Friday, March 27, 2009

New Glarus Brewing Company

New Glarus is a fairly young brewery here in Wisconsin, but its products are top flight. Let's be very clear, Dan Carey is a very, very talented brewer. What's all the more cool is that this brewery was started as a collaboration between him and his wife, who is a talented entrepreneur and raised the capital to start the venture as a gift to her husband.

Jerry App in The Breweries of Wisconsin has this very short blurb on the original New Glarus Brewing Company:

This brewery opened in 1866 and became known as the . . . New Glarus Brewing Company in 1911. The brewery did not reopen after Prohibition. Today the building is part of a grocery and meat market. (p. 184)

Well, that's all the information we have for history, but it's interesting that this town has a long-standing tradition of beer brewing.

Anyway, there are a lot of great beers coming out of of the new New Glarus Brewing Company, but I might as well start with a couple I don't care for very much. Lots of times around here you'll hear people say, "Oh, I like the New Glarus Spotted Cow." Well, I really don't like the Spotted Cow, not because there's anything wrong with it but because it's pretty light and (to me) non-descript ale. But as we say here on CBR, de gustibus non est disputandum. I also did not care for their Edel Pils, which I thought was a bit out of balance to the bitter side of things and had a kind of overbearing malt presence. But, this beer has won its share of awards, so that may just be my personal taste speaking.

However, the company's Fat Squirrel is absolutely wonderful. This brown ale is rich and spicy, a top example of one of my favorite styles. It must not be drunk too cold, in order to really catch all of its nuances. This is a beer you can really savor. The great thing about this beer, for me, is that I can be pretty certain that I'm going to get a really fresh bottle, since the brewery isn't very far from me and the turn-over on our local store shelves is pretty high.

Organic Revolution is a wonderful American style pale ale, snappy and crisp with great balance and a very smooth malt palate. It's nice to see breweries make this move into the organic market.

Some of the breweries specialty beers are also impressive. The Coffee Stout is roasty and rich, the Staghorn Octoberfest has an especially nice caramel and hop spice mix and my wife, who is not an avid beer drinker, really appreciated the malty smoothness of the very drinkable Uff-Da bock (if you are not Scandanavian you may not know what "Uff-Da" means; this will be left as an exercise for the reader.)

Lots of Dan's beers, including the delectable and unique Wisconsin Belgian Red (each bottle made with over a pound of Wisconsin Door County cherries) has earned a very impressive list of awards

Dan also has an "Unplugged" series of over-the-top beers that he brews as specialties for a given year. I have had several of these, including the Imperial Pilsner and the Imperial Stout. I am very much looking forward to trying his Olde English Porter later this year.

There are a couple of New Glarus brews that I have not tried but that beckon me. The Totally Naked sounds intriguing in its simplicity and the Snowshoe Red Ale represents one of my favorite styles and I have a hunch I'll love the New Glarus offering.

Unfortunately, again, the distribution of these great beers is limited, but if you come through Wisconsin or Minnesota, I'd highly recommend grabbing a six pack or three.