Lonely Planet Writer

Check out these hidden cheese caves, 30 feet below the streets of Brooklyn

Stroll around Brooklyn’s Crown Heights and you will easily stumble on the borough’s Botanic Garden and Children’s Museum, but hidden 30 feet underground find another neighbourhood gem. Tucked below the streets of Brooklyn, Crown Finish Caves holds upwards of 22,000 pounds of cheese.

Cheese maturing in cave.
Cheese maturing in cave.

The cheese aging facility was once home to the old Nassau Brewery, operating in Brooklyn until it shuttered in 1916. Its lagering tunnels remain intact, however, and still naturally maintain a year-round temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Coincidentally, the perfect temperature for aging lagers is also the perfect temperature to age cheese, so the husband and wife team who own the building transformed the caves into a cheese lover’s wonderland.

Crown Finish Caves doesn’t make their own cheese, but instead ages different varieties from artisan producers near and far. Most of the young cheeses, all less than two weeks old, are from within 250 miles of New York City, but a few hail from Wisconsin, Vermont, and even Lombardy, Italy. The caves are brimming with both traditional and unique cheeses, from a small-batch cheddar to a mixed milk triple crème washed in a Saison beer from local Three’s Brewing in Gowanus.

While there are no public tours of the facility, Crown Finish Caves hosts monthly cheese pop-ups underground, in addition to other events. Joshua Bernstein, beer and spirits journalist and author of Complete IPA, has hosted a beer and cheese tasting in the lagering tunnels. “Descending the winding spiral staircase 30 feet beneath the Brooklyn streets is like traveling back in time to the 1850s, an era short on refrigeration and long on the labor needed to carve out these massive tunnels,” Bernstein told Lonely Planet. “It’s Brooklyn’s brewing past repurposed for a flavorful new future.”

Get your hands on Brooklyn-aged cheeses in shops from New York City to Nashville and beyond.

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