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The 2014 World Cheese Championships were held March 14-18 in Madison WI. With over 2,619 cheese from 22 countries entered in the contest, it is one of the most competitive cheese judging events in the world. Despite the stiff competition, Port Townsend cheese maker Mt Townsend Creamery earned recognition for its “Off Kilter”, which placed second in the washed rind soft cheese category.
Off Kilter is a soft-bodied cheese with a rich texture and a nutty, meaty flavor with hints of malt. Off Kilter won it awards in the "smear-ripened" category, a reference to the washing technique used during aging. Off Kilter is washed with scotch ale as it ages. “The washing process that takes place in the aging room gives the cheese its distinctive flavor”, explained Ryan Trail, Co-owner of Mt Townsend Creamery. “Perfecting the timing and the technique of the washing was critical to make this cheese as good as it is today. We are very proud of it.” Many smear ripened cheeses are referred to as “stinky” due to the powerful aroma created by the rind as it develops and the cheese matures. "The beauty of Off Kilter is the flavor balance we have struck,” Trail continues, ”many washed rind cheese lose their subtlety because they have such intense flavor. Off Kilter really has a lot of depth and nuance. It has taken a lot of work for us to get it where it is today.”
Mt Townsend Creamery has been making a variety of cow’s milk cheeses in Port Townsend since 2007. It has earned several awards in the recent past for New Moon, Trailhead, Camp Fire and Seastack at the US Cheese Championships and the American Cheese Society Contest.