Imbibe Hour


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fruit beer goodness, and from all obscure places... Wisconsin.

While jumping around the imbibing trail, beer is often on the radar for myself.  However, in my search for good beer, even great beer, my thoughts have usually drifted to tried and true tested beer hot spots.  Often I am thinking of West coast state breweries for their hop pleasures, or countries with long brewing traditions such as those of Germany or more importantly Belgium, and the breweries that have made those countries the standard for which beer is measured.  In the end the best beer for myself is in the United States, with it's array of breweries, multiple styles, and it's focus on innovation and perhaps pushing boundaries to the extreme.

Nevertheless, when I was on my search for great beer in the US, an obscure brewery to me came up from Wisconsin called New Glarus.  Wisconsin?  I thought... the place that is known for cheese?  Dairy?  But beer?  Beer WORTH drinking in Wisconsin?  get out of here..

The idea that Wisconsin was to have a brewery that could make fascinating beer not unlike great breweries in California, Oregon, Michigan and so forth seemed like an afterthought.  However, when looking at New Glarus it was obvious this place was doing something very unique.

From their website: "New Glarus is run by an enthusiastic couple Daniel and Deb Carey, who have successfully combined business management and brewing professionalism."  One thing I noticed when checking out their website was that there were some beers here that had an emphasis on fruit as a main ingredient.  Two particularly stood out.  One was a beer titled "Wisconsin Belgian Red", a beer with a pound of Door county Montmorency cherries in every bottle, lagered in oak tanks and balanced by Hallertau hops for a year.  The other "Raspberry Tart" is a classic Framboise made in a similar manner.

New Glarus is not distributed very wildly, but somehow I needed to try these beers having read their descriptions and salivating.  It didn't hurt that both beers were also highly award winning, and also quite coveted by beer fans.  Long story short I was able to acquire the two products, and also get a bottle of Unplugged Enigma, which is as a sour brown ale not unlike a fantastic Flanders Oud Bruin.  I am very grateful for getting it since it is no longer being brewed.  In short it was amazing.

Below is both a review of the Belgian Red and the Raspberry Tart.  Make sure you make an effort some day to try these fantastic brews if you can.  Cheers!

Raspberry Tart

Wisconsin Belgian Red


  1. I know, it's hard to believe that Wisconsin is known for beer. I mean, who's ever heard of Miller, Pabst, Old Style, Schlitz, or Blatz? Who knew that there's a baseball team there called the Milwaukee Brewers?

  2. "Enjoy your adjunct smorgasbord."

    That's funny. I've been drinking and enjoying New Glarus' beers since they opened in the mid-90s.

    And what's wrong with adjuncts? Grains such as rye, oat, and wheat are examples of adjuncts used in many craft beers. They add flavor, contribute to mouthfeel, &c.

    What does the fact that these beers use adjuncts have to do with the issue? (OMG! There's corn in New Glarus' Spotted Cow too!) Milwaukee used to be called "The Beer Capital of the World" and the brands above were incredibly popular making those breweries some of the largest in the country, if not the world. The TV show Laverne & Shirley's main characters worked in a fictitious brewery there. The city has a professional baseball team called the Brewers that play in Miller Park yet you had no idea that Wisconsin was known for beer.

    The issue isn't the quality of Miller, Pabst, Old Style, Schlitz, or Blatz, it's your ignorance. It's your attitude that beer worth drinking generally comes from the West Coast and this snobbery has apparently made you ignorant. It's no secret that Wisconsin is known for beer. Just ask the New York Times or the Chicago Tribune:

    German immigrants flooded into Wisconsin in the 19th century and we ended up with some of the biggest breweries in country. This was immortalized on television and in the name of Milwaukee's professional baseball team. New Glarus only distributes here in Wisconsin making it highly sought after by craft beer aficionados. Wisconsin brewers do well at events like the Great American Beer Festival. Yet that Wisconsin is known for beer or could possibly brew beer worthy of your vaunted palate went totally over your head.

    I wouldn't expect you know that Door County is known for cherries but it's a different story when it comes to Wisconsin and beer.

    Nice reviews, BTW. I am surprised you didn't mention that Belgian Red is a sour beer. Was that what you were talking about re the Red Hots?

  3. Read the article, beers not worth mentioning. Perhaps the obvious old history of Wisconsin's beer history was a glaring oversight that I agree, that isn't the point of the article. You want me to put the history of those beers you mention and primarily their taste on the same pedestal as New Glarus? I am afraid I am just not going to do that. Now I haven't had EVERYTHING New Glarus makes but these three beers were a fantastic indicator, making the brews you describe even five hundred times more pathetic.

    My issue is with "the quality", not ignorance, since when I think of Wisconsin I think of crummy beers like the ones you mention, which to me is not good drink. If I went up to some ordinary person and asked them about Pabst and New Glarus they would know Pabst before New Glarus. That is what they would associate with "Wisconsin" in terms of beer, and that to me means "not a place I think of for good beer to drink".

    I never grew up drinking those "Wisconsin" beers you mention. I grew up elsewhere not drinking those beers you named. Having had them, they are really nasty. Don't agree with me that's perfectly fine.

    I'll give some credit to Schlitz and their retro 60s gusto but that's about it. But for most part the beers you mention are practically swill to me.

    Obviously this seemed to offend you, not sure why, guess you had to take it personally. Guess because I mentioned West Coast this had to strike a nerve (wild guess?), don't ask me why, since I also mentioned Michigan. I could name several other places in the US and other breweries also and they aren't on the US West coast either who make phenomenal beer, but still Wisconsin was never on the radar at the time as a great place to imbibe good beer for me.

    The three beers I had from this brewery were some of the best I ever had of several beers I've imbibed on from all over the world. Perhaps they make another beer I don't even like, who knows, there might be other micro producers in Wisconsin that also make good/great beer, taste is all subjective.

    Your attempt to educate me is rather entertaining, cause you're not teaching me anything I don't already know. There's a baseball team in Milwaukee called the Brewers really had no idea. You're mentioning Laverne and Shirley?

    But somehow the idea that I would enjoy these beers and be surprised by them has hit a nerve with you.

    In response to your other comment, I'll take the time out to answer your question.

    The term "sour" for a beer is a very blanket term to describe certain beers, and I wouldn't use it to describe a beer as "a sour" although I can understand why people do. I didn't find this beer particularly sour at all compared to many other beers that I would consider "sour". It had a very cinnamon sweet red hots candy smell, powdery sugar and cinnamon red hot with a little bit of acid, a small tart like taste, but somewhat sweet actually hardly sour tasting to me.

    That's what I said in the video. Go take a box of cinnamon red hots candy and smell it, to me that was the scent I got and somewhat of a taste profile from this beer.

    What do you not understand what I described? At this point there is nothing more I can say.

    The beer to me is not really sour at all. Festina Peche from Dogfish, Professor Fritz, those are beers I feel are "sour" tasting and smelling, (Berliner Weissebier), among others.

    Don't agree with me... that's fine. But I wouldn't call New Glarus Belgian Red "sour" or sour tasting. New Glarus and the brewers could even call it a "sour" beer, but it doesn't feel like it to me.

    That's called an opinion.

    You really have read too much into this. The crux of the article is that there is some fantastic great beer in "Wisconsin". And for this you're upset when you should be anything but. Hope you understand.