Chilcote Brick is made by Innes Cheese at Highfields Farm Dairy on the Thorpe Estate in south-east Staffordshire.
This family-run dairy switched from cows to goats in 1987. They now have a mixed herd numbering 350 goats, including British Saanen, British Toggenburg, British Alpine and Golden Guernsey goats. Two hundred of these goats are milked twice daily, each goat producing around three litres of milk per day.
Mother and son cheese-makers, Stella and Joe Bennett, work with a small team to produce a range of lactic goat's cheeses: Chilcote Brick, Bosworth Ash and Innes Burr, plus a Caerphilly-style hard cheese called Highfields.
To make Chilcote Brick, afternoon milk is ripened overnight in buckets using the dairy's own whey as starter culture. Next morning, fresh milk is added and also a small amount of traditional animal rennet, before being left overnight again for the curds to develop at a slow and gentle pace. Buckets are used rather than more typical larger vats in order to produce better quality curd. On the second morning, curds are hand-ladled into moulds and left to drain before each cheese is salted and turned by hand.
Chilcote Brick, named after the village next door to the farm, is ripened for three to four weeks. Its subtle milky flavour has acidity and herby notes. It ripens from the outside, with a silky and unctuous layer of breakdown developing under the rind. Its sister cheese, Bosworth Ash, is a cylindrical ash-coated log, similarly smooth but a little more earthy in flavour. A sprinkling of Penicillium and Geotrichum moulds that develop on its rind can give Bosworth Ash a touch of pepperiness.
Chilcote Brick is a cheese perfect for blue skies and summer picnics, alongside seasonal asparagus or classic beetroot. It sits well with Sauvignon Blanc, chilled Provencal rosé or a glass of fizz as the bubbles cut through its moussy texture.