Border Battle: Minnesota and Wisconsin artisanal cheeses
This year, we’re highlighting local favorites from Minnesota and Wisconsin cheesemakers. Spoiler alert: they’re all winners in our book!
Meet the cheeses:
Redhead Creamery Rav’n Mad Cheddar
- Made in Brooten, Minnesota, by cheesemaker Alise Sjostrom
- Rav’n Mad began as a collaboration between ENKI Brewing in Victoria, Minnesota, and Readhead Creamery to create a new Minnesota beer cheddar. Alise and her team fell in love with ENKI’s Raven Russian Imperial Stout and knew it would blend well with cheddar curd.
- The creamy, sweet and malty notes of the stout balance nicely with the cheddar profile.
- Works well with French onion soup or in a grilled cheese sandwich. Pairs well with a stout or your favorite dark beer.
Alemar Cheese Good Thunder
- Made by cheesemakers Craig Hageman and Alexandra Adams in the Food Building in Northeast Minneapolis.
- Alemar Cheese began in Mankato, Minnesota, and this cheese – Good Thunder – is named after a small town not far from Mankato.
- Good Thunder is a washed-rind, orange cheese. It’s washed in Surly Bender beer, cultures and salt weekly for three weeks, which produces an incredible flavor. It’s then aged for six to eight weeks in refrigeration. As it aged, it will become softer and funkier with a dense cream line and spreadable paste.
- It’s meaty and bold, which makes it a great partner for a malty ale, well-seasoned salami and spiced nuts.
Shepherd’s Way Farms Friesago
- Made in Nerstrand, Minnesota, by cheesemaker Jodi Olson-Read and shepherd Steven Read.
- This award-winning farmstead cheese is the result of a true family-run operation. Dad’s the shepherd, Mom’s the cheesemaker and their four sons all contribute to the business.
- This natural-rinded sheep’s milk cheese is aged for roughly three months. It has a dense texture with a pleasantly mild flavor and a slightly nutty finish. It’s the southeastern Minnesota version of an Asiago cheese.
- Friesago is a milky, nutty, umami-rich wheel that makes for an ideal table cheese. It’s incredibly versatile and great for cooking. Try it grated on pasta, soup, salads and even egg dishes.
- It pairs well with farmhouse ales and sours, Merlot or Riesling.
Sartori Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago
- Made in Antigo, Wisconsin, by two master cheesemakers.
- The Sartori family has been making cheese for over 68 years with a focus on Italian-style cheeses made from pasteurized cow’s milk.
- This mouthwatering cheese is rubbed with olive oil and rosemary to create a savory, full-bodied flavor with a rich, nutty taste. It’s aged for approximately eight months in Italian style.
- Sartori Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago is outstanding on a cheeseboard and is a great cheese to cook with.
- Pairs well with Chianti, Chardonnay, Sherry, Porter, IPAs and American Pale Ales.
Carr Valley Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar
- Made in La Valle, Wisconsin, by Sid Cook, fourth generation master cheesemaker. Carr Valley is owned and operation by the Cook family.
- This award-winning cheese has the perfect balance of tart from the cranberries and spicy from the chipotle. The heat sneaks up on the finish!
- Try slices of it in your favorite sandwich or melt on grilled chicken or burgers.
- Pairs well with your favorite beer or tequila.
Roth Cheese Grand Cru Reserve
- Made in Monroe, Wisconsin, by Roth Cheese – a division of Emmi Roth USA – which has a long, storied history of cheesemaking and importing cheese.
- Grand Cru is an Alpine-style cheese in the same category as the time-honored Gruyere.
- The robust, full-bodied Grand Cru Reserve is handcrafted in some of the finest and largest copper vats in the country.
- Hand-selected wheels of Original Grand Cru are aged for at least six months, which results in the crowd-pleasing Grand Cru Reserve.
- The bold, savory flavor profile works well with sweet fruit jam and fresh or dried apricots.
- Pairs well with Riesling, bock beer or an IPA.
Looking for some cheeseboard inspiration? Here’s our quick how-to template for building a cheeseboard, or our guide for creating the ultimate cheeseboard. Plus, a specialty cheeseboard guide – complete with a recipe for Spiced Cranberry Jam.
If you want more ideas, inspiration, or recommendations, stop by our cheese department and talk to a cheese specialist.