Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: Altbier

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Just when the holidays arrive and you think things are going to get boring—and they always fucking do—New Glarus Brewing decides to pull out some new crazy-ass shit called Alt. In German, that means old, and the alt style is basically your run-of-the-mill amber ale, although a more authentic one would have a little bit of tinniness and not the giant malt profile you find in a lot of American ambers.

But when you reach for a sixer of New Glarus’ version, just throw all those preconceptions out the goddamn window. Because this alt takes old to another level, like aging the beer in open wooden fermenters then bottle conditioning the end product. So not only do you have a caramel malt brew lightened up by Turbinado sugar jacked with Styrian Golding and Hallertau hops, but you’ve got some Brett-induced sourness to boot. And with a starting gravity of 20° Plato, you’re talking somewhere between 8 and 10 percent ABV. Like I said, crazy-ass shit.

The pour is a light copper, topped with a great big, sticky, cream-colored head. Wafts of biscuity malt, peppery spiciness, and tangy funk emanate from the glass in almost visible waves. The front end of the sip is sharp and even a bit tongue-numbing, with a spicy, carbonated bite. This gives way to a smooth, lightly malty middle that quickly transforms into a somewhat long finish of moderate Brett sourness, although not dominatingly so. A distinct, earthy hop nip bites the end off each sip with mechanical precision.

A lesser brewer couldn’t have pulled this brew off, at least without a giant wad of luck. Think about it: the sipping seamlessly melds from spice to sweet to sour to bitter, creating a massively complex yet drinkable beer. Other brewers may have let the Brett sourness dominate too much, blown everything up with a malt overload, or buried the end of the sip with gobs of hops. But that is the genius of New Glarus brewer Dan Carey: controlled complexity flawlessly executed. Or, in more easily understandable terms, crazy-ass shit.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on December 4, 2008.
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