Cheddar? I barely know 'er!
April 3, 2008 2:21 PM   Subscribe

I would like sharp cheddar. The best sharp cheddar recommendations you've got. Complex, subtle cheddars are great, but I'm also feenin' for cheddar that is sharp beyond belief. So if you don't have the cheddar equivalent of a 25-year old Bowmore, a perfectly acceptable alternative is the cheddar equivalent of a ziploc bag full of Everclear. Let the cheese strike my taste buds, hard.
posted by Greg Nog to Food & Drink (46 answers total) 100 users marked this as a favorite
Best. Ask. Ever.

Tillamook Sharp Cheddar has a pretty good kick. And you can get it in 10 pound blocks.
posted by troubadour at 2:30 PM on April 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Tillamook's Vintage White Extra Sharp cheddar is pretty darn sharp, too.
posted by booknerd at 2:31 PM on April 3, 2008

Cabot Farms Private Stock is pretty sharp. I think it's even sharper than their "Seriously Sharp" (scroll down for the Private Stock). I don't think you can get it in stores, but it is available online (much to this Texan's delight) (look under "waxed cheeses" or in the gift baskets). If Private Stock isn't much, much sharper than anything Tillamook produces, I'll eat my hat.

Cabot Farms also makes delicious flavored cheeses. I like Garlic & Herb or Horseradish Cheddar.

Ha! I'm not wearing a hat!
posted by muddgirl at 2:33 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Twin Oaks aged cheddar is excellent. I've had the stuff that's been aged for 4 years, and it was incredibly good.
posted by skwm at 2:35 PM on April 3, 2008

Response by poster: muddgirl: I actually got a big-ass block of Private Stock as a Christmas present, but although it was amazing (oh my god yes it was amazing, the angels did sing as I cut each slice) it wasn't quite as sharp as the cheese from the elusive Yankee Cheeseman, so I'm sure there are all manner of other hidden gems in this world. Keep 'em comin', by brothers and sisters!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2008

Seconding the Tillamook Vintage White. It's local for me and damn tasty.
posted by karmaville at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2008

Cabot Seriously Sharp has always seemed zingy enough for me, but I can get the Private Stock in stores here (couldn't tell the difference but the price sure is different - I may not have a refined enough palate) so email me if you need some mailed down someplace. However if I were you I'd email a real cheesemonger (say hi to Gordpn he's a friend of mine) because the average person can only sample so many cheeses and it's this guy's job to know what the what is about cheddar and all other cheeses.
posted by jessamyn at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2008

Isle of Mull cheddar - from Scotland; quite sharp, slightly bitter finish. Not for everyone, but I love it. Gettable at Whole Foods, and good independent cheese shops.

Cabot 4-year - it's likely findable at Whole Foods, which is where I usually get it.

I'll think of more...
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on April 3, 2008

I'm obsessed with the earthy, nutty, flavor of Coastal cheddar.
posted by dagnyduquette at 2:43 PM on April 3, 2008

What you want is proper British cheddar, in particularly mature cheddars - which should be available in your local fancy grocery.
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on April 3, 2008

Some will laugh, but on the budget side, try MacLaren's Imperial Sharp Cold Pack Cheddar Cheese, it's sharp, crumbly, tangy.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 2:44 PM on April 3, 2008

Balderson 5 Year, yummy.
posted by Cosine at 2:45 PM on April 3, 2008

I was wrong about the Cabot - it's Grafton that has the 4-year-aged. Fabulous stuff.
posted by rtha at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2008

Shelburne Farms has great cheddar. It is sharp but also caramel-y.

The best cheddar evar was the Carr Valley 10 year, but there is no more in existence. I think about it every time I go to the cheese store. They have a 6 yr, which is sharp and good, but nothing touches the 10 year. It had these awesome protein crystals like a good parmesan does and it was so intense and rich. I miss you, Carr Valley 10 year! Please come back to me!

so anyway, try the 6 year or the Shelburne Farms. And in a few years, get the CV 10 and write to me as you cry between bites.
posted by rmless at 2:50 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love me some Tillamook -- various Tillamook products are the standard cheeses in my household -- but it's not really all that sharp. My go-to sharp cheese is Black Diamond Canadian Extra Sharp, due to how easy it is to come by. It's of surprisingly high quality for a mass-market product.
posted by majick at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2008

I used to be addicted to the not-too-expensive Canadian Cheddar found at Shop'n'Save in Maine. They're called Hannaford now, and I don't know if they have it any more, and I don't think it had an identifiable brand name, but if you can find a cheddar scout in that region to check it out, do.

On preview, it might be the same as what Null Pointer suggests, but minus the branding.
posted by dizziest at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2008

My friend, my friend. We should start a club. I have traveled far and wide in search of the mightiest cheese. My journey has revealed but one that trumps all others. My mouth laughs at these petty recommendations from these cheese novices (hear it laughing - ha ha.)
I have the cheese you need.

Frankenmuth 11-year. BEHOLD AND TREMBLE, MORTAL.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:56 PM on April 3, 2008 [5 favorites]

My favourite is Neal's Yard Montgomery. I find it at Whole Foods here in Seattle.
posted by j.edwards at 2:58 PM on April 3, 2008

I had this stuff while on vacation, and recall it being pretty sharp.

on preview: it's the same one rtha recommends.
posted by dubold at 3:02 PM on April 3, 2008

Dubliner. Grafton Village Cheddar. Extra-aged Gouda is also good, such as Beemster XO. I also get this stuff generically called "English Coastal Cheddar" from Trader Joe's that is very good.
posted by fiercekitten at 3:11 PM on April 3, 2008

If you find yourself in Australia with a similar need, look for Mersey Valley Vintage Club. It's tasty-licious.
posted by twirlypen at 3:13 PM on April 3, 2008

As soon as I get paid next week, I'm going on an internet cheese-buying spree. Thank you for posting this!
posted by booknerd at 3:23 PM on April 3, 2008

Second majick's "Black Diamond Canadian Extra Sharp" reccomendation. It's quite likely to be the sharpest easy-to-find cheese out there. A lot of the cheese people are recommending is almost certainly excellent and sharp but I've never heard of it much less seen it while there are 3 supermarkets within walking distance of me that carry the Black Diamond.
posted by Justinian at 3:42 PM on April 3, 2008

I'm going to put myself out on the line here...

Kraft's Imperial Cheddar -- the one in a little red plastic tub (at least that's how it came in Canada)

I would normally avoid anything with a Kraft label on it at all costs, never mind a Kraft "cheese". But I love sharp cheddar, too, and that little red tub of Krafty cheddaresque cheese really does the trick. I wouldn't put it up against a proper cheddar, but it's got a real kick and I used to buy it once in a while because, well, sometimes you just want a cheddar that puts the fear into you.
posted by alaaarm at 3:45 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I also get this stuff generically called "English Coastal Cheddar" from Trader Joe's that is very good.

Second this. It's inexpensive, too, and works great by itself or in dishes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:06 PM on April 3, 2008

I got something at Trader Joe's, might have been called Dubliner cheddar, it was cylindrical and covered in green wax. Very good, much sharper and more flavorful than Tillamook extra sharp.
posted by yohko at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2008

nthing Grafton Village. The old, expensive Grafton cheddars in wax are some of the best and sharpest I've had.
posted by RogerB at 4:30 PM on April 3, 2008

OMG. OMG. OMG. You must be me, this is the question of my life.

When it comes to the cheeses in everyday grocery stores (the only ones I can afford), yes, Tillamook Extra Sharp rules over all others. Still, my complaint is that it doesn't bite back enough. Land of Lakes has an okay-I-guess extra sharp, but their Monterey Jack is sharper. Or was it Cheddarella? Whatever it was, something not-cheddar by Land of Lakes comes in second to Tillamook's Extra Sharp.

Why things such as "mild cheddar" exist, I have no idea. Barbarians!
posted by Xere at 4:32 PM on April 3, 2008

The Neal's Yard Montgomery's mentioned above is excellent. In general, any Neal's Yard aged cheese is likely to be quite good. I'm also a fan of the Keen's Cheddar.
posted by pombe at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2008

Fiscalini. Hands down. Best cheddar ever.

Every year for my birthday, I throw a "bring your favorite cheese" party, and this was the hit, as I knew it would be. So good.
posted by judith at 4:50 PM on April 3, 2008

Looking forward to trying out some these great suggestions...not to derail but I had to share that I tried some horseradish flavored cheddar on new years and wowzah!!! was I blown away. I've been forced to ration my intake because I've been putting it in everything. Anyone else feel me here?
posted by stavx at 5:08 PM on April 3, 2008

Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese Company
Guided tours and movie focus on Wisconsin's rich dairy heritage. Fresh cheese curds and ice cream. Retail outlet and an observation window.
Call 715-435-3144.
Hwys 34 and C, 6860 State Highway 34, Rudolph, Wood County
posted by mamaraks at 5:13 PM on April 3, 2008

Third?ing "Black Diamond Canadian Extra Sharp." I weep for all the years this cheese eluded me, when it was probably sitting right there in my grocery next to the decidedly second-best Tillamook Extra Sharp (sorry all you Tillamook lovers!).

I had a friend who once worked on the Tillamook cheese "assembly" line. She said the guys "cutting the cheese" used to amuse themselves by fashioning genitalia out of the cheese and putting it on the conveyor belt to be conveyed down to the ladies packaging it. Since then, I can never get that image out of my mind. I know this will probably be a selling point for the Tillamook to most of you miscreants. : )
posted by Enroute at 5:32 PM on April 3, 2008 [4 favorites]

I like the cheeses from Sugarbush Farm, cheddar included.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:48 PM on April 3, 2008

nthing Grafton, but, according to Jeffrey Roberts' Atlas of American Artisanal Cheese, beyond the 4-year-old, Grafton offers (probably only from time to time, and probably mostly at the factory):
--Five Star Cheddar: Aged five years -- "firm, rich, caramel"
--Stone House Cheddar: Aged six years -- "firm, crystalline, caramel"

Here's a cheese author's rundown on this question, mentioning several of our nominees. Will you get some of all of these and invite us to the tasting?
posted by beagle at 7:17 PM on April 3, 2008

x2 on the Imperial sharp stuff in the red tub. I think it's not 'really' cheddar (processed in some way) but on the cheap if definitely provides that old crumbly cheese flavour fix.
posted by drmarcj at 7:22 PM on April 3, 2008

Cabot Private Stock (1.5 years), or Cabot "Old School" (5 years).
posted by rxrfrx at 7:42 PM on April 3, 2008

What about Cheddar from, y'know, Cheddar. I had some of the vintage stuff in a ploughman's lunch at a pub in Cheddar village and it was tremendous. BTW, that 11-year-old stuff mentioned above sounds scary and great at the same time
posted by Jakey at 2:48 AM on April 4, 2008

Washington State University's Cougar Gold cheese.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:27 AM on April 4, 2008

Among the easy to find brands, I'm a fan of Helluva Good New York Extra Sharp Cheddar. Very sharp indeed, tasty as can be, and easy to find (here in MD).

Something tells me there will be more cheddar in my belly when I go to bed tonight than there was last night. Thanks Greg Nog!
posted by Patapsco Mike at 4:53 AM on April 4, 2008

Seek out raw cheddar of (almost) any brand. Grafton is pretty decent and easy to find, others are better. You'll pay a slight premium for it, but by god, this is CHEESE, man. You wouldn't be asking this question if you cared.

Where are you buying your cheese? If you're doing it at a grocery store, you may want to branch out and hit up the deli. I don't mean the sandwich type, I mean the type that could also sell coffee, oil, and dried meats.

Whole Foods is decent, but seeing that you live in Brooklyn, you should probably never step foot in a grocery store for cheese unless you're in a rush. You need a place that has dried meat hanging in the window. The people are almost always friendly, helpful, and have some sort of magical power that lets them figure out what people want when they ask for something that is both sharp and mild.

I strongly advise against buying dried meats unless you need another food-based obsession. The difference between grocery store hormel-made prosciutto and the things hidden in the deli is.. well.. It's enough to make a vegetarian eat a pig. I've seen it, I've done it, and that's why I'm not a vegetarian anymore.

Best cheddar so far: Some block of cheese I bought on a snowboarding trip to VT. I asked the guy about it, and he said it was made either "up north" or "up in the loft," and that's all the info I got. No brand, unmarked wax, crystals, delicious, and almost gone. I am sad.
posted by onedarkride at 5:30 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dude. You life in Williamsburg and haven't discovered the Bedford Cheese Shop? One of their employees, Martin, really knows his stuff. I just went to a cheese tasting that he hosted on Tuesday and it was fantastic. Go there; you will not be disappointed.
posted by kdar at 6:07 AM on April 4, 2008

The best, sharpest cheddar I've ever had was the 7-year aged cheddar from Hook's Cheese Company in Wisconsin. They have a stand every Saturday May-October at the Dane County Farmers' Market on the capitol square in Madison. They don't appear to have a website of their own, but if the linked page is to be believed you can call them and order from them. They also have a 10-year aged cheddar which I haven't had, as they didn't start selling that until after I moved out of Madison.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:08 AM on April 4, 2008

I clicked your profile, saddened by the knowledge that you are probably not in NYC and therefore it's no use for me to tell you about the lady with the unbelievable cave aged cheddar at the tiny greenmarket in front of Lincoln Center. But lo!

I'm not a cheddar fan even, but this stuff makes me go a little crazy it's so good. She sells nothing but three cheeses, and all are good, but the cave aged cheddar is the best cheese I've ever had.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:49 PM on April 4, 2008

Montgomery's is amazing, but not exactly sharp. Keen's and Fiscalini were what came to mind immediately. But get thee to a cheesemonger and start tasting -- people mean different things by 'sharp.'
posted by desuetude at 12:03 PM on April 5, 2008

Response by poster: Word up, damies! I just wanted to thank all of you for the advice in cheese-procurement. I'm not marking any as "Best Answer" only because I know it'll take me a while to get through all of these (and ideally, I'd like to try every cheese recommended to me in this thread).

Anyway, I recently returned from New England with about four pounds of various sharp cheddars, so my journey shall begin with those. As I run out of that, I'll mail-order some of your other suggestions through the internet. You've all been quite helpful!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:36 PM on April 10, 2008

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