Taste ‘The Stinkies’ at Wisconsin Cheese Masters’ Stinkfest

Jim Pionkoski of Wisconsin Cheese Masters hopes he can entice some newcomers to stinky cheeses at his Stinkfest.

“This is the first-time ever sampling it for us,” he said. “The main customer we have been getting in has always been somebody buying it for their father. We’re hoping we get a lot of people here to try it for the first time and take some home, not just for their 80-year-old father but for others in the family.”

He will serve the Limburger the traditional way, with rye and a slice of onion.

“The taste is fabulous,” he said.

Master Limburger maker Myron Olson would add that it should be “washed down with beer.”

But he has another suggestion for Limburger newbies.

“Try the rye bread with strawberry jam,” he said. “Europeans would eat cheese three times a day. They’d have it in the morning with toast, and the big debate was, strawberry or grape jam or honey? The sweet and strong flavors really go good together.”

Pionkoski will also serve aged brick from Widmer’s Cheese Cellar. Brick is also known as “The Married Man’s Limburger,” which suggests that only bachelors eat Limburger.

Olson, also a master brick maker, said the two stinky cheeses are related.

“They’re cousins,” he said. “The base cheese is different so they age different, but we use the same bacteria. It will be the same bacteria you find on Gruyere and a lot of the specialty cheeses that are being made now. It’s called a B. Linens bacteria.”

Pionkoski said brick was invented at a small cheese plant near Monroe, Wis., in 1871.

“He was a Swiss cheesemaker,” he said. “I think he was 11 years old when he started making cheese and 13 when they put him in charge of the factory. He did not like dealing with the moisture content of Limburger, so he started incorporating the smear within the cheese and cut down quite a bit on the aroma, but you get the same kind of flavor and texture. It’s a little bit firmer cheese than a Limburger, but not much. It’s also got a little bit of a smell, not as strong as Limburger. That was one of the two kinds of cheese invented outside of Europe. Colby was invented in Colby Wis., and aged brick was invented in the southern part of the state. Brick cheese is so called because of the tradition of weighing down the loaves of cheese with bricks.

“We cannot open and sample our Limburger and aged brick in our store because of their incredibly strong, some might say unpleasant, odor,” Pionkoski said. “So Stinkfest is a chance for fans of these cheeses, or for the simply curious, to taste ‘The Stinkies’.”


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