Our Goat Milk
For our first 15 years, most of our milk came from goats raised on the Boulder, Colorado, farm of our founder Jim Schott.
When Jim sold the farm in 2008, our goatswere placed in good homes. All of the goat milk for our cheese is now sourced from the Skyline Correctional Center goat dairy, located in Cañon City. The employees are qualified inmates who work for Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI).
The dairy was established as a joint venture between Haystack Mountain and CCI; it’s a symbiotic partnership that provides us with a high-quality, consistent milk source, and the inmates with valuable occupational and life skills. Learn more about Skyline Correctional Center here.
Cheesemaking: A Day in the Life
Our cheeses are made in small-batches with unwavering attention to detail and a few secrets you’ll never get out of us. Minimal mechanical inputs are used to sustain the unique artisanal qualities that keep winning us awards and kudos.
Day 1, Morning:
Cheesemaker Jackie Chang calls it the joyful feeling. Somebody turns on the music, everyone starts limbering up, pulling on lab coats, rubber boots, hairnets. The room begins to buzz and so begins—not your typical workday– but the Haystack art of dancing cheese.
As production moves along, the buzz intensifies into the delicious energy of people who genuinely love what they do.
We’ll share a secret with you: This joyous energy and passionate production are key ingredients in the award-winning flavor of our cheeses.
In-house, we call it goat milk magic. Fresh goat milk is tested and pumped into a 4,700-pound pasteurization tank. The vat is heated, bringing the milk up to pasteurizing temperature. Culture is added and when the cultures begin to ripen, we test for acidity.
When the milk has set, we pull 700 pounds of it into a separate tank for the Haystack Peak and Haystack Snowdrop cheesemake tomorrow. The remaining curd will be used for our fresh chèvre.
Day 2, Early Morning:
We’re making chèvre and Haystack Peaks, and everyone comes in early for the occasion. Curd for fresh chèvre is scooped from each tank, acidity-tested, and two cheesemakers team up to pull the curd from the tank into the cheese bag where it drains, is turned, and drains again.
Another cheesemaker is scooping out surface-ripened curd and draining it to the perfect moisture level. Haystack Peak curd is ladled into its famous pyramid shape, and Haystack Snowdrop curd goes into a round mold. The cheese maker returns to spin the chèvre curd.
Lights Out: Our cheese room is meticulously cleaned each evening before we each say good night.
Day 3, Early Morning:
The task at hand is turning and twisting chèvre curd.
Cheese makers arrive early to spin this curd into a brown basket, then roll it into the process cooler before it’s formed into chèvre logs.
Our Peaks and Snowdrops are delicately turned, salted and gently placed in the aging room to ripen for two weeks before being hand-wrapped, labeled and distributed.
Raw milk cheeses, including Red Cloud, Queso de Mano and Sunlight, are periodically turned and washed.
Secret: Everybody asks, but we never tell what’s behind the sublime taste of our raw milk cheeses that, to this day, have never been duplicated.
On the fourth day, our chèvre is ready to be shot into 4- and 8-ounce logs and gently rolled into various herbs and spices. Cheese lingo? Call it shooting the logs.
Once packaged, Haystack Mountain chèvre logs are picked up by Colorado distributors and shipped airfreight to markets throughout the U.S. A portion is personally delivered by Haystack to more than 80 Denver and Boulder restaurants.
Some pictures from the Skyline Correctional Center:
Our full array of cheeses are made and sold at our Creamery, staffed by experienced cheese artisans who love what they do.
1121 Colorado Avenue
Open 8-5, Monday-Thursday.8-4 Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday