New kid on the bock: New Glarus Cabin Fever

20 Jan

Travis got his hands on some of that new New. (Glarus)

New year, new New Glarus seasonal.  What could be more appropriate as mid-January cabin fever sets in than a beer that celebrates the insanity stemming from too many months stuck inside avoiding the long Wisconsin deep freeze?  A helles or pale bock typically brewed in late winter or early spring, Cabin Fever adds an accent of clover honey from Verona, Wisconsin’s own Pure Sweet Honey. With the loss of stalwart Uff-da Bock from their year-round line-up, this year’s seasonal brewing schedule sees not one, but two beers step in to wave the bock banner (a thus far mysterious “Back Forty Bock” appears as a late-year November-December offering).  Have no fear backers of bock – Mr. Carey still loves ya.

Beer: New Glarus Cabin Fever

Style: “Pale Wisconsin Honey Bock” (helles bock in more general terms)

Vitals: 6.0% abv, Wisconsin clover honey, Wisconsin Pale and Caramel malts, “unique” lager yeast, European hops, brewed January-April

Company line:

Seldom in life are you able to savor the quiet hush like you can during the cold Wisconsin Winter. So New Glarus Brewing Company encourages you to relax with a ‘Cabin Fever Honey Bock’, their first seasonal release of 2010. This easy drinking Pale Bock is brewed with Clover Honey from Pure Sweet Honey of Verona, Wisconsin.

Bock beers first appeared in the 14th century and were traditionally aged over the long winter. Some even speculate that this is how the style got its name. The German word for ‘goat’ is ‘bock’ and the goat is the astrological symbol for those born during the height of winter making these brews confident Capricorns. The warm sweetness of Bock Beer insured their reputation as delicious ‘liquid bread’. They are so malty rich that these sturdy brews even sustained monks during the fasting of the Lenten Season.

New Glarus Brewing Company’s ‘Cabin Fever Honey Bock’ takes this classic style in a brighter direction than the traditional dark German Bock. Cabin Fever is a ‘Helles’ or Pale Bock with a golden color and lower strength than the German Style Dark Bock. This Pale Bock is brewed with an exclusive blend of Wisconsin Pale and Caramel Malts that balance seamlessly with a unique Lager Yeast and European hops.

Cool days draw us close to the warmth of home fires. This is the season to sip away the chill and embrace quiet evenings with friends and family. Whether you reminisce the passing summer sun or thrill to squeaky steps through drifting snow, one thing is certain about winter in Wisconsin, this too shall pass. –

My take: pours a crystal clear honey gold in my pint glass, sprouting over an inch of frothy white head, trailing lace.  Nose is crisp and light, with a bristle of herbal hops and sweet malts.  Bready pale malts blanket the palate, broken only by the clean sweetness of the clover honey and a brief tingle of noble hops.  Body has the great combination of malt depth and drinkability characteristic of better helles bockbiers.  The mouth is left with a dry, almost wheat-like aftertaste that begs for another sip.  Cabin Fever works well as a crisp, lower-octane counterpoint to Capitol’s venerable Blonde Doppelbock. What it lacks in depth compared to Capitol’s heavy-hitter, it makes up for with focused drinkability and clarity of vision.

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