These Cheese Caves In New York City Are Totally Awesome
Located in the space of the former Nassau Brewery in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, are the Crown Finish Caves. Benton Brown and Susan Boyle bought the building in 2001, with knowledge of the old lagering tunnels from the brewery thirty feet below ground. The tunnels were created in the mid-nineteenth century by the brewery to age lager in open barrels, but they hadn’t been used since the brewery was in use in 1914.
Benton and Boyle purchased top-quality equipment and turned one of the three tunnels into a licensed New York state dairy plant. The tunnels are 50 degrees Fahrenheit year round, which makes them the ideal temperature for aging cheese, and they are humidity and temperature-controlled. Although they don’t actually make the cheese at Crown Finish Caves, they receive it when it’s super young (1-14 days old, before the rind has even developed), which is when the product is known as “Green Cheese.” This centuries-old practice of nurturing and maturing cheese to achieve its peak ripeness, texture, and flavor, is called affinage. Most of the cheese is produced less than 250 miles from New York City before being sent to age.
Crown Finish Caves can hold around 22,000 pounds of cheese at one time. Although they’ll most likely never be a retail outlet, they do sell the finished products to specialty grocery stores and restaurants. You can’t actually tour the cheese caves, but you can rent out the non-cheesemaking tunnels for events. Just thirty feet below Brooklyn, cheese is being cleaned, flipped, and washed in different brines (like cider or beer), all to get it ready for your consumption. It’s pretty cool to eat cheese that’s actually aged in Brooklyn.
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