Now, I’ve drank a lot of New Glarus beers. I have never had a bad beer from them. If I just want to drink a beer – not experience a beer, but just drink a beer – it’s quite often a New Glarus beer. Spotted cow? Hecks yes! Staghorn Octoberfest? Sign me right up, and in a hurry!
Now the Thumbprint Series is a different animal. They basically just do whatever sounds crazy that year and brew it. This has some different results; I drank what is probably in my top three beers in this series, and I had a beer that was so odd and gross while being of super-high quality.
Smoked Rye. Such an odd and undrinkable beer in my opinion. But to each their own, I suppose.
Anyway, I feel the need to try as many as I can find. I do drive through Wisconsin every week but the selection isn’t always amazing. But I did finally find a store that has some of the Thumbprints and this is what they had for this season:
“…Cassia Cinnamon, Ginger and Allspice…” What? Really? Okay then.
New Glarus Spice Ale
Appearance: A nice, dark amber. Almost a nutty brown
Scent: …but doesn’t smell like this. At first I get the perfect blend of floral and bitter hops, medium-roasted malts, and intangible “good, balanced beer” smell. But as a spend more time with my nose in the glass, I start to smell the spices. And it smells…odd. Like, why am I smelling cinnamon in my beer? It’s just…odd.
Taste: Exactly what you think. I taste a nutty, wonderful brown ale, and I taste cinnamon. Not brown ale mixed with cinnamon; I mean two separate flavors. I just can’t quite get past it. Maybe I psyched myself out, maybe it’s just as I say, but I’m just not sold on it.
Drinkability: If you like it, it goes down smooth. It is an easy drink, not overly complex, fairly smooth. But, if you are sold on the flavor, you’re going to struggle to finish it; the desire to get another beer is going to creep up.
Quality: Exceptional. As is always the case, New Glarus Beer is nothing other than top-notch in the quality department. If you don’t like their beer, it’s because of the flavors and style of the beer, not because they screwed something up.
Overall: Quality and odd as crap. Worth a try if you have four people to split the four pack with.
Unbiased: B. It’s a quality beer, but it’s just a bit past too weird.
Biased: B-. Maybe it’s a bit father than a bit past “too weird” for my tastes. But it is a quality beer, and my dislike of it can’t deny that.
Okay, so that wasn’t my favorite. Maybe it hit me wrong. Maybe a different day it will hit be right. But it hit me wrong. Sue me.
But all is not lost. When I bought the Spiced Ale, I also bought Back 40 Bock. I like bocks. A lot.Swoon! I had a couple…okay, the first six back straight out of the bottle. I maybe have a new standard to get when I can find it.
New Glarus Back 40 Block
Appearance: Dark brown with a light head:
Scent: Darker malts that have that cocoa smell. I’m getting a bit of hops (the right balance for my palate). I can also smell that it’s a bit sweet.
Taste: It’s a bit less flavorful than the scent may lead one to believe. It’s still sweet, it’s still a bock, but it’s a bit anemic. That said, if you drink it from a bottle in the sunshine, it tastes freaking amazing. In fact, I recommend from the bottle in the sunshine.
Drinkability: Well I had to buy a second six-pack because I went through the first one before I got the chance to review it. It goes down smoooooooth! And, if you happen to be someone who isn’t into craft beer and just likes a simple, easy-to-drink beer, this is a good decision.
Quality: Yeah, it’s good. No skunk, no weird flavors, every bottle is good. I will say, it could use a bit more “umph” in the flavor department, but I’m not sure if that’s a quality issue or a style issue (I am very partial to doppelbocks for that reason, I think).
Overall: A good beer, a good bock, a smooth draw out of a long neck. I’m smitten.
Unbiased: B+. Like I said, the flavor is a hair anemic.
Biased: A-/A. I am so biased; I just love bock beers.
I also wanted to share this picture that’s in the background of these pictures:
To crazy creativity!