Notes From the Vat

Farmstead cheeses change with the seasons. Here are batch notes, direct from our cheesemakers, Jamie and Paul, to give you a look at the current seasonal flavor profiles.

Harvest Jack in winter 2014

Harvest Jack in winter 2014

August 2015

Just as our herdsmen are hurrying to make hay while the sun shines, we urge you all to make the most of these lovely summer days while they remain. Go to the beach! Visit a farm! (Perhaps ours!) Have a picnic in the local park or on your own front lawn!

Toma – Those lucky enough to get some Toma from the 6.6 batch are getting some special wedges. The cheese is an incredibly flavorful batch: fresh grass, salted peanut and beefy flavors under the rind, with a gentle barnyard aroma.

Buttercup Brie – Moderate supply right now. First come first served! Let us know if you prefer ripe gooey ready-to-go wheels, or firmer ones with a bit longer shelf-life.
Havilah -This cheese! Our best! We’re going to do a tasting of some batches from early last summer – we’ll let you know how they taste. If you have any thoughts on how Havilah has been selling/tasting, send them along.
Lawrenceville Jack –  Aged 3-6 months, mild, versatile, and pleasing.  
Lawrenceville Jack Reserve – Releasing a few wheels of this extra-aged Lawrenceville Jack. Deeper, more concentrated Jack flavor.  
Full Nettle Jack – only a very few wheels remaining from our current crop. 

April 27th

So, so much has gone on this past month. For starters, the Inaugural Raw Milk Cheese Day was a smashing success. Jamie, myself, and our new intern Vincent spread out to Dibruno Bros in Philly and Whole Earth in Princeton to spread the tasty goodness of traditional raw milk cheese.

Regardless of the occasion it is always a pleasure to get out there and meet the folks eating our cheese. I had the pleasure of being on 9th street in the Italian Market, where I am always in awe of the community and spirit based around traditional fresh foods. Lots on enthused eaters for our Havilah! Once I got back to the farm, things were still abuzz for the occasion. The parking lot was full of the farm curious checking out all that goes into our raw milk cheese production and taking tours led by our marketing staff. I always appreciate any efforts all of you make everyday to ours and all traditional raw milk cheeses. We are already looking forward to next year’s Raw Milk Cheese Day!

In other news, I took a trip ten minutes down the road to Riverhorse Brewing Co. in Ewing. We are beginning to work with Riverhorse on some washed rind experiments and pairings. I collected a very yeasty amount of freshly brewed Tripel to try some washing experiments. Cheese R&D can be a long process, but I hope we have something tasty to talk about come June. Chris, the brewer, was on hand, the whole staff are nice lot, and the Brewery is full of local art. I recommend a stop in for their pouring nights if you are a local.

Lastly, our cows are now on their fanciest favored feast – spring grass! The farm has been very noisy of late, loads and loads of calving. Babes are literally everywhere. As of Friday’s make (Full Nettle Jack), we began to see a wee bit of color change in the vat, my favorite sign of the season change.

Lest we forget the wheels of the week! While the milk supply was slightly greater this winter we are still working off a small lot.

Havilah: A couple of older 2013 selections we are working off of. Beautiful, strong cheeses.

Herdsman: If we gave out “most improved” awards it would be for this guy right here. Rich, dense and creamy, simple but flavorful with a variety of mushroom and butter notes. Really enjoying the rind. Wheels from last Thanksgiving week.

*April in Paris*  Limited Edition!

Still a little bit of this one left but TRULY LAST CALL! A semi-soft number with a rind that’s been washed in Asian Pear Eau de Vie, given to us by our friends at Subarashii Kudamono. Along with splendid fruit, these folks produce a range of value-added delights from their orchards: superb honey, Asian Pear butter, dried Asian Pears, and fruit wines &spirits. 

Lawrenceville Jack Reserve: One of our ACS award winners. Crumbly yet creamy despite an abundance of age. An array of bright fruit flavors with a savory beefy finish. The last wheel I tasted brought to mind July crimson cherries and peaches.

Off to get outside, where I hope you too enjoy some spring sun. Happy Eating!  — Paul


April 1, 2015

A mainstay of our line, and a definite crowd-pleaser. We’re quite pleased with the rinds on these Fall 2014 batches we’re releasing right now, and the paste has a bit more give to it than the longer aged batches. However – if firm and crunchy is what you’re after, we have some older batches too that would float your boat.
Our best melter. Stir some into mac and cheese or top a pizza before the weather gets too stinking hot to turn those ovens on!
The Fall 2013 batches tend to be sweeter, while the early spring and summer wheels show a bit more teeth. Both kinds are equally rich and satisfying…
*April in Paris*Limited Edition R&D Cheese
We like to keep things interesting for ourselves with one-off experimental batches. This month, we’re releasing a lil’ something we’re calling April in Paris. Made on January 19th 2015, it’s a semi-soft number with a rind that’s been washed in Asian Pear Eau de Vie – given to us by our friends at Subarashii Kudamono. Along with splendid fruit, these folks produce a range of value-added delights from their orchards: superb honey, Asian Pear butter, dried Asian Pears and fruit wines &spirits. 

We’re quite happy with how this little one turned out – a tasty, somewhat addictive rind (on the drier side for a washed), and a smooth, uniform-textured paste with a hint of salinity in amongst the notes of milk and button mushroom.

March 1, 2015

Herdsman: Really adoring these September wheels. They remind me of my early days as a cheesemonger and my love of Tomme de Savoie. It’s not a cheese whose paste wallops you or that has waves of pyrotechnics on the palette but it is eminently lovable and the perfect picnic cheese alongside a salty slice of bresoala or country ham. I know it is cruel to mention picnicking when it is 16 degrees outside but cheers to happy fantasies, or a cheeseboard by the space heater, eh?

Havilah: From fall 2013. Nice creamy batches, hallmark toasted hazelnut, roasted onion and caramel notes.

Brie: Cracking into a new small batch that will be milder and firmer than the those from the last month. For those of you who were fans of the raw milk Buttercup Brie, we will be tapped out shortly.

Toma: We continue to have the smaller basket shaped Tomas. They are a little less creamy than the larger wheels but flavor-wise are identical.

Lawrenceville Jack: Notes of caramel, buttered popcorn and lemon, savory. A great chutney n grilled cheese partner. Batches from mid September and early October.


We have a one-off batch of a tomme-style cheese from last August that, with a little age, have become very appealing. The paste really coats the mouth and the larger wheels have a pleasant fudginess, with long lasting roasted salty peanut notes.  These are small basket variations of the tomme-style, but the curd was heated a little higher and acidified in a different manner than our Herdsman. Some have ash through the center.

Feb 1, 2015

We are all about the Buttercup Brie this week!

At this moment, we have a single batch of our Buttercup Brie, produced in early December, that has ripened to a tee and is ready for your table. There are some firmer batches that will ripen at home, if you’d prefer, but the ripe brie is at peak.

For Valentine’s Day, we have made a limited number of small, heart-shaped Buttercup Brie that are the perfect size for a romantic tete-a-tete.

At this time of year, we also make a raw milk version of our Buttercup Brie. This is a special, seasonal treat similar to our regular Buttercup Brie, but with greater depth of flavor, showing earthy beef and mushroom notes. But get the wheels while they last, because when the batch is gone, that’s it until next year.

Additional Batch Notes for February:

Full Nettle Jack:  Wheels from late summer and September 2014, offering spicy oregano and lemon notes from the organic nettle leaves.

Havilah:  Fall wheels from 2013, exhibiting long lasting citrus, toast, and caramel notes, with some “crunch” in the paste.

Herdsman: Wheels from July and August of last year. Great burger topping or crowd pleaser with a tart chutney.

Garlic Peppercorn Jack:  That meaty whole peppercorn and roasted garlic delight is back! Early September batches.

Toma: Our smaller basket wheels offering a moist, semi soft cheese with piquant buttermilk flavors.

Lawrenceville Jack: Notes of caramel, buttered popcorn, and lemon savory. A great chutney ‘n grilled cheese partner. Batches from mid September and early October. 

Take care, stay warm, and happy eating!
The Cheesemakers

1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens