Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: Imperial/Double IPA

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

Pair With:
A good friend of mine with a penchant for philosophizing … let’s call him “Confucius” for the sake of this review … once uttered the following phrase:

“To fulfill good intentions, Man needs plenty of time, patience, and good fucking beer.”

I take those words to heart for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that past phrases of Confucius, such as “Man who walk sideways through airport is going to Bangkok,” have stood the test of time and resonate as reality even in this crazy modern age.

As to the original phrase cited, I must admit that 2011 Nigel has plenty of good intentions, but unfortunately zero patience and even less time. Sure, craft beer remains plentiful. Many a long day toiling on the side of the road as Director of Macaroni Noodle Trinkets, Radioactive Japanese Tourist Division has been eased by a hop-induced euphoria upon my return home. While plenty of the wonderful brews I’ve enjoyed over the course of the past few months certainly deserved a review, it’s much, much easier to drink them while unwinding on the couch, watching the usual sports or History/Travel Channel reality crap rather than spending a few minutes to type up come commentary.

To begin my hopeful return to semi-regular reviews, I want to return to my first love, the tiny, aromatic green cone that sprouts off the luscious hop vine every fall. It’s the “Spring Tour O’ West Coast IPAs,” which is easily the most anticipated tour of 2011 outside of Lady GaGa’s “Bisexual Dance Shit-O-Rama,” which will be drawing confused 13 year old girls to an arena near you this summer.

Rather than jumping right into the West Coast brews smuggled back from my annual trip to Arizona, which also included stops in New Mexico and Texas this year, I thought I’d start local. After all, what better way to kick off a sampling of fine IPAs than with New Glarus Brewing’s latest Unplugged series brew, simply called IIPA.

To be honest, this better be damn good, as I’m still bitter (pun somewhat intended) about New Glarus ceasing, at least for 2011, the production of their fine IPA, Hop Hearty Ale. New Glarus has made one Hell of a name for themselves brewing a variety of incredibly good brews of all shapes and sizes, but I can’t fathom for the life of me why they would pull away from Hop Hearty in favor of the much inferior Moon Man Pale Ale. New Glarus has never been known as a brewer that relies on hops, but when they do, they do it extremely well.

IIPA (in case you haven’t figured it out, the extra “I” indicates this is an imperial IPA) pours well, with the added bonus of little red foil shavings that fell off the wrapped cap when poured. The pour reveals a golden brown ale with a vibrant pillowy white head that slowly dissipates, leaving a good amount of creamy lace throughout and plenty of sticky residue on the side of the glass. A bubbly dance permeates in the glass and I’m struck by the crystal clear profile IIPA has, with virtually no sediment or cloudiness … it looks much lighter in the glass than it actually is.

Aromas are wonderfully hoppy, as you would expect them to be. However, the light color is again somewhat deceiving as there is a surprisingly strong base of grainy, earthy pale malt and light sugars. Overall, the aroma is dominated by light, tangy citrus and the typical zip of Northwest hops.

The taste is solid, but fails to gain the five-mug upper echelon that I was so hoping IIPA would achieve, although it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Initial flavors of citrus, mainly zesty orange and grapefruit with a hint of tropical fruit, comes through at the outset. The bitterness of the hops takes over next, with the slight profile of evergreen. Finally, the grassy notes and light sugary backbone of the pale malt finishes the flavor off, providing the perfect balance to the more effervescent tones found at the outset. It’s a great example of a double IPA, though no particular characteristic really stands out. Complex but still nicely balanced, IIPA is medium bodied and goes down smooth, though the strength of the brew (no ABV listed, but I’m feeling about 9 percent after my second one) and the multiple flavors that come through make this a candidate for one or two in an evening rather than a session brew.

Overall, IIPA is another worthy entry into the long line of New Glarus Unplugged brews. Everything about it, from the pour to the final sip, makes it a prime example of a double IPA. However, it does lack that single unique characteristic that would push it from very good to great, so it remains a respectable four mugs. New Glarus once again proves that while they may not emphasize hops very often, when they do they do it well. IIPA is a great option for a strong summer ale, so be sure to check it out while you can. Like most Unplugged brews, it’s sure to be hard to find by the end of the summer when supplies begin to dwindle.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on April 21, 2011.
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