“Flavor: Highly carbonated and intense with cherry flavor and bouquet”
That’s taken from the New Glarus description of their beer, Belgian Red. There is over a pound of cherries that go into each bottle (not IN the bottle, but, you get it). Never in my life have I uttered the words while drinking a beer, “This could really use some more alcohol.”
This is not a knock against Belgian Red. At 4 percent ABV it’s meant to share with friends as a delightful session beer, however that pound of cherries really packs a wallop. It’s got a 97 on Beer Advocate.
As you’d expect, this beer pours ruby red. The first sniff offers up thoughts of maraschino cherries, sweet like candy. This beer smells sugary sweet and near syrupy in its cherry intensity. The sheer amount of cherry flavor packed into each bottle is equivalent to just sticking your nose in a bottle of artificial flavoring.
Somewhere, I could smell wheat and roasted grain calling out, but those cherries shut the door pretty damned quick. This is bright, sweet cherry up front, at the end and all day long.
… and also with the taste. Belgian Red drinks more like a sweet cider than a beer. There is no tartness from the cherries but a ton of syrupy sweetness. The carbonation is great because all the delicate bubbles are a bit refreshing on your palate. However on each sip those cherries just scream “Charge!” and attack again.
Some brown sugar might have shown up on a few sips as well as honey, although by the time I tasted that, the sweetness of all these flavors simply melded together.
More alcohol is not what this style of beer calls for, but I do believe it would help balance some of that crazy sweetness. It’s obviously not what New Glarus was aiming for and that’s OK. I found this beer to be hard to drink, even when sharing with The Missus. If you end up with a 750 mL bottle, find four or five friends and pass it around.
All that said, Belgian Red is unique and worth a shot if you can get your hands on it.
Belgian Red stats:
- Malt: Wisconsin-farmed wheat and Belgian roasted barley
- Hops: Hallertau
- Adjuncts/Additives: Wisconsin cherries
- ABV: 4 percent
- Brewery: New Glarus Brewing of New Glarus, Wisconsin
- Beer Portfolio: Belgian Red from New Glarus
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac