Production of Berkswell takes place at Ram Hall, located near Coventry in the West Midlands region of England.
Ram Hall, a beautiful 16th century house and farm has been home to the Fletcher family for six generations. The Fletchers began milking sheep in 1989 and began by selling liquid milk. At the suggestion of a local farm shop, they began to experiment with cheesemaking. Cheese had apparently been produced at Ram Hall in the past, a discovery made when the Fletchers stripped off some old paint and found the words 'Cheese Room' underneath. However, the recipe had been lost and so they began to make Berkswell using a Caerphilly formula, which evolved from there.
The Fletchers run a flock of 350 homebred Friesland ewes. Frieslands are known for their high milk yield, due to their capacity to have a large number of lambs, as well as for their placid temperament. These are both traits that make them ideal dairy sheep. They are also incredibly greedy and the opportunity of being fed in the milking parlor is not one to be missed!
Berkswell is made in small vats under the guidance of Linda Dutch, the head cheesemaker. Milk is heated, starter cultures and rennet are added, and the milk is left to ripen. The curd is then cut and re-heated before being put into the colanders that give the cheeses their distinct flying saucer shape.
Wheels are matured for at least six months before release. Berkswell has a natural rind that is slightly chewy and rusty brown-red in color. It also bears the distinctive imprint of the colanders in which it is formed.
The texture is firm and dense and slightly granular with an interior paste the color of pale butter.
Flavors are concentrated, sweet and very complex, with tremendous length and finish. there are often notes of pineapple and caramel overlaid with a balanced tang.