News from New Glarus

January 26, 2010 at 4:35 am

Tom Keith

There’s a possibly interesting article I’m working on that still needs comments from a few people. Several of them haven’t gotten back to me yet. But Dan Carey did.

Dan is the brilliant brewmaster at what is quite possibly Wisconsin’s finest brewery, and certainly one of the top craft  breweries in the country – New Glarus.


New Glarus’ Brewmaster Dan Carey

There will be more from Dan in the coming article, if I ever get around to writing it up. But in the meantime, I got into an interesting discussion with Dan about what we can expect in the coming months from New Glarus.

And that dovetailed nicely with a recent meeting of The Local Beet cognoscenti (I have no idea why I was invited) at Deta’s Café in Rogers Park. “We need more #@*&)^%$#@ news on The Local Beet!” screamed Editor at Large Rob Gardner, at the humbled, cowering mini-mass of locavore-foodies that try their best to add content to this site. (Possible exaggeration for entertainment value.)

Okay, Rob, I got your news, right here. And it’s straight from New Glarus’ brewmaster’s mouth.

Recently, New Glarus opened its new, Hilltop brewery. A lot – maybe even an entire bevy – of new beers will be burping out of there soon. (How many is in a bevy, anyway?)


New Glarus’ new Hilltop brewery

First news from Dan: “We’re re-making our Enigma.” One of the limited-edition beers in New Glarus’ generally excellent Unplugged series, Enigma was a beer made only once, in 2006. Until now. “We’re going to be brewing that here in the next week.”

New Glarus describes Enigma as “a complex and intriguing original. The mystery began with wild yeast spontaneously fermenting a rich treasure of malted barley and whole cherries. Unlined Oak casks breathe deep vanilla hues and chords of smoke into this sour brown ale.” I tasted it in 2006, and there are no words to describe its rich complexity. (“No words” is not a good thing when you’re supposed to be writing about the stuff, but hell, it was 3 1/2 years ago I tasted it. Oh, wait. Maybe “rich complexity” counts as words.) Since 2006, rare bottles have been hoarded by beer geeks, and shared only with the most worthy. Ratebeer gave it 99/100; BeerAdvocate calls it excellent.

Second news from Dan: “We also will be bottling, for our Unplugged series, a beer called Cherry Stout, that we’ve made before.”

It’s a dark ale, aged in Oak barrels, so in addition to the usual Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast for the fermentation, it’s likely to have some Brettanomyces butting in. Dan uses eight different Wisconsin malted barleys, and Wisconsin Montmorency Cherries. One reviewer said, “It tastes like a liquid, chocolate covered cherry, and makes for an ultimate dessert beer, or after dinner drink.”

Third news: “We also have some wine barrels of our lambic [a Belgian style using wild, unpredictable yeasts] going, I don’t know when they will be ready.”

Fourth news: “We’re making a beer we’re going to be calling an Abt.” And no, it’s not made from the dregs of a certain large appliance store in Glenview, Illinois. If you’re familiar with Belgian Dubbel and Tripel styles, Abt would be a darker version of a Quadruple – an example from Belgium would be St. Bernardus Abt 12. It’ll likely to be in the 10+% ABV range. Have a few glasses and then be sure to get home stumbling on foot or wildly waving your hands to flag down a taxi. (The latter approach won’t be particularly effective in some of the more rural areas of Wisconsin.)

Fifth news: “We have a new beer coming out in March. We’re going to stop making our IPA and make a new beer that’s going to be a blonde beer, around 12° Plato [probably leading to a mid-range alcohol level], but very hop-accented.

“We’re beginning with German malts, but it’s going to be made with a blend of hops, mostly American hops, with a real heavy hit of dry hopping — about 2 lbs/barrel of dry hopping. It’s a blend of about six different varieties of hops, so it’s going to be very much a hop-aromatic beer. It won’t be a 100 IBU beer [i.e. extremely bitter], just moderate bitterness, but very aromatic.

“We’re calling it a No-Coast Pale Ale. It’s gonna be sort of our own take on a hop-forward beer. So that’ll be coming out in March.”

But unless you live in Wisconsin, don’t plan on getting any of these beers at your local beer purveyor. Says Dan, “Our plan is to stay in the state – try to concentrate. We’d rather run deep than wide.”

He admits that he’s heard reports of his beers for sale in other states – bootlegged in. He doesn’t get overly upset about it “as long as people aren’t taking our kegs. The kegs are so darn expensive.”

But, “We like to stay small. I’m glad and flattered that people want to try the beer, but we’re not really trying to be a big brewer. A lot of breweries keep growing and keep growing because they’re opening up new territories. We really don’t like that false sense of security. We’d rather concentrate.”

So, I know a trip to New Glarus – southwest of Madison – is in my future. If only to get Rob some more #@*&)^%$#@ news.

photos courtesy New Glarus Brewing



  1. Sharon Ferguson says:

    When will the cherry stout be available?

  2. Jack says:

    Spotted Cow is my favorite beer, bar none.

    • Tom Keith says:

      Spotted Cow is an excellent farmhouse ale. It’s New Glarus’ signature beer. If you really want to appreciate how good it is, try it next to Minhas’ signature beer, Lazy Mutt farmhouse ale. You’ll taste how truly good Spotted Cow is for the style.

      If you want to try more adventurous beers, try some of New Glarus’ Unplugged beers. The Cherry Stout should show up on shelves with a month. But don’t necessarily open it right away – it’s a beer that should age well.

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