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Bear Hill

Producer
Grafton Village Cheese
Country
United States
Region
Vermont
Size
Various
Weight
Various
Website
http://www.graftonvillagecheese.com/
Milk
Sheep
Treatment
Raw
Classification
Firm
Rennet
Microbial
Rind
Washed
Style
Alpine-style
Washed-Rind

The Grafton Village Cheese Company was founded in 1892 as the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company, which converted surplus milk from local dairy farmers into cheese. Years later, a fire destroyed the original factory. When the nonprofit Windham Foundation restored the company in the mid 1960s, a new era for the town was born. Today, Grafton Cheese handcrafts artisanal, aged cheddar and specialty cheeses that are recognized for quality and taste on a worldwide scale. Proceeds from the sale of these cheeses support the Windham Foundation’s charitable efforts.

Named for the bluff overlooking Grafton Village’s cheesemaking headquarters in Vermont, Bear Hill is truly an American original – just as cheesemaker Dane Huebner wanted it. “When I create new cheeses,” he explains, “I look for holes in the marketplace. If a cheese doesn’t exist, I try to come up with something that can fill that spot. Mixed milk, mold-ripened cheese...there’s not a lot of that out there, as well as hard...[cheeses] from sheep.”

Loosely following the make processes of continental cheeses like Emmentaler and Gouda, Bear Hill begins with 100% sheep’s milk – but the similarities end when the fresh cheese is taken out of the hoop, dry-salted, and washed with a bacteria and yeast solution. As Bear Hill ages over 5 months, washings occur less and less, while the flavor grows more and more complex.

Tasting Notes

The cheese is mild as far as washed rinds go, but that’s not to say this cheese doesn’t do a lot of talking. Milky, fruity, and nutty, Bear Hill delivers the sweetness of sheep’s milk without any barnyard aromas.

Pairings

Bear Hill can pair beautifully with many different beers. Cheesemaker Dane Huebner recommends a malty beer with a little hop, like Otter Creek’s Oktoberfest. For wine pairings, try an Alsace Riesling, a Pinot Blanc, or a Gruner Veltliner.

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