Cheese of the month: Gorwydd Caerphilly

Cheese of the month: Gorwydd Caerphilly

Crumbly and light with a bright citrus taste, Caerphilly is a great cheese for lovers of Lancashire or Wensleydale.

History of Caerphilly cheese

Caerphilly (or Caerffili) is Wales’ only native cheese. It is also known as one of Britain’s territorial cheeses which, like Cheddar, Cheshire or Red Leicester, is named after the place it was made.

Many of these cheeses have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. This means they must be made in a certain area of the country and using traditional methods that have been developed over centuries. Traditional Welsh Caerphilly/Caerffili gained its PGI status in 2017. In order for cheese producers to use the name the cheese must be made using the same traditional recipe and with milk from Welsh cows.

Originating from around the small Welsh town of the same name, it is believed the cheese was traditionally produced to feed the local coal miners. The thick rind made it easy to transport down the mines and its high moisture content meant it kept well in the damp conditions – making it the ideal lunchtime treat for miners. There was a decline in production of the cheese following the Second World War, as many of the original Welsh cheese makers switched from producing Caerphilly to Cheddar, which was growing in popularity.

However the production of the cheese was picked up again in the late 19th century by cheesemakers in Somerset, who liked the fact that Caerphilly took less time to mature than the traditional cheddar cheeses they had been making. Today most of the Caerphilly that you can buy in the supermarkets is mass-produced, however there are still some producers making the cheese to traditional standards. Westcombe Dairy in Somerset produce an aged Caerphilly based on a traditional 1930s recipe. The oldest producer of Welsh Caerffili, Caws Cenarth in Pembrokeshire, also make many other delicious Welsh cheeses, such as the Brie-Caerffili hybrid, Perl Wen.

Gorwydd Caerphilly

Gorwydd Caerphilly is another excellent example of this cheese. Produced by Trethowan’s Dairy in Somerset, it has scooped many accolades, including being crowned Super Gold Winner at the 2019-20 World Cheese awards.

Cheese-making brothers Todd and Maugan Trethowan have been making Gorwydd Caerphilly for 25 years. Todd took a summer job as a student at the prestigious Neal’s Yard Dairy. His love of cheese quickly grew and after a number of apprenticeships he was introduced to renown cheesemaker Chris Duckett of Westcombe Dairy, who taught him all about the production of Caerphilly cheese. Todd then returned to his native Wales where he set up a dairy with his brother on the family farm.

The brothers made the move from Ceredigion in Wales to set up a new dairy at Puxton Court Farm in Somerset in 2014. Their raw milk cheese comes from a herd of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey cows.

Gorwydd is matured for much longer than normal Caerphilly, which adds an unrivalled depth of flavour. In fact Ned Palmer, in his brilliant cheese bible A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles, goes as far to say that this is the cheese that made him become a cheesemonger – high praise indeed!

Key facts

FromSomerset, England
MilkCow’s milk
Age2-4 months
Strength and style of cheeseMedium, semi-firm
Tasting notes Lemon; mushroom; cabbage; butter; cream

Drinks pairing

We really loved this cheese, it was tangy, lemony and full of flavour without being sour. It had a great texture – creamy and crumbly at the same time and a delicious rind with hints of mushroom.

With a light, creamy, soft cheese like Caerphilly, you want to match it with a beer that’s not going to mask the delicate taste of the cheese. A pale ale is a safe choice and if you can find something with a citrusy flavour it will compliment the lemony notes perfectly.

We paired this with a Pale Ale from Newbarns Brewery in Edinburgh. This hazy beer has tropical flavours – we got a hit of grapefruit on the nose and then more of a bitter grapefruit taste on the palate. The beer uses two hop types – Mosaic and Centennial – which both provide citrus and floral notes.

When paired with the cheese it really amplified the hoppiness of the beer and the enhanced the saltiness of the cheese. This was a wonderful match, both the beer and the cheese were really distinctive in flavour that lingered deliciously on the taste buds.

They say that cheese and drink pairings can fall into three categories – friends, enemies or lovers. This pairing definitely falls into the latter category – soulmates for life!

Gorwydd Caerphilly
Pale Ale Newbarns Brewery Edinburgh 4.8% 440ml

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