Master cheese-maker Walter Räss has managed the family run Kasserei Tufertschwil nestled in the Swiss Canton of St. Gallen since 1987. With the help of his wife and a part time employee they produce 85 tons of cheese per year. Thirteen farms, within about a one mile radius, deliver milk from Jersey cows twice daily to the dairy. Jersey cow milk has a higher fat content than the traditional Brown Swiss cows. Räss took the recipe for Appenzeller cheese, changed the curd size, modified the cooking temperatures, and lengthened the aging time create Challerhocker (pronounced holler hocker and means sitting in the cellar). It is a brine and spice washed Swiss cheese made from full cream cows milk that is aged for a minimum of 12 months.
Challerhocker has a firm, semi-hard white to ecru paste with very few eyes. The wheels are 15 pounds with a dusty brown rind. Challerhocker is printed around the side and pictures of a laughing boy are on the top. The aroma is not overpowering, offering a clean smell of nuts, some cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale), and a hint of caramel. It is a little fudgey having a firm, smooth texture with a little grain - less then Gruyère - in the background. You can't quite roll it into a ball but it melts in your mouth. The flavors suggested by the aroma are more pronounced on the tongue and there is a hint of onion, rich buttery and creamy nut flavors. I am eating the cheese with a 12welve Eyes Ethel Beavers, an Extra Special Bitter with a nice dose of nutty brown bread and bread crust flavors seasoned by a mild hop flavor and bitterness and the result is like a nutty brown bread cheese sandwich. The caramel and malt notes in the beer bring out the caramel and traces of malt in the cheese and the nuttiness in the cheese and beer complement each other. The beer also brings out the vegetable notes in the cheese. The cheese and the beer take each other to new places, work very well together and improve each other and produce a pleasant, lingering nutty aftertaste. Challerhocker will also pair nicely with brown ale, Doppelbock, and Oktoberfest beers - anything nutty and malty.