Red Butte Garden is brimming with picturesque rose gardens and other beautiful plants. It’s open year round, with different plants blooming each season. Red Butte Garden, a part of the University of Utah, is a special place in Salt Lake City, where you can escape the city for hours by walking through a hundred acres of natural gardens, landscaped paths and hiking trails. A nonprofit organization with a mission to “cultivate the human connection with the beauty of living landscapes,” Red Butte Garden offers guided tours, horticulture lectures and many fun events throughout the year and hosts film screenings and a popular concert series.

A fundraiser sponsored by Beehive Cheese Co. and Roosters Brewing Co. was held for Red Butte Garden in the scenic Rose Garden. Tables were set up among the walkways and rose bushes. There were three food stations, serving small plates featuring Beehive Cheese. Music from Pat Briggs filled the air. It was a mellow, relaxing, end-of-summer evening featuring beer and cheese, spent under a beautiful sunset and a spectacular view of the gardens.

Roosters Brewing Co. hails from Ogden, with two locations offering pub style cuisine and freshly brewed beer. There were two beer stations serving Roosters beer on tap. I enjoyed the Two-Bit Amber, named after Ogden’s heyday where you could “satisfy every earthly desire for a mere twenty-five cents on Historic 25th Street in Ogden.” It’s made with three varieties of hops, roasted barley and a caramel malt. I adore dark beer, so I was thrilled to find a new favorite with the Junction City Chocolate Stout. It was rich and robust, made with chocolate malt. I had every intention to try the rest of their brews, but I kept asking for the Chocolate Stout—I couldn’t help myself.

The small plates were humble, letting the Beehive Cheese shine. Local peaches, grilled and paired with goat cheese atop a crunchy crostini, were utterly delectable. This simple appetizer was one of the best dishes I sampled. I also enjoyed the salad comprised of heirloom tomatoes and watermelon, spotted with blueberries and Beehive Fresh cheese, a mozzarella-like cheese with buttery notes—the taste of summer in a few bites. The most impressive use of Beehive Cheese was a tostada with hummus, jicama and avocado topped with melted cheese. Large chunks of Promontory cheese were melted underneath a heat lamp and sliced off as each attendee picked up their dish, kind of like a gyro spit, but with cheese. This was so cool to watch! It was way more impressive than a chocolate fountain; I predict this will be a new trend for parties. For dessert, mini apple pies paired with the Beehive Cheese samples. There were also decadent chocolate cupcakes made with Chocolate Stout with frosting made with Promontory cheese. I regret not smuggling a few of these out.

Finally, the cheese table. It was glorious, with endless samples of their award-winning cheese. Guests were encouraged to sample every cheese that Beehive Cheese Co. produces along with their special Rusk crackers, crunchy and flavorful morsels with dried cherries, rosemary, whole grains, seeds, nuts and honey—the ideal vehicle for the cheese. I (repeatedly) sampled the addictive Squeaky Bee Curds. I love their firm, toothsome texture. Another cheese I can’t keep my hands off is the Barely Buzzed, Beehive’s most popular cheese. Hand–rubbed with lavender and espresso, with mellow notes of butterscotch and caramel—this cheese is heavenly and paired quite well with my Chocolate Stout.

Enjoying local food and drink among the largest botanical garden in the West is a wonderful thing, and a great idea for a fundraiser. There were plenty of passionate and knowledgeable volunteers sharing information about the garden. As a first time guest, I was utterly impressed by the gardens and the passion behind each of the volunteers. Red Butte Garden is truly unique, a sanctuary within the city where you can lose yourself for a few hours. They offer many different activities and events, to learn more about Red Butte Garden, check out their website and follow them on Facebook.