Five hours before last weekend's Nextel Cup race in Richmond, I took to the parking lots with a wheel of Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk cheese, four bottles of Allagash White and a few little sample cups. I also had some raisin nut bread, but I ran out of hands, so the bread was not sampled.
Surprisingly, quite a few tailgaters refused my offer of free cheese and beer, although I only got one joke about cutting the cheese. In general, those who accepted my offer had positive comments about both cheese and beer; the cheese was compared to brie and yogurt and cheddar and Swiss, while the beer was compared to Blue Moon and Stella Artois by my most thoughtful tasters. The cheese's aroma was less popular; Casey Reynard told me to "put some air freshener up in your cheese," a few people asked me whether it contained hallucinogens and several tailgaters told me it smelled like certain unprintable things. Also, the consensus was that the Allagash White is too heavy for tailgating purposes.
Still, a few race fans absolutely loved the Red Hawk/Allagash combination, and when I left the parking lots, I had no trouble giving away the rest of my sampling supplies. Tune in next week for some local artisanal cheese and craft beer tailgating suggestions.