Judging & Competition News

SHEEP MILK CHEESE – A RISING BREED

Published 11/30/2016

It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by, and we’re already planning for “Cheese with Altitude!” in Denver, CO in 2017.  Each year, the Judging & Competition (J&C) Committee is tasked with reviewing entries and monitoring industry trends to ensure our categories accurately reflect the needs of our members.

The Committee has established a small working group of 9 members to review the categories and make adjustments as needed to ensure we are meeting that goal. This group is always mindful about adding new categories by engaging in discussion and studying data before reaching any decisions. The guiding light and purpose is inclusion and fairness for all cheesemakers.

The history of defining milk sources for entries has developed through a need for correct identity and fairness in judging across unique categories. Originally, goat and sheep milks were listed as one subcategory due to the limited number of entries being produced and entered into the Judging & Competition.  When goat milk cheese entries increased, the Committee response was to create a separate goat milk cheese subcategory. A subcategory called “made from sheep, mixed, or other milks” then became the option for sheep and other milk cheese producers.

In response to our members’ call to add a separate sheep milk category and after evaluation by the working group, the J&C Committee is excited to announce that sheep milk cheese entries have reached a level at which an exclusive identity and definition is merited for relevant categories in 2017. The hope is that this will properly highlight the efforts of sheep milk producers and encourage creativity in those new categories.

With this change, the Committee has created another subcategory – “made with mixed or other milks.” The new subcategory identities will show the Category letter with an “S” for sheep milk cheeses or an “X” for mixed or other milk cheeses. The exception to this rule is in F – Blue Mold Cheeses, where we have two sheep milk subcategories.  Sheep’s milk producers will now have the option of the following two subcategories for sheep milk cheeses in Category F:

  • FS: Rindless Blue-veined – made from sheep’s milk
  • FM: Blue-veined with a rind or external coating – made from sheep’s milk

The Committee responds based on member feedback and when a significant amount of entries over two years demonstrates a valid and sustained trend or development in cheesemaking. The Committee’s mission is to include all the vital and sustainable cheese styles that populate the Americas.  We are pleased that sheep cheeses have risen in status to justify their own identity and welcome the 2017 entries, old and new!

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the ACS office.  We look forward to seeing your cheeses in Denver in 2017.

Sincerely,

John Greeley and Dr. Stephanie Clark
ACS Judging & Competition Committee