Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

The Cheese Whisperer: Pondhopper – it’s Cheese Made with Beer!

Pondhopper is a soft, creamy, slightly aged goat cheese that evokes a magnificent flavor. And that flavor is beer. American pale ale style, to be more precise, with a mellow green bite of Pacific Northwest hops.

From scenic Tumalo Farms in Southern Orgeon comes Pondhopper, a fabulous artisan cheese that has won many awards, including the American Cheese Society’s 1st Place in 2006, 2nd Place in 2009 and 3rd Place in 2008.

Pondhopper is made fresh on Tumalo Farms in Bend from pasteurized goat’s milk, salt, rennet and beer. The cheese is cave aged for 2-3 months, and results in a semi-soft texture with a complex flavor with light grassy bitterness. Pair this cheese, infused with microbrew, alongside a full-bodied neighboring ale from Deschutes Brewery or Ninkasi Brewing. Or try it with a fruity Pinot Gris. Pondhopper makes an enchanting addition to a cheese plate, enjoy it in Mac-n-Cheese or in the following recipe.

Take advantage of the coming abundance of starchy squashes and root veggies like carrots, parsnips and potatoes. As with many soup recipes, this one can be modified to suit the cook’s preference. Feel free to substitute various types of squashes (as long as they are in the same quantity) as well as spices and herbs.

Recipe for Pondhopper Fall Soup

Serves 6 as Main Dish

2 cups diced organic potatoes

2 cups diced patty pan squash

1 small carrot, diced

1 small beet, diced

5 (or more) garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, diced

3 tbsp butter (or your favorite oil or fat)

2 tsp dried thyme, rosemary or oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tsp flour, any type

1-2 cups of shredded Pondhopper goat cheese

Dash of paprika

Water or broth


Heat the butter on medium heat in a large cooking pot or dutch oven and add the onions and garlic. Stir and then add the flour and dried herbs, and stir a couple of minutes until mixture thickens and caramelized garlic and onions are translucent. Add remaining diced vegetables and water or broth until the mixture is covered. Turn the heat to high to bring the soup to a bubble, cover, and bring down to a simmer on low heat. Cook for 45 minutes, until squash and potatoes are tender. Then add grated cheese and stir to mix completely. Sprinkle with paprika, serve and enjoy. The soup may be gently heated and served the next day for a more intense flavor.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.