2 O’Clock Tasting
New Glarus Brewing

Named after their hometown in Wisconsin, New Glarus Brewing is an exceptional company in a number of ways. Not only were they founded in 1993, well before the craft beer revival took off in the US, but they were also created by a woman, Deborah Carey, who runs the brewery to this day with her husband, New Glarus brewmaster Daniel. This makes Carey the first woman to found and operate a brewery in the United States. She continues to run the business side of the brewery, leading New Glarus to two consecutive wins for the Association of Beer's "Mid Size Brewery of the Year" awards in 2005-06, along with many others since. Stylistically, New Glarus displays an emphasis on natural ingredients and wears their Wisconsin roots proudly on their sleeve. Simplicity is their utmost goal, though they don't sacrifice ingenuity to achieve it. Many of their brews are bold and daring, but each of them works because of the lack of frivolity surrounding their powerful flavors. Today, we looked primarily at their seasonal brews and lagers, two categories which overlap heavily in the New Glarus catalog. Here's what we thought:

  1. Yokel

    4.2% ABV

    A lager in the Munich Helles style, this bottle-conditioned brew looked peachy and juicy, with an amber hue and a frothy, bone-colored head that lingered impressively. The "juice" note proved applicable in the nose, as well, where shades of apple combined heartily with malty, nutty scents, along with the aroma of baked crackers. The taste, then, was a complementary surprise, with a wet mouthfeel and slight acidity. Few flavors dominated, but the beer was, overall, quite balanced and smooth, with little hop profile and a delicate lightness of touch.

  2. Totally Naked

    4.25% ABV On the New Glarus website, they have a lengthy quote describing this Wisconsin lager at the top of every page. The end of the description is, "This is beer at its most basic," and the Totally Naked lives up to the words. Visually, it is strikingly pale, with a greenish tinge and white, spider-webbed head, with good lacing on the sides of the glass. Warm, agricultural scents of grilled corn and mild maltiness were all that stood out - otherwise, the airy simplicity shone through. After these simple, rounded details, the taste was no surprise, with a lightness of body and faint sweetness that, combined with the basic maltiness, reminded us of Wheat Thins. Most of all, we were thoroughly impressed by how many of these we could have drunk without even thinking about it - this is a truly chuggable beer.
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  4. Two Women Lager

    5% ABV

    This was the only year-round brew in this tasting, and it absolutely has the best backstory. This classic country lager is a collaboration with Weyermann Malting, another woman-led craft beer company, and the result is a delight. The Two Women poured with a warm agave color and foamy head, releasing scents of apricot, tasted pecan, and an uncut, doughy texture, like drop biscuits. As for the taste, however, we must admit that our description is lacking - as soon as we tasted it, it was gone. We know that it is a pleasurable amber/lager blend, but we drank it so fast and so easily that we didn't have time to unpack its subtler characteristics. It's just too good.

  5. Staghorn Octoberfest

    6.25% ABV

    New Glarus call this beer "Wisconsin's Real Red," and we must agree that it's a very accurate description. The orangey, coppery hue practically pulsated from our tasting glasses, topped by a parchment-colored, buttermilk head. The Staghorn also proudly touts its multivarious spices and "the world's most expensive hops," all of which came through in the nose, along with fruity and nutty scents of raisins, cherries, and sliced almonds. Also intriguing is the fact that the Staghorn is made using a technique called "Krausening," which takes actively fermenting beer and adds it to the finished product, so that the living yeast can work on the residual sugars left in the finished beer. In the Staghorn's case, this draws out the toasted-bread taste from the roasted malts, which also provides a light caramel note on the finish. Combined with the spice and fruit flavors, this makes the Staghorn an excellent autumn brew.