Yes! Goat’s Milk Brie

Rachel Tepper Paley

YES. It’s what we say to things that are awesome. Yes.

Photo credit: ISTL/StockFood

Brie—whether it’s the so-called fancy version or the slightly more ho-hum supermarket stalwart—is a darling of cheese plates nationwide. Traditionally, the soft-ripened fromage is made from cow’s milk, but another variety has been racing up the ranks in recent years: goat’s milk brie.

"It’s one of those cheeses that is becoming more popular with American eaters," said Gordon Edgar, cheesemonger of Rainbow Grocery cooperative in San Francisco. Since the 1990s, he said, more producers have emerged and interest in goat’s milk cheeses in general has increased. 

Brie is generally made with specific cheese cultures and molds, Edgar explained, but in the United States there are few restrictions on which soft-ripened cheeses can be labeled “Brie.” This opens the door to Brie made with alternative ingredients, such as goat’s milk.

"All goat Brie types differentiate themselves from cow’s milk by being tangier in flavor … and sometimes a little more gamey," Edgar mused. Rainbow Grocery carries cheeses by a handful of North American goat’s milk brie producers, including one from the Canadian dairy Woolwich.

"It has the richest, most decadent flavor to it and a little less of that tang," which might appeal to those uncertain about gambling on the famously piquant goat’s milk flavor. "It’s a gateway cheese," Edgar assured us.

Bolder cheese-lovers might enjoy another selection: the rich, oozy French florette, which is produced by Fromagerie Guilloteau. Edgar admires its “fruity notes” and “bigger tang” compared to other goat’s milk Bries. 

He also recommends the “Cameo” goat’s milk Brie from California’s Redwood Hill Farm (“it has a little bit of that onion-y-ness that you look for in a real traditional style Brie”) and the mild “Cabrie” offering from California-based company Montchevre (“it definitely is for the more timid goat cheese eaters”).

Edgar thinks the growing interest in goat’s milk cheese is hitched to the artisanal cheese industry’s rising star, and for that he’s happy. “It’s only now that people are really interested in cheese,” he said, with clear glee. “The American palate has changed.”