Crave Brothers is a family owned and run farm, of which cheesemaking is one aspect, located in Waterloo, Wisconsin. The business is run by four brothers: Charles, Thomas, Mark and George, who all grew up on their family's 40 cow dairy in Wisconsin.
The division of labor is arranged so that each brother has an area of responsibility best suited to their interests and skills. Charles manages crops and equipment upkeep, Thomas monitors animal health and feed, Mark is responsible for milking operations and George runs the cheesemaking.
Having originally rented a farm just west of Madison in the early 1980's, where they milked just under 60 cows, they later purchased 300 acres of farmland in Waterloo, Wisconsin, a move which allowed them to farm on a larger scale, construct a new dairy, and produce much of their own animal feed.
For years they sold fluid milk, until milk prices fell and the brothers needed to think of ways to add value to their milk. In 2001 they decided to go into cheese production.
The cheesemaking operation is located across the road from the barns and milking parlor, and milk is pumped directly to the cheese room via a pipe laid under the road.
Crave Brothers produce a variety of cheeses, such as Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, and Farmer's Rope String cheese. The cheese room has three vats, two of which hold 26,000lbs. of milk and are used for production of the fresh cheeses and dairy products. The smaller vat holds 5,000lbs. and is used to produce Les Frères. Production of Les Frères is the most delicate and least automated. Cheeses are hand-ladeled, washed regularly with brine and matured for a minimum of three weeks on site. The recent construction of a larger "cave" underneath the cheesemaking facility has helped improve the maturing process.
Reflecting the brothers' French-Irish heritage, Les Frères is a semisoft, washed rind cheese modeled after Reblochon, Muenster and Irish Gubeen.
Flavors, when young, are milky, almost yoghurt like, clean, fresh and lemony. With age, Les Frères can become quite assertive, with complex flavors best described as fruity, tangy and earthy.
Les Frères pairs well with Rieslings and Pinot Gris. For beer drinkers, it is a great match for stouts or Belgian-style ales.