Berkshire Blue has been produced since 2000 in Berkshire County, MA. Cheesemaker Ira Gramble took over the production of the British Stilton-inspired cheese from Michael Miller in 2009. Since then, he’s continued to produce the Western MA classic in a process modeled after that of Willett Dairy in Somerset, England.
The raw Jersey cow’s milk used for Berkshire Blue is sourced from nearby Hav’s farm in Tyringham, MA. Besides the truck used to transport the milk and the pump and heating and refrigeration equipment, no other machinery is used in producing the cheese. To make it, three starter cultures are added to the raw milk (two types of blue mold and one type of white), along with vegetable rennet. The curds are hand-stirred, hand-cut and hand-ladled into three-pound molds, then turned and poked with needles to allow blue veining to form during aging. After being brined, wheels are sent to a draining room where they’re turned periodically over two days. Finally, they spend between 30 and 40 days in the maturation room, and then 15 days in a cold room until the aging period of 60 days is complete.
Using Jersey milk, famous for its high fat content, yields a cheese that is similar to a Stilton but that is even more smooth and creamy. Flavor is subtle with hints of barnyard and hay.
Pair it with a Port, a Reisling or a Sauterne. For beer pairings, try a stout.