NEW: Blue Earth American Brie from Alemar Cheese!

Today, we received our first order of a brand new creation from Alemar Cheese in Minnesota – Blue Earth American Brie.

Cheesemaker Keith Adams has been experimenting with a larger version of his signature Bent River for some time, and he feels that he’s finally honed in on the recipe for Blue Earth (and no, it’s not a blue, it just has blue in the title).  Keith came up with the idea over the course of many demos where people would tell him that they don’t like camembert, only brie, and move along without tasting his Bent River.  When we’ve discussed this cheese with Keith, we’ve tried to figure out the traditional differences between a brie and a camembert, but we have been finding it difficult to find the clear difference.  Online research and emails to French cheesemakers have not given us a definitive answer either.

After gathering as much information on this debate as possible, it is apparent that they share more similarities than differences.  Both of these cheeses are made using the same recipe and are inoculated with the bacteria strain, Peniciliium Candidum.  After the production of both, they are aged in similar conditions that promote the ripening process and the growth of the fleuri.  And lastly, they both possess the French AOC designation.  This designation is where the two cheeses have their differences.  Camembert’s AOC declares that it must be produced in Normandy, France using raw milk.  Brie’s AOC states that it must be produced in Ile-de-France using raw milk as well.  Lastly brie is generally larger (9-16 inches in diameter) than a Camembert (4.5 inches in diameter).

Ultimately, we all felt that the average American consumer has a set idea in their mind that brie is a salty, creamy and buttery cheese, and camembert is something like that, only stinky and stronger.  Blue Earth is Keith’s attempt at providing a contrast to Bent River, while also proving that brie can be so much more than the dumbed down product found on most supermarket shelves.

Whereas Bent River has strong vegetal elements to its flavor profile, Blue Earth is noticeably scaled back in this area.  When we tasted this cheese young, it was so rich and thick that some in our office thought it could be a triple-crème.  At a later age, the flavor profile leans more towards earthy, mineral notes, along with the requisite buttery and creamy base.  Keith and co-cheesemaker Craig Hageman intended it that way.  They tweaked with the cultures and make process so as to draw back on the sharper notes of Bent River, and create a softer, rounder profile with Blue Earth.  It’s a scaled back, more approachable counter-point to Bent River, but still complex enough to stand on its own.

While Blue Earth is still a relatively new cheese for Alemar (we are receiving official Batch 3), we have been very encouraged by the samples we’ve tasted so far.  When it comes to soft-ripened cheeses, we believe that Alemar is among the best at their craft in the US, and we expect them to hit the ground running.  What excites us most about Blue Earth is its potential to sit right next to Bent River on a cheese counter or menu, inviting tastings and conversations about the two variations on a theme.  They really belong together.

Blue Earth will be limited availability as Alemar continues to refine the recipe, gauge demand, and scale up production.  Zuercher will be bringing in limited stocks as it becomes available, and selling it on a limited first-come, first-served basis.  If you’re interested in reserving a case, please let us know.  And as always, thanks for your support!


(Keith Adams)

*AOC designated brie and camembert cannot be exported to the United States due to pasteurization laws on cheese younger than 60 days.