Tag Archives: new glarus

Sour Grains: New Glarus Unplugged Enigma VS. New Belgium La Folie

19 May

Ahh, the power of persuasion.  With a bomber of one in my fridge and a stack of 4-packs of the other staring me in the face at work, all it took was some timely inspiration from Mr. Glazer over at Madison Beer Review to push me to crack a bottle each of New Glarus Unplugged Enigma and New Belgium La Folie and subject my GI tract to 34 ounces of vinegary goodness.

The second consecutive Unplugged beer that happens to be a reborn fan-favorite (after Cherry Stout), Enigma continues to add to Dan Carey’s legendary ability to coax sublime greatness out of the humble Door County cherry.  Wild-fermentation and oak-aging keep this gem firmly within Mr. Carey’s considerable wheelhouse.  Last brewed in 2006, Enigma has developed a devoted following among local beer folk and it was no surprise that New Glarus fans so strongly backed its return.

New Belgium’s La Folie has garnered considerable accolades of its own and risen to the pantheon of American-brewed Belgian-style sour ales.  Whereas New Glarus’ offering skirts the boundaries between fruit and sour ale styles, La Folie is presented as a traditionally-styled sour brown/red ale in the oud bruin or Flanders red vein.  The brewers’ notes on the respective bottles illustrate the divergent goals of these two soured suds:

Enigma – “Our Master Brewer has forged a smooth garnet tapestry that defies description.”

La Folie – “Seriously sour, this Flanders-style reddish brown ale was fermented for 1 to 3 years in French oak barrels for mouth puckering perfection.”

New Glarus Unplugged Enigma

Style: Oud Bruin/Sour Brown Ale/Fruit Beer

Vitals: ~5.5% abv; Brewed with wild yeast and Door County cherries; aged in unlined oak for 4 months

Company Line:

A complex and intriguing original. The mystery began with wild yeast spontaneously fermenting a rich treasure of malted barley and cherries. Unlined Oak casks breathe deep vanilla hues and chords of smoke into this sour brown ale. Our Master Brewer has forged a smooth garnet tapestry that defies description. Wander off the beaten path.

My take: pours a strawberry-tinged amber under a fizzy off-white head that vanishes quickly.  Soft aromas of silky vanilla and and fresh oak are bolstered by husky malt and cherry juice.  Buttery-smooth vanilla and tart cherry envelop the palate over a lightly-toasted, slightly smoky malt backbone.  Finish is pleasantly sour with a quick metallic note and slight lingering fruitiness.  Class in a glass.  Elusive, yet immediately accessible.  Whenever cherries meet oak under Dan Carrey’s tutelage, good things happen.

New Belgium La Folie

Style: Flanders Red/Sour Ale

Vitals: 6.0% abv; aged 1-3 years in French oak; wild fermented

Company Line:

La Folie Wood-Aged Biere, is our original wood-conditioned beer, resting in French Oak barrels between one and three years before being bottled. Peter Bouckaert, came to us from Rodenbach – home of the fabled sour red. Our La Folie emulates the spontaneous fermentation beers of Peter’s beloved Flanders with sour apple notes, a dry effervescence, and earthy undertones. New in 2010, we’ll do a single bottling of La Folie for the year. Collect the 22oz unique to 2010 designed bottle and start a yearly wood-aged collection of goodness.

My take: pours a dark, deep garnet-brown with a light, quickly-dissipating white crown.  Nose sparks with zingy raspberry vinaigrette, smooth oak and light malts.  Hints of zippy Greek yogurt arise with aeration. Notes of ripe berries are quickly zapped by the formidable crabapple acidity which lays down a slight metallic sheen on the palate before a pleasant roasted malt base breaks through.

La Folie proves to be a much more challenging experience for the palate as compared to the Enigma.  Where the Enigma has the benefit of fresh cherries to lend a soothing sweetness and choses a shorter and more subtle application of the wild fermentation; La Folie takes a more traditional path toward a Belgian-style oud bruin/Flanders red with a blend of oak-aged sour vintages with a noble lineage (brewer Peter Bouckaert came to New Belgium from Rodenbach, founding fathers of the Flanders Red tradition) and really electrifies the palate with its supremely sour character.

For lovers of face-wrenching sours (a hat I do indeed wear on occasion) La Folie knocks it out of the park with intense acidity and a bright, dry body.  Enigma takes the road less-traveled, enveloping the senses with layers of cherry, vanilla, oak and smoke in a smooth package that seduces the palate with alternating sweet and sour notes and makes for an ultimately more enjoyable (and accessible) experience.  After 34 full ounces of tongue-curling, cheek-biting, stomach-pickling goodness (a full bomber of La Folie was admittedly challenging to finish by myself in addition to the single Enigma), this drinker’s sour beer tooth has been satiated.  I see a handful of Tums and a whole lot of easy- drinking  Furthermore Oscura in my future.


New Brew: New Glarus Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale

26 Mar

Leave it to Dan Carey to build a better pale ale.  The Midwest’s Michelangelo of Mashing scoured the Pacific Northwest for the perfect blend of hops to create a bold-yet-balanced pale ale to mind the gap between tongue-numbing West Coast-style IPAs and mind-numbing session lagers.  Another beer named after a Carey pet, Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale aims to hit that sweet spot between full flavor and drinkability.  Unfortunately, it comes at the cost of losing Hop Hearty IPA from the New Glarus year-round line-up.  A solid pale in its own right, lets hope it isn’t gone for good (thankfully, Dan is a gracious brewmaster known to resurrect old favorites).  Blast off.  Next stop – the pale side of the moon.

New Glarus Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale

Style: (“No Coast”) American Pale Ale

Vitals: 5.0% abv; 5 varieties of (mystery) hops, dry-hopped with 2.25 lbs of hops per barrel

Company Line:

Daniel Carey (Diploma Master Brewer, New Glarus Brewing Company) is adept at expanding what we know (or think we know) about beer. He continues to challenge flavor possibilities unveiling “Moon Man” No-Coast Pale Ale. Dan is a huge fan of ‘big’ IPA’s and their powerful intense aromatics. It is thought that the popularity of the poignant aromas in big IPA’s are a reaction to the all too prevalent bland beers. However, these same large flavors and aromas make this particular style too intense for many. Some months ago, in well known Daniel Carey fashion, he set out to brew an idea in his head, hoping to pack all the wonderful and powerful aromatics and flavors that he loves in big IPA’s into a sessionable brew that all can enjoy. New Glarus Brewing Company takes one small step, and helps all their friends take one giant leap toward bridging the gap between these two extremes. As Daniel Carey says, “If big IPA’s were a reaction to bland beer, Moon Man is a reaction to extremism.”

True to style, Daniel took his time ensuring this ground breaking brew is exactly what it should be. He personally oversaw the hop harvest in the fields of Washington. He spent over 6 months painstakingly perfecting the hop blend alone. Finally utilizing 5 varieties of hops, of which three are not commonly used in American style ales. “Moon Man” is dry hopped 2 and a 1/2 times as much as is commonly practiced in dry hopped beer (2.25 pounds per barrel). It is powerfully aromatic, and pale golden in color. Like most of New Glarus Brewing Company’s brews, it is bottle fermented the old fashioned way, meaning there is no artificial carbonation. Don’t let this one lay around, it is brewed to be enjoyed today. Bold and engaging without pretense, because in Wisconsin you do not have to be extreme to be real. Just be. -newglarusbrewing.com “

My take: pale amber in the glass under a foamy white, lace-leaving head.  Nose is rife with citrus and herbal hop notes and husky pale malts.  Late hop additions leave a dry, herbal hops impression on the palate with a crackery lingering maltiness.  Drinkability is off-the-charts in a way that even style-standards such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale can’t replicate.   A highly-engineered session pale ale for nearly any occasion.

Guess Who’s Back: New Glarus Unplugged Cherry Stout

19 Feb

Dan Carey, local overlord of fruit and beer, never met a cherry he didn’t want to throw in an oak barrel.  From his venerable Wisconsin Belgian Red to the appropriately named Enigma, Mr. Carey has found a way to coax out the rich essence of the fruit and imbue it with the subtle nuances of his wooden vessels (not bad, eh?).  Cherry Stout was an Unplugged release from February of 2006 and initially threw me for a loop.  Expecting something in the ballpark of Bell’s Cherry Stout – a rich, chewy dessert of a beer – I was flummoxed by the translucent mahogany color and light body of New Glarus’ version.  I shouldn’t be able to see through a stout, I thought.  And while I enjoyed the beer then, I saw it as more of a Wisconsin Belgian Red DARK. Much like his recent Old English Porter, Dan has shown that he isn’t a slave to style guideline when crafting an Unplugged-series beer.  He’s also not afraid of bringing favorites back from the dead.

Even though he states on each Unplugged bottle that each iteration is “a very limited edition and we make no promises to ever make this style again”, the precedent for resurrection was set with a second bottling of his phenomenal Apple Ale several years after its initial bottling.  Apparently his many fans made their love for Cherry Stout known to the degree that he relented and rebrewed this gem.  Many hundreds of beers wiser, I’m happy to revisit a beer that certainly got my attention as an up-and-coming appreciator of craft beer.

Beer: New Glarus Unplugged Cherry Stout

Style: Cherry Stout

Vitals: 6.6% abv, Eight Wisconsin malted barleys combined with Wisconsin Montmorency Cherries

Company line: “(Originally seventh in our series.) Due to popular demand we brought back Dan’s Gold Medal winning “Unplugged Cherry Stout.” This ale is aged in Oak barrels to promote the spontaneous fermentation. Eight Wisconsin malted barleys combined with Wisconsin Montmorency Cherries make for a complex and sublime taste experience that you may never find again. Discover why Dan is repeatedly recognized as the Best Brewmaster in America.”

My take (2): First off, my original review from February 23, 2006 (ahh, memories)

Pours a dark brownish-garnet, exceptionally translucent for a “Stout” with a short film of bubbles that fades with a hiss almost instantly. Nose is tart, tart cherries predominantly with some milk chocolate and a hint of maltiness. Tastes like their Belgian Red, a hint of oakiness, with some dark malt added for a bit of choco/caramel sweetness. Mouthfeel is rich and mouth-puckering. This is delicious as a fruit beer, but I really question its classification as a stout, it’s dark, but completely translucent and the roasted malts play a very small part in the overall taste profile of the beer. A more fitting name would be Wisconsin Belgian Red Dark. Overall, another unique creation which makes me so glad to live near such a solid and creative brewery like New Glarus.

This time around, the attractive caramel/khaki head has some staying power, leaving some spotty lacing in the glass.  Nose bursts, first with sweet cherry juice, then with a more tart wild twang and an underlying cocoa powder base.  Development on the palate closely follows that of the nose – sweet juicy cherry up front , twangy tartness that pinches the cheeks, and a smooth chocolate and roasted malt finish that reminds you this is a dark beer.  Body is velvety and obviously much lighter than your standard stout.  This is an impressively put-together beer from start to finish that hits all of Dan’s strengths as a brewer – fruit, oak, wild fermentation and above all else, impeccable balance.  Glad to have another shot at enjoying this one with a better-developed palate.  A real treat.

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. –newglarusbrewing.com

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.

‘Tis the Season: New Glarus Snowshoe Ale

18 Nov

*Holiday music sold seperately.

Snowshoe is a beer that New Glarus likes to trot out for the holiday season, then lock up in the cellar, not to be seen for years.  That’s part of the allure of New Glarus’ rotating seasonal slate.  In any given year, there is no guarantee you’ll see a certain offering.  Recently, Dan and Deb have turned to their fans for suggestions for new beer styles and for which seasonals they most want to see in the coming year.  Gotta love a brewery that listens to its loyal followers.

Snowshoe isn’t a beer meant to knock your socks off.  It’s just a solid red ale with a robust malt backbone and brisk, spicy hop profile that makes for good drinking as Wisconsin’s all-too-short autumn becomes but a fuzzy memory.  In a time of the year where breweries are parading out heavy-handedly-spiced winter warmers, it’s refreshing to see an imminently-drinkable, expertly-constructed, yet robust ale meant for repeated quaffing.  A fine rival to Capital Brewery’s Winter Skal – another fine example of locally-made winter red ale that shuns the spice for understated elegance.

Beer: New Glarus Snowshoe Ale

Stlye: Amber/Red Ale

Vitals: 5.35% abv, American and German malts, Yakima Golding and Bavarian Hallertau hops

Description: “Expect this beer to be a beautiful copper-red, with a fruity ale body and a spiced hop finish. Then sit back and rejoice in the season because it’s these Wisconsin winters that keep the whiners out. –newglarusbrewing.com

My take: Really does pour a striking ruby-amber, with ample khaki-colored creamy head.  Nose is surprisingly fruity for a straight-forward red ale, with a coppery metallic hop edge.  Sweet, fruity malts are balanced by a dry, toasty finish, braced by the sprucey/herbal hops.  Evokes the act of cutting down a Christmas tree, as cheesy as that sounds.  Who says I can’t be sentimental?

New Brew: New Glarus Unplugged Cran-bic Ale

13 Nov


New Glarus Unplugged Cran-bic Ale

Cuz who doesn't love a pun?

The middle of November brings a timely new addition to the venerable New Glarus Unplugged line of experimental beers.  Dan Carey has always had a way with fruit, his Raspberry Tart, Wisconsin Belgian Red, Apple Ale, Cherry Stout, and Enigma all standout offerings showing a deft hand at masterfully blending fruit into solid beer bases that serve as a stage for showcasing the fresh seasonal fruits.  The newest addition to Dan’s fruity family is the Unplugged Cran-bic Ale.  Sounds like a perfect addition to finer Thanksgiving menus across the great state of Wisconsin.

Beer: New Glarus Unplugged Cran-bic Ale

Style: Fruit lambic

Vitals: 6.0% abv, “Sparkling and bright this is a Wisconsin original created for you in the traditional method employed by the Lambic Brewers of Belgium including five months of outdoor resting in oak barrels. Indigenous yeast and cranberries from the “wilds” of Wisconsin flawlessly pair to dance on your palette. You have discovered a rare and delightful treasure to be served cold in a fluted glass.”

My take: Pours a crystal clear shade of burnt amber (perhaps you were expecting cranberry red?) under a short-lived and loosely packed foamy white head.  Nose is dominated by the fruit, with a brown sugar and spice malty depth.  Primarily sweet on the palate, this is certainly not a super-dry lambic in the Belgian tradition.  The balanced tartness and crisp malt backbone falls somewhere between the Belgian Red and Apple Ale for me.  Often, Dan’s barrel-aged beers are very oak-forward, but the wood takes a backseat here.  What he has created is an immanently-drinkable ale that balances the sweet, sour and tart profiles of the fruit masterfully.  It also served as a perfect “dessert” for a light dinner salad of mixed greens from my CSA bonus box, dried cranberries, walnuts, feta, and a quick balsamic vinaigrette I whipped up on the spot.

"House" salad

Bonus Recipe!: Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredient Rollcall:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • dash of salt, sugar, cracked pepper, herbes de Provence

How I do it:

  1. Pour vinegar (~2 tablespoons for 1-2 portions), mustard (~1 teaspoon), and seasoning in small mixing bowl.
  2. Begin whisking and slowly drizzle an equal amount of olive oil into vinegar mixture until well-blended and emulsified.
  3. That’s it.  Make your own dressing.  It’s so freaking easy.
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