Mystic Cheese Company in Groton, CT
"Dedicated to the Science and Art of Milk Metamorphosis"
225 Leonard Drive
Groton, CT 06340
Now located less than a few hundred yards from LI Sound Mystic Cheese Co. blends science and art to produce a truly unique and award winning line of coastal influenced cheeses all made from a single herd of cows and goats located in the Quiet Corner or CT. We pride ourselves on the quality and consistency of our cheeses.
—Brian Civitello, Cheese Technologist
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Groton, CT - Brian Civitello, founder and “cheese technologist” at The Mystic Cheese Company, has dedicated a large part of his life to what he calls “the science and art of milk metamorphosis”. On a very cold, windy day at a picturesque dairy farm in Lebanon, CT, Brian gave me a tour of his cheese-making facility and we sat down to discuss his company, his process, and the events leading up to their creation.
Brian has an extensive background in the cheese-making industry. He was inspired by his grandfather to pursue the art of cheese making and has fifteen years of cheese production and consulting experience, including five years in Italy working for major companies such as Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gorgonzola. He also has experience working with small artisanal shops in the Swiss Alps and even spent some time working as a sheep and goat shepherd.
Brian started Mystic Cheese as a way to test his unique, portable farmstead cheese making system, the Cheese Pod.
The Cheese Pods are currently located at Gray Wall Farm in Lebanon, CT, just steps away from the milking facility that provides Mystic Cheese with the fresh milk that is the base for each of their cheeses. A Cheese Pod is a mobile, modular, cheese making infrastructure constructed within two standard 40ft shipping containers. From the outside, one would never guess what they contain. Inside each Pod are the essential tools a cheese maker needs including a 1,000lb vat pasteurizer, a cleanable climate control system, and a COP tank.
Mystic Cheese currently regularly produces three different cheeses: Sea Change, Melinda Mae, and Mel Ville. Each of the cheeses are made with fresh milk, and none of them contain artificial additives or preservatives. The cheeses are minimally aged and processed: some of the Mel Ville cheeses may be as little as twenty-four hours old upon purchasing them.
The quirky cheese names are inspired by literature with nautical themes: Melinda Mae after a Shel Silverstein poem about a girl who eats a whale; Mel Ville after the author of Moby Dick; Sea Change after an idiom meaning metamorphosis originally found in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
The unique packaging designs and the company logo, a whale spearing a piece of cheese with the horn on its head, are designed by a local children’s book author. Even the cardboard boxes that the cheese come in are produced by a manufacturer in Connecticut.
Moving into the future, Mystic Cheese has two expansion projects in the works. They plan to increase production at farm by building a permanent structure, using the Pod instead as an incubator to train other cheese makers or renting it out as a way to get them started. They also plan to open a cheese retail and aging facility in Mystic. These projects will enable them to expand their product lines to include hard cheeses, which require longer aging periods.
To try Mystic Cheese yourself, come see them at the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers Market or at any of the restaurants that use their products, a full list of which can be found on the company’s main website.