Chalet Cheese Cooperative
Dubbed the “king of the stinky cheese,” Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, Wis., is America’s only producer of Limburger, the famous surface-ripened cheese with a pungent aroma. In fact, the 127-year-old company owned by 21 dairy farmers in Green County, produces and ships 500,000 pounds of the stinky cheese annually across the country.
Managed by master cheesemaker and America’s last traditional Limburger maker since 1992, Myron Olson has been making cheese for the last 43 years. At Chalet, he manages 24 employees and mentors eight licensed cheesemakers. Since the 1930s, Olson is just the third manager at Chalet.
Made the old-fashioned, labor-intensive way as it was over a century ago, Limburger is a cheese that originated in Belgium. Once formed, the individual pieces of cheese, which are molded into the shape and size of small bricks, are laid side-by-side on specially cured pine boards. Bacteria grows on the pine boards and it inoculates the cheese and protects it from other bacteria that could grow.
Kept in Chalet’s cool and moist cellar, the white Limburger bricks are hand washed with a B-linen bacteria solution and are turned twice over a seven-day period. During this time, the bacteria introduced on the surface of the cheese ripens the cheese from the outside in and begins Limburger’s transformation into a buttery, pungent, aromatic cheese when fully aged. Finally, each piece of cheese is hand-wrapped in parchment and waxed paper and readied for shipping.
In addition to its notorious flagship Limburger, Chalet also produces national and international award-winning Swiss, Natural Smoked Swiss, Baby Swiss, German Brick, Muenster and petite Muenster, as well as traditional Cheddar cheese varieties.
Chalet Cheese Cooperative
N4868 Highway N
Monroe, WI 53566
Phone: (608) 325-4343
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There aren’t many husband and wife combos in Wisconsin who are married to cheesemaking like Tony and Julie Hook. With over 70 years of cheesemaking experience between them, the owners of Hook’s Cheese Company in Mineral Point, Wis., take pride in producing 40-plus varieties of cheese that consumers across the state of Wisconsin have come to appreciate.
A supporter of family farms, Hook’s purchases all of its milk from small dairy farmers in the Mineral Point area.
Tony and Julie formed Hook’s Cheese Company in 1976 and began producing Cheddar and Swiss cheeses. In 1980, they expanded into Colby, Monterey Jack, some flavored Jacks and Marble Jack.
In 1982, Julie’s Colby won the “Best of Class” award in the World Cheese Championship. It was also judged the “Finest Cheese in the World,” defeating 482 other entries from 14 states and sixteen countries. To date, Julie is the only woman in the history of cheesemaking to win the World Championship.
In 1987 Hook’s outgrew its rural Mineral Point cheese factory and moved into a larger facility in the historic “Shake Rag” district of scenic Mineral Point. The new home, which was built into the hills of Mineral Point over 150 years ago during the area’s mining era, has allowed Hook’s to store and cure larger quantities of cheese.
Hook’s curing caves are temperature-controlled, which allows for a slow curing process. Every few months each batch is taste-tested to ensure that only the highest quality cheeses are saved to age.
Known for their moist and creamy aged Cheddars, they have Cheddars that go from one year all the way to 15 years. In 2015, they’ll have a 20-year Cheddar available. In 2006, the 10 year cheddar won first place from the American Cheese Society.
In 1997, Hook’s began producing Blue Cheese. The cave to cure the blue is kept at a higher temperature and a high humidity to allow the blue mold to develop. In 2001, the company began making Gorgonzola. In 2004, the company developed two new blue-veined cheeses – Tilston Point, a drier, washed-rined blue, and Blue Paradise, a double-cream blue.
Hook’s currently sells over 40 varieties of cheese. Besides aged cheddar, they also produce several varieties of Swiss and blue cheese. Three newer cheeses are Little Boy Blue (took first place at the 2011 American Cheese Society Competition and third place in the 2010 World Cheese Championship), Bloomin’ Idiot, a mild creamy cheese that is Blue only on the outside, and Red Errigal, a sheep’s and cow’s mixed-milk cheese that is a mild and somewhat sweet cheese.
Hook’s Cheese Company, Inc.
320 Commerce Street
Mineral Point, WI 53565
Phone: (608) 987-3259