Uplands Cheese: Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Pleasant Ridge Reserve is a farmstead cheese produced by Uplands Cheese in 10-pound wheels. The cheese has a nutty, grassy flavor with hints of fruitiness. The alpine-style cheese is similar to Gruyere and won best in show in 2010 by the American Cheese Society (more on that here).The cheese is only made of raw milk from cows feeding on grass during the summer months when pasture conditions are best. Aged 4 to 6 months or up to 15 months for the “extra aged” batches.
Uplands Cheese: Rush Creek Reserve
This is another farmstead cheese by Uplands cheese, but is extremely limited release. Made in the fall when the cows' diet changes over from grass to hay, this soft young cheese comes in 3/4 pound washed rind wheels, wrapped in spruce bark. Very rich and creamy with a piney woodiness from the spruce that's surprisingly mild. It's only released once a year so try and get your hands on some while it's still available!
Widmer’s: Foil Aged Brick
Brick cheese is one of Wisconsin's earliest cheese styles. The name is derived from the bricks used to press the curds (and Joe Widmer still uses the same bricks his grandfather used when he started Widmer’s in 1922). This brick comes wrapped in foil which allows the surface to breath and continue to ripen, creating a very pungent outer layer with a mildly creamy center. This is a smear style cheese where a bacteria is added during the ripening process which gives it funky, earthy flavors.
Crave Brother's: Petit Frere with Truffles
Crave Brothers is another farmstead cheese producer with many cheese varieties such as this smelly little beauty. The truffeled version of the Petit Frere is a new addition to their arsenal and has already won them first place in flavored cheese from the American Cheese Society. The semi-soft cheese has a perfect balance from the earthiness of the truffles and the potent washed rind. It's excellent cheese for melting on burgers or with a bold wine. Heck, it goes great with anything that can stand up to its strong flavors.
Widmer’s: Brick Spread
Yes, this a spread. Yes, you will have to do some coaxing to get your cheese snob friends to eat this. But I guarantee that this deliciously soft and spreadable cheese will be the first to disappear off the table. Nicknamed "cheese crack," the spread is a mixture of the pungent brick and cheddar. It goes great with just about anything you can spread it on; also, with beer.
Widmer’s: 8-Year-Old Cheddar
Woah, this one's sharp and explosively rich on the tongue. Eight years isn't the oldest the Widmer family sells but the aging process requires lots of attention and few cheeses actually good enough to make it to this mark. Pair it with something sweet to cut through the sharpness, or just eat it plain. Almost too crumbly to cut with a knife.
This is an interesting cheese that may surprise you if you bought a whole ball not knowing what you were getting yourself into. Warm, mild provolone cheese is wrapped around a half pound of butter and as it ages, they both begin to draw from each other’s flavors. Butter is good and so is cheese, so it makes perfect sense. Spread the butter on some good-quality bread then top it with the provolone, and you're set. Also would make a killer grilled cheese!
Roth Käse: Gran Queso
This Manchego-like cheese is another American Cheese Society winning cheese. Unlike traditional manchego, which is all sheep's milk, this one is made with all cow's milk. This dry nutty cheese is painted with cinnamon and paprika during the six month aging process giving it a bright orange hard rind. Gran Queso is perfect on its own or served like a Manchego with tapas, quince paste, and/or a light white wine.
Roth Käse: Moody Blue
A fun twist on a classic blue. Even people who typically avoid blues might enjoy this strong smoky flavor. The fruitwood smoke gives the rind a brownish hue that penetrates the creamy blue cheese and gives it an almost meaty flavor. Crumbly like a traditional blue and creamy in the mouth like a Danish blue. I can’t get over how delicious the smoke flavoring is and how it mellows the typical blue cheese bite. This cheese would go great on burgers or salads or with a strong dark beer.
Country Castle: Limburger
It isn't a coincidence that I saved this cheese for last, and if you are organizing a cheese tasting, so should you. Limburger is notoriously stinky, like smelly feet stinky; it's not for everyone. Limburger is another smear type cheese that can be served at a variety of different times depending on how strong you like it. At two weeks it is firm and kind of crumbly like a feta; as it ages longer it starts to get more ripe and at four months, it begins to soften and flatten, even under its own weight. This is the traditional way Wisconsinites from the area around the Chalet Cheese co-op like to eat it. Chalet is the only cheese plant in the U.S. that produces Limburger and the Master Cheese Maker Myron Olson has been proudly doing it for 40 years. He recommends eating it the traditional way, on a dark rye or pumpernickel bread with German mustard and thick slices or raw onion.