Produced in the village of Kuenten, about 10 miles outside Zurich in Switzerland, Bierdeckel is the product of an ongoing collaboration between cheesemaker Sepp Brüelisauer and Rolf Beeler, a highly acclaimed affineur (cheese maturer) and Master Cheesemonger.
The late 1990’s saw the easing of extremely strict Swiss cheesemaking regulations. This meant that although some producers remain dedicated to making very traditional Swiss cheeses, many new and innovative cheesemakers also entered the market.
Beeler, who has been affectionately dubbed by his peers as “Switzerland’s Pope of Cheese” owns a cheese shop in Lucerne dedicated to selling fine Swiss cheeses made by small-scale cheesemakers. His home town is located close to Kuenten and about 15 years ago, Beeler and Bruelisauer started working together - a partnership that has produced some very innovative cheeses that also maintain the spirit of Swiss cheesemaking tradition.
In the late 1990’s, Beeler also formed a partnership with Caroline Hostettler, who was among the first to import quality artisanal Swiss cheese into the USA, thereby bringing Beeler’s cheeses to a wider audience.
Rolf and Sepp’s inspiration for this Bierdeckel was to create something that texturally resembles a perfectly ripe Taleggio combined with the flavor and aroma of an Epoisses. Milk for production of Bierdeckel is sourced locally from herds of Red Swiss cows.
Young cheeses are brined and lightly pressed before being matured in an aging cellar for four weeks. Bierdeckel, which literally translates as “beermat”, is washed in unfermented wheat beer during the maturing process.
Bierdeckel has a very aromatic dark orange rind dotted with with dark brown flecks and an interior that is ivory to light yellow. The rind has a slightly granular texture that contrasts nicely with a pliant paste, often dotted with small “eyes” or holes.
Bierdeckel’s flavor is a subtle reflection of its aroma which is tangy with a bit of salt. It has a perfume-like quality that lingers on the nose.
The cheese is best paired with, not surprisingly, wheat beers. Bierdeckel is also a great cheese to pair with dry sparkling wines, or a fruit forward red wine such as Malbec. Recommended accompaniments include grainy mustard and cornichon, or a dark honey, such as one made from Buckwheat.