True Romance: New Glarus Gives a New Meaning to Brand Loyalty

If you’re deep in the weeds or thick in the mash or whatever the appropriate idiom would be for someone who thinks about beer too much, you’re likely familiar with New Glarus. The Wisconsin brewery is a unique snowflake in the industry as one of the largest brewers in the country (#16 on the Brewers Association list) … and widely beloved … yet only sells its beer in its home state.

In 2016, the brewer sold 214,000 barrels … only in Wisconsin. To put that in comparison, New Glarus last year sold *more* than Oskar Blues (201,000 barrels), which is distributed nationwide. Or just a touch more than 21st Amendment and Rogue *combined*. Since 2010, New Glarus as grown production 133%, going from 91,937 barrels to 214,000.

So of course they’re going to start selling more. Per Brewbound, New Glarus is about to embark on scaling up, set to reach a future max of 400,000 barrels.

“Did I envision a 400,000 barrel brewery? Hell no,” New Glarus founder and president Deb Carey told Brewbound of the $12 million investment. “We thought we’d be an 8,000 or 15,000 barrel brewery.”

15,000 barrels? How quaint.

This all got me thinking about doing some silly, uneducated math. The best kind.

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Cherry Bomb: New Glarus Belgian Red

cherry-cherry bomb

“Flavor: Highly carbonated and intense with cherry flavor and bouquet”

No kidding.

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.
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Leinenkugel Big Eddy Imperial IPA

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We already know Leinenkugel can make a damn good Russian imperial stout, so what about an additional end of the beer spectrum?

Another entry into their “Big Eddy” series, Leinenkugel’s imperial IPA is good, but falls a bit short of what you might typically expect from an American imperial IPA.

But that might not necessarily be a bad thing, depending on the drinker. It’s got an 87 on Beer Advocate.

The hop aroma of this beer is sweet and pungent on first sniff – not far off from the intensity of Dogfish’s 120 Minute IPA. Big Eddy has a ton more noticeable fruity notes at the very front – orange peel, grapefruit, some lemon – and just a dash of pine. That’s thanks to the use of five strong-armed American hop varieties: Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra. There is plenty of malt on this beer’s nose, however, inspired by sweet, biscuity Munich and Caramel malts. Finally, the back-end of each sniff is infused with a hard citrus bite accompanied by smells of pineapple and mango. It’s impossible to miss the 8.2 percent ABV boozy aroma at the end.

10But it’s the flavor where this beer really stands out – for good or bad. The Big Eddy imperial IPA is most definitely fruity and bitter with a tropical, mango finish accompanied by cane sugar and bubble gum. However, the hop intensity found in the beer’s smell just doesn’t show up at all in the taste. I found pleasant hints of orange and a little pine, but the malt of this IPA goes toe-to-toe with the hops, something you rarely, if ever, see in an American IPA like this. Lots of bread-based sweetness from Munich and Caramel malts will do that to you.

The key here? Balance. Something you just don’t find with IPAs. What this means is if you’re a huge hop-head like me, skip this beer and stick to something from Sierra Nevada or Dogfish. If you’re a beer fan, but aren’t crazy about IPAs, this may be worth trying. The bitterness may be a bit rough at first, but ultimately the balance of malt and hops wins out and makes for a smooth, easy drinking experience.

Big Eddy IPA stats:

  • Malt: Munich, Caramel and Pale Ale
  • Hops: Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra
  • Adjuncts/Additives: N/A
  • ABV: 8.2 percent
  • Brewery: Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Leinenkugel Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout

eddy for web

It took me a long time to realize Leinenkugel made more than Sunset Wheat. I had just never seen anything other than the witbier-like brew in stores. I’m pretty glad that’s changed.

Yes, I know Leinenkugel is owned by SABMiller … and yes, I know Leinenkugel brews are more “crafty” than “craft.” But I’ll be damned if I didn’t just about fall in love with the Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout, which has an 86 on Beer Advocate.

I had a sample of this beer before during last summer’s trip to Milwaukee (including a barrel-aged version) and thought it was pretty good. Well, this year’s stout – bottled and all – was really good.
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Achieving Beervana … or: The Perfect Beer World Nov. 2012 “The Session”

For this month’s “Session” blog post, Jorge over at Brew Beer and Drink It has posed the question of the Perfect Beer World. That is, what will bring us closer to creating our ideal state of be(er)ing. See what I did there?

There are lots of places to start – perhaps world peace would encourage greater brewery collaborations? Saison du BUFF, anyone? But I’m not going to waste my time with such trivial, Kumbaya-like thinking. World peace is a pretty big task when we have a few easy fixes right here at home.

So let’s grab a brew, salute the flag and hit the jump to see how we can create the Perfect Beer World right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, and maybe get some help from our friends around the globe too.
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Out of town – Milwaukee (Part 2: The New Glarusing)

While I have no visual documentation regarding New Glarus, I can assure you any photo would involve me in the fetal position, crying tears of joy while yelling “mmmMMMMmmm” and patting my stomach. New Glarus is not available outside of Wisconsin, with the exception of one beautiful, fleeting moment I found it at the World Beer Festvial-Durham a couple years ago.

They had a java creme brulee stout and Simcoe-based double IPA. It was like an angel pissing on my tongue.

This was a big reason for my excitement of traversing the Wisconsin beer scene, which also included a stop at the Milwaukee Brew Fest. First, some quick thoughts on a few of the six New Glarus beers I tried…

Spotted Cow: How cool is it that a brewery has a farmhouse ale as one of its staple beers? So cool. Not to mention it’s a staple beer that’s conditioned in 12-ounce bottles. I never would think the average drinker would buy enough of this to warrant a year-round run, but it works for me. It pours clear and has a nice, easy funk smell to it that is certainly light enough to please any. It doesn’t come across as sour as Jolly Pumpkin’s Weizen Bam, which had just a little sourness that I consider easy-going. The taste hardly had any sour flavor and came across as crisp and smooth. Like sunshine on my tongue.

Moon Man: This is perhaps my favorite pale ale ever. Being a fan of hoppy beers, this falls perfectly in line with what I’d want from a hopped-up pale ale. It’s got a great smell of hop resin and a flavor that starts pretty calm and finishes with a pine quality. It’s well balanced enough for most beer drinkers, although I fear it might scare off some who want their pale ales to lack any powerful flavors. Well, who needs them anyway? I’ll take Moon Man.

Chocolate Abbey: It’s a dessert beer as far as I’m concerned. Some time ago I wouldn’t have thought a Belgian beer would brew well with chocolate, but by now, why wouldn’t it? While Belgian yeast give the beer it’s usual Belgian ester flavor, there was barely any fruit notes at all. The sweetness of the fruit/esters stayed and mixed well with the chocolate, creating a beer that quickly becomes a chocolatey wonder. The body is light, the flavor is thick. An interesting combination.

Milwaukee Brew Fest “taster”

As for the beer festival – also a win. You know it’s going to be a good time when there are never any lines for the Porta Potties. Also, this was the “taster” glass they give you…

‘Sconsin does it right. Some quick thoughts on great beers after the jump.
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Out of town – Milwaukee (Part 1)

“Perfected mediocrity.”

This is how my friend best put into words my general feelings from my first day (ever) in the state of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee. How is this applicable? My initial foray into Wisconsin beer (non-New Glarus) was a mixed bag. Two trips to local breweries mostly left me scratching my head.

Milwaukee Brewing Company flight

At Milwaukee Brewing Company my flight of beers offered something unique – the first cream ale I could ever stand. Every other cream ale I’ve ever had has been too watery and devoid of taste (corn not bring an ideal taste from beer). But somehow, Outboard gets around that corn flavor, even though it is an ingredient. Perhaps it’s the 6.5 percent ABV that adds something extra? Or some Saaz hops in a traditional American beer? Either way, it actually had some kind of flavor and a light bitterness that I haven’t found elsewhere. To put it bluntly, it was the least cream ale of any cream ale I’ve had. Somehow, this brewery managed to make (to me) a perfect version of an otherwise mediocre beer style.

My other favorite from Milwaukee Brewing Company was their Polish Moon milk stout which isn’t the “winter warmer” it promises to be with a 4.5 percent ABV, but is nice and sweet, but the lactose is best overpowered by roasted intensity that adds a great amount of body and flavor to the beer.

Louie’s Demise, the brewery’s flagship beer, was a perfectly fine amber ale that didn’t really have anything that made it stand out, but was good and something I could drink a lot of in one sitting.

Lakefront Brewery flight

The second stop of day one brought us to Lakefront Brewery, where another flight offered quality across the board, but nothing that blew me away. I loved – in idea – the Wisconsinite hefeweizen, which is an all-locally sourced hefe. The flavor was pretty hum-ho and everything you’d expect with banana esters and a bready backbone. It was mostly the fact they’re able to get malt, hops and yeast locally, which is just a cool aspect of the beer.

Another “stand out” from Lakefront was their New Grist gluten-free beer. The only other gluten-free offering I’ve ever had was the Tweason’ale from Dogfish Head, and New Grist was a perfectly toned down version of that. While the base of both these beers is the same – sorghum – Dogfish’s addition of strawberry and honey gives Tweason’ale a easily recognizable flavor. New Grist tasted just like Tweason’ale, but without any additional flavoring. It was a bit sweet with a clean finish, but not much else. Granted, this is what I imagine you’d want from such a beer.

The Brunch Box

One other novelty from the trip was Comet Cafe‘s “Brunch Box,” which was neither brunch nor a box, but was had with breakfast. This drink consisted of amaretto, orange juice, generic Belgian white and topped with Guinness. The orange/amaretto/Guinness combination was very good and seemed to enhance the chocolatey-roasted flavor of the beer a bit. Try making yourself – highly recommended.

Fantasy football, beer and grunting

Today I’m just a slab of steak and explosion away from my Manliest Post Ever upon a return trip to Friend Of The Program David Gonos’ website.

My task? A fantasy football/beer mashup or sorts, pairing beers with players. Get a taste of what Aaron Rodgers offers below then click through to find out what you need to drink to properly party with Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, the rowdiest Patriot of them all.