We love brick cheese, because it’s a true Wisconsin original with deep Wisconsin roots.
Brick is one of those cheeses that goes unknown and underappreciated until you finally try your first bite. It has a sweet and earthy flavor, making it a surprisingly perfect everyday cheese for snacking, cooking and entertaining.
The reason behind its name? Bricks, of course!
John Jossi, a Swiss-born cheesemaker, invented brick 140 years ago in his adopted home of Wisconsin. Having settled with his parents in the town of Richwood, Jossi began running a small limburger cheese factory at just 14 years old! Through the years, he developed the idea for a cheese that would eventually become “brick.” Jossi envisioned a smear-ripened cheese (one that is rubbed with a special brine cocktail to develop deeper flavors) made with curd that was drier than limburger. He also had the idea of using actual bricks to press the cheese into a brick shape (hence its name).
His brand new cheese was so successful, Jossi taught his recipe to dozens of other dairies across the state, which increased its popularity and made people fall in foodie love with its pleasantly pungent flavor. Today, Wisconsin remains a national leader in brick production and contributes heavily to the hundreds of thousands of pounds of brick cheese made in the U.S. every year.
The aging process transforms brick into two completely different cheeses. Mild Wisconsin brick is similar to mozzarella but with a stronger, more robust flavor—sweet and slightly nutty with a smooth, semi-soft texture. It’s a great everyday cheese. Use it in sandwiches, salads, and macaroni & cheese, as well as atop burgers, pizza or potatoes.
Because tastes are always expanding, Wisconsin cheesemakers began aging brick to satisfy our increasingly adventurous palates. Aged Wisconsin brick is fairly pungent and similar to its smelly counterpart, limburger. It packs a seriously stinky punch and is best served all on its own or paired with complementary flavors, like red onions, rye bread and strong mustard. It IS a Wisconsin original, after all.
Trying Wisconsin brick cheese for the first time? Here’s a few summery recipes for eating this one-of-a-kind Wisconsin cheese:
If you’re having a hard time finding Wisconsin brick cheese at your local grocer or market, check our list of Wisconsin companies that make it.