I was searching through the cheese selection at Holiday Market in Royal Oak, MI, when I came across a cheese labeled as brick cheese. The sign on the cheese said that was it was the perfect cheese for pizza. It said that it was like mozzarella but with a stronger flavor. So I decided to grab about 1/2 pound to try on the next pizza I made. Boy was I happy with the result. It has been my go to pizza cheese whenever I can find it (not always easy in my immediate area).
After coming home and doing some research, here is what I found out about brick cheese. It originated in the great cheese state of Wisconsin. It was first made by John Jossia in 1877. It might be called brick cheese for two reasons: it is shaped like a brick and bricks were used in the process of making it. The bricks are used to weight down the cheese before the cheese enters a brine.
The authentic stuff is still being made in Wisconsin. When I visited the state in May 2010, I found some amazing brick cheese. I wish I could have brought even more home! What you often find unfortunately in the supermarket is a mass produced facsimile that doesn’t live up to the original. So if you can find some quality brick, make sure you buy it!
When it comes to age, brick changes a lot. When it’s young, it’s pretty mild in taste. But when you get some aged brick it becomes much more like Limburger cheese in both taste and odor. The Brick cheese that I normally find here in Michigan is the mild variety. But I did manage to find an aged brick that was pretty pungent and not that kind of thing I would want on my pizza.