Named for the local stone that surrounds the room in which it is aged, Red Rock is the newest creation from up-and-coming rock star cheesemaker Chris Roelli in Shullsburg, Wisconsin.
While technically a Cheddar-Blue, Red Rock differs significantly from Roelli’s flagship cheese, Dunbarton Blue. Where the Dunbarton was designed to be an elegant table cheese, imparting the feel of an English cheddar, yet spiked with the delicate, subtle flavor of a fine blue, Red Rock is more of a working man’s cheese. Where the Dunbarton is earthy and crumbly, Red Rock is creamy and sliceable. It’s the type of cheese that will take a sandwich to the next level, yet you won’t be able to stop peeking at it between the slices of bread because it’s so strikingly beautiful.
“I view it as Dunbarton’s little cousin,” Chris Roelli says. “A few years ago at the American Cheese Society, I saw a super dark orange cloth-bound Cheddar and thought it was really striking. So that’s the look I was going for.”
Colored with twice the amount of annatto as a traditional Wisconsin Cheddar and aged between 3-6 months, Red Rock is more of a creamy Cheddar than a crumbly Blue. Roelli uses five different starter cultures to frame the flavor profile of the cheese, placing curds into 40-pound block forms to set. Once the cheese is pressed, he cuts the big blocks into smaller 5-pound loaves, hand spiking each individual loaf to let the blue mold breathe. Red Rock is then placed on racks for cellar-aging and allowed to develop a natural blue rind, while inside, deep spikes of blue mold grow through the center.
While Red Rock won’t be sold at cheese shops until mid-October (it’s still aging to perfection), early batches are currently for sale at the Roelli Cheese store between Shullsburg and Darlington. It’s too new to be included yet on the company’s online store, but will be available by Christmas.