Stinky Cheese

Stinky cheese: bring on the funk

Stinky cheese. It's the stuff of legend and the terror of children everywhere. Yet this family of big-flavored, washed-rind cheese has a huge following among devout connoisseurs and curious amateurs. Who are we to deny them the odorous pleasures of sampling these strongest of cheeses?

Stinky cheese gets its overpowering aroma from bacteria growing on the rind – the product of washing the cheese in salty brines or alcohol as it ages. Fortunately, stinky cheese has a bark that's way worse than its bite. If you can get past its aroma, the taste of a stinky cheese can be wonderfully nutty, woodsy, and complex. Whether it's Montague, Liederkranz®, or the notorious limburger, you'll find your fill of stinky cheese in Wisconsin.

Go ahead. Embrace the stinky cheese.

When it comes to stinky cheese, we think the old ways are best. A cheese like limburger or Liederkranz® is best served on dark rye with thickly sliced raw onion and pub mustard – ingredients that can stand up to the stink, look it in the eye, and not flinch. Of course, we won't say no to a crisp-crust pizza with a topping of caramelized onions and gooey Liederkranz®. A limburger on a plate of buttery potatoes and pint of bock beer is truly a thing to behold. Just be sure, when storing stinky cheese in your refrigerator, to use an airtight lid. Your housemates will thank you.

When pairing stinky cheese, you'll want to focus on drinks that can hold their own and won't back down:

  • Beer: Belgian ales, saison ale, bock, brown ale, lower-hopped IPAs, and cider.
  • Wine: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, red zinfandel, Beaujolais, or grüner veltliner make a nice wine pairing.

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FAQs: What is stinky cheese?

What is stinky cheese?

Stinky cheese is a washed-rind cheese type that features a strong, funky smell produced by bacteria growing on the cheese's exterior. While the smell of stinky cheese can be overpowering, the bacteria causes chemical reactions that help to give this soft cheese a complex, nutty, and buttery flavor.

What makes stinky cheese smell so bad?

The strong aroma of stinky cheese is created by bacteria called Brevibacterium linens or b.Linens growing on the rind, which is produced by washing the cheese in a brine of saltwater or alcohol. While the bacteria produce a pungent aroma, it also helps to ripen the cheese from the outside in to give it a complex flavor.

Why does stinky cheese smell bad but taste good?

Here's a fun cheese fact: though stinky cheese may smell unbearably bad, the taste can be pleasurable because of something called "backward smelling." The science is tricky but it boils down to this: our brain perceives a difference between the way we smell a cheese when inhaling through our nose, and how we taste the same cheese when the aroma wafts up through the mouth to the back of our nose. Something about the combination of the funky smell of stinky cheese through the back of our nose and its creamy texture on the tongue causes our brain to perceive sharp/bad smells as warm/delicious tastes.

Why Wisconsin loves the stink

In Wisconsin, we are proud to call stinky cheese our own. These full-bodied stinkers may have originated in Europe, but we've been perfecting the funky art of malodorous cheese for a century or more, and we are literally the only state in America still producing pungent powerhouses like limburger, Montague, and Liederkranz®.

See, we're all about the cheese in Wisconsin, which means we make more flavors and varieties than anywhere else on earth. We're always pushing the boundaries of what cheese can be – even if it means holding our noses once in a while.

Do you know what happens when you're dedicated to doing one thing really well? People start to notice, which is why we've won more awards than you can throw a badger at. (Kids, don't try that at home).

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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