Last weekend I ran into reader Kassie who happened to be running around South of the River. She was kind enough to share a bottle of New Glarus’ Wisconsin Belgian Red Ale with me. Rated at a 96/100 on BeerAdvocate and winner of numerous awards in the last 15+ years, I have to admit that this one intrigued me even if I am not at all a fan of fruity beers.
I took it home on Saturday planning to drink it that night. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to it until Monday night instead. The bottle is a big beast at 25oz (a little over a pint and a half) and is sealed with wax making it look a lot like a wine bottle. The labeling is simple and was applied unevenly but I wasted little time cracking it open.
The first whiff was of sweet cherries and nothing else. I poured it into a pint glass even though New Glarus suggests a brandy snifter or champagne flute and immediately noticed the deep red color and lingering head. The cherry smell almost overwhelming, so much so that I really began to reconsider trying it at all. However, I pushed through and took a deep drink.
My first impression was that this beer wasn’t a beer at all and instead was simply a recreation of my childhood favorite soda, Cherikee Red. It was sweet, carbonated, and had a strong cherry flavor that seriously tasted artificial. The only difference between New Glarus’ offering and any cherry sodas is that the mouthfeel afterwards is very similar to hard cider–a dry and parched feeling.
I was surprised that I made it all the way through the bottle. While I really expected this to be a sip or two and down the drain with it, I have to admit that I found myself wanting to make the drive to WI soon to get stock up on this stuff. While this isn’t something I can drink on a daily or even weekly basis, it’s certainly something I would enjoy from time to time throughout the year.
New Glarus notes that it goes well with many different food items including spicy ones. While I think the carbonation would really enhance the spice levels of the food I eat in a negative way, I could certainly agree that it would work with a lot of different dishes and I suggest that even if you are not a fan of fruit beers that you give this one a try if you have a chance.
Have you ever had New Glarus’ Wisconsin Belgian Red Ale? If so what did you think of it? Are you a fan of fruit beers in general and if so what others have you tried that you’ve enjoyed? Whatever you have to say about New Glarus’ cherry beer go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.