The antiquity of this speciality is unknown, although it was probably well-established before the beginning of the nineteenth century when Vittorio di Sant’Albino described it in his Piedmontese-Italian dictionary. The original motivation was the avoidance of waste: pieces of stale, hard and/or mouldy cheese were mixed with homemade grappa (the distillate of the pomace remaining from winemaking) plus, perhaps, butter and spices, and left to ferment in an earthenware container until the mixture acquired a creamy texture. At this point it was covered and could be treated as a preserve.
Brös has acquired a certain cachet in recent years, and may often be found in the restaurants of the Langhe. However the robust tradional formulation has been largely replaced by one based on fresh cheeses such as Robiola and white wine.
Brus da ricotta is a version without wine or grappa which is made in various parts of Piedmont by fermenting sheep’s milk ricotta cheese for a month or more, and aromatizing with chilli or black pepper. It has been recognized as a “traditional Piedmontese product” by the regional government.