Roelli Red Rock Cheese
The Roelli family emigrated from Switzerland to Wisconsin in the early 1920's. Three generations of the Roelli family ran the cheese operation, building it into a commodity cheddar cheese producer. The economy shut the factory down in 1991. The founder's great grandson Chris Roelli reopened a small artisan cheese factory, the Roelli Cheese Haus Factory, in 2006 on the corner of highways 11 and 23 6 miles east of Shullsberg Wisconsin.
Roelli Red Rock Cheese is a bloomy rind cheddar with periodic blue cheese veins that look like a 10 penny nail pierced into the cheese. The cheese is firm and square with a funky, moldy, grayish brown bloomy rind with traces of green that looks like it was excavated from an archaeological site. The smell has some nutty cheddar notes joined by a light, funky blue cheese tang. The cheese starts fruity, nutty and tangy on the tongue and as it dissolves a bit of crystalline crunch and a trace of grit comes through. The blue cheese element is there but not overboard and not enough to drowned out the aged cheddar notes. There is a little bitter on the finish. I am having this with a HammerHeart Weltanwanderer, a Bamberg-style Rauchbier (5.5% alcohol by volume) that brings some smoky, bacon notes to the table and it marries beautifully with the cheese's cheddar, nutty and blue cheese notes. I also tried Roelli Red Rock Cheese with Ommegang Three Philosophers - a blend of Belgian quadruple and Belgian kriek (wild fermented cherry flavored beer) aged in bourbon barrels. This beer also has the stones to stand up to a strong cheese like Roelli Red Rock and brings flavors that add to the cheese such as bourbon, vanilla, cherry, dried fruit, and dark malt notes - all flavors you might put on a plate with the cheese. The Roelli Red Rock is a US Cheese Championship Winner and is a perfect companion for big bold beer. I rate it 85. The pairing with the HammerHeart Weltanwanderer is an 87 and the Ommegang Three Philosophers aged in bourbon barrels is a 90. The Ommegang gets a couple more points than the HammerHeart due to its richer malt flavors and marvelous bourbon notes.