Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tasting Notes: IPA From the Land of Fried Cheese Curds

Two years ago I went to a co-op conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin--the city with the most bars per capita in America--and fell in love with the beers from that region. One brewery, New Glarus, shines above the rest. New Glarus' beers are crafted using mostly Wisconsin barley, and some feature other ingredients that are produced regionally, such as Door County cherries, and apples. I am very fortunate to have a friend and co-worker from Wisconsin, who has willingly shlepped trunk-loads of these fine beers back to Texas for me on several occasions. She recently went home for the Holidays, and sadly, this was my last chance to have her play courier, as she is moving back home in May. 

When she returned from her trip, I was stoked to see what kind of goodies I was getting this time. I had requested the usual booty of Wisconsin Belgian Reds, Raspberry Tarts, and any Bell's beer she could find. I was like little boy on Christmas when I came home and saw a New Glarus sampler twelve pack on my porch, nestled next to a box containing the sour beers, a six pack each of Bell's Two Hearted Ale, and Consecrator Dopplebock, as well as the most recent New Glarus Unplugged series - Apple Ale. This was a major score. 

For this edition of Tasting Notes, I'll be reviewing New Glarus' Hop Hearty IPA. I first had this beer in La Crosse at a party in a hotel room full of a wide spectrum of Co-operators. We had made a crazy, several hundred dollar beer run to the local co-op, buying them almost entirely out of their New Glarus stock. It was a great night. Flash forward two years to a chilly Texas 'winter' night, and a lone Flapjacks carefully selecting one beer to drink, and review. It was a tough decision, but Hop Hearty won out in the end. 

Rob Baran laying down the mack.

Best picture of Steven ever!

Rose Marie of Wheatsville Board Prez fame, and Dill Pickle's Steven admiring bottles of Stone Soup

This Wisconsin IPA is not bashful by any means; massive citrusy hops aroma dominate the nose, but the rich, caramel malt backbone stands up to the Cascade and East Kent Goldings dry hop additions with the grace of a career alcoholic. The alcohol content is average for a New World IPA, weighing in at 6.2% ABV, yet due to its deliciousness, you could regretfully kick back a few of these with ease. One of the things that I really like about this beer is the tasteful use of the ubiquitous Cascade hops. Unlike craft brewers from the West Coast, Daniel Carey doesn't overload the flavor of the beer with this hop variety, instead, I feel he utilizes its strengths of providing aroma and lingering bitterness. Think of any beer produced by Sierra Nevada to get an idea of the abuse of the Cascade hop. Their beers, although consistent and often even great, rely too heavily on this hops variety, diminishing any true variety in the flavor and aroma of their products. 

New Glarus wins for their simple, yet classy labels. 

Unfortunately, this whole post is just a tease. New Glarus does not distribute to Texas, but if you're really nice to me, I might share one with you, or at least let you smell it. Safe and happy drinking in '09; don't drink and drive, you might spill your beer.


Shadd Scott said...

I am drooling.

TexasDeb said...

Well the folks in the photos seem to be really enjoying what they are drinking.

I hereby challenge you to now review one imbibable (is that a word?) something that those of us who read your blog might actually be able to buy and taste for ourselves?

Otherwise I am just sitting here harboring IPA envy.

Flapjacks said...


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