Originally from the Netherlands, Willem and Maja van den Hoek began making cheese almost 30 years ago in Nova Scotia, after returning to their homeland to learn the craft from an experienced cheesemaker there.
They started off by using milk from their own herd of cows, but in recent years found that they wanted to focus more on the cheesemaking. Willem and Meja are now buying in their milk from a neighboring farm.
Milk for cheesemaking is heat-treated rather than pasteurized, thereby keeping some of the original flavors of the milk.
They make a Gouda-style cheese called Growler using traditional Dutch gouda mold, or forms know as cadova molds. These give the cheese their distinctive shape.
The regular Growlers are aged for a minum of two months and often slightly longer. If cheeses show the right characteristics for further aging they may be held for longer maturation and become Old Growlers.
Characteristics of the Old Growler are warm, buttery flavors overlaid with an assertive and disctinctive tang. The rind is a classic, buttery yellow color and is coated in Plasticoat, which protects the cheese while aging but allows it to breathe at the same time (a crucial component for maturing a natural rinded cheese).