Meet a Cheese Called Sbrinz

David | Blog | November, 16 2010 | No Comment

For the next installment in the I Never Met A Cheese I Didn’t Like series we look to Switzerland to meet Sbrinz. 

“In Switzerland we call the Sbrinz the Grandfather of all cheeses,” blogged famed affinuer and Maître Fromager Rolf Beeler. “We find written proof of its existence in the Middle Ages. And there is also the claim that it is the ancestor of the Parmigiano Reggiano.”

Sbrinz is an aromatic, extra-hard AOC cheese made from high quality Alpine cow’s milk. It is formed into 90-lb. wheels and aged for 18 months and up to 4 or 5 years. Thirty two selected valley and mountain dairies produce this cheese each day from raw milk, rennet and salt.

 In his 2005 book Cheese, A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best, author and Maître Fromager Max McCalman gives Sbrinz a rating of 99 out of 100. It was one of only two cheeses in the book to rate a near-perfect 99.

“Sbrinz features a dense texture and a hard paste that begs to be grated,” McCalman says. “Its flavors are strong, spicy and nutty; nevertheless it’s creamier with less salt on the aftertaste than parmesan. When I think of true showstoppers, Sbrinz comes to mind along with strong blues such as Roquefort and Cabrales. In fact, a well-aged Sbrinz might actually be able to outdo those two flavor mongers.”

Sbrinz is said to get along well with a variety of fermented grape beverages. When pairing with beer, I would lean toward saison, a full- bodied brown ales, perhaps a Belgian-style Dubbel, as I would with most Alpines.  Because this cheese is so strong, a tripel of a strong golden is another possible, and I would not rule out a hoppy American pale ale or IPA.

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