Brick Cheese

Brick Cheese: A True Wisconsin Stinker

Once upon a time, brick cheese was considered as a fine substitute for limburger by early German immigrants to Wisconsin. Strong enough to satisfy that limburger craving, it was still less pungent than its European ancestor. Today, it remains a favorite with cheese lovers. When young, brick cheese is deliciously mild. But given some time to ripen, it develops some serious pungency and tang.

The world can thank Wisconsin for this mini-stinker. First crafted in 1877 by Wisconsin cheesemaker, John Jossi, and named for the bricks used to press the curds, traditional brick cheese is brined and then transferred to a warm room to encourage the bacteria that gives this cheese its distinctive flavor. The cheese is then also washed with brine by hand to keep the process going. The result: a somewhat softer taste with a deliciously sharper finish.

Slice it for sandwiches, melt it with polenta, or dollop it on your pizza. Brick cheese adds tangy flavor and creamy texture to any dish.

Finding BFFs for your brick cheese

Young brick cheese goes great with macaroni, potatoes au gratin, or sliced on a meat and cheese platter. Mature brick is a natural with the hearty sandwich crowd – try a rye with spicy pub mustard and sautéed onion.

Wisconsin brick cheese likes to pal around with salt-of-the-earth beverages that can match its colorful character. For beers, try a bock, stout, pale ale, weiss beer, porter, or brown ale. For a wine and cheese pairing, you can't go wrong with a chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, sauvignon blanc or Grüner Veltliner.

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FAQs: What is brick cheese?

What is brick cheese?

Brick cheese is a semi-hard, smear-ripened, cow's milk cheese that originated in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. The name comes from the bricks originally used by cheesemakers to press the moisture from the cheese. Young brick cheese is mild-flavored with a touch of nuttiness, while aged brick cheese has more complex, pungent and tangy flavors.

How is brick cheese made?

To make brick cheese, cheesemakers introduce the same Brevibacterium linens that are used to make limburger, Liederkranz and other stinky cheese varieties. The bacteria is smeared on the rind and washed in a mixture of water and whey to allow the bacteria to grow.

Another brick in the Wisconsin cheese wall

Wisconsin is the state of cheese. Literally. We're home to 1,200 licensed cheesemakers who produce more than 600 varieties, types, and styles of cheese – double the number of any other state. One-quarter of all the cheese in the U.S. comes from Wisconsin, along with nearly half of all artisan cheese. And in the process, we've won more awards for our cheesemaking than in the other state or country in the world.

It all comes from the desire, now more than 175 years strong, to make the tastiest, most award-winning, and highest-quality cheese in the universe. Just like our very own brick cheese, Wisconsin cheesemaking is a true original that only gets better with age.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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