Forbidden Beer

December 4, 2008 at 12:52 am (Beer, Travel, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , )

Holy cow. I do so wish that Chicago had some of the lovely beer from New Glarus. But, alas…I had to drive myself all the way to the brewery to stock up.

And, oh boy, did I stuff my cheeks with lots of beer. I grabbed all the ‘Unplugged’ series of brews and schlepped them back to Chicago. While I was in New Glarus, we toured the new facility, drank a flight of beer, and dropped into the local ‘living room’ bar. Good times.

Maybe it is worth waiting and planning a road trip around…Madison was awesome. We crashed at the Arbor House eco B&B, noshed at the Monroe Street Bistro (with the most giant bowl of amazing mussels and a great Manhattan), had a fancy night out at L’toile (all local, organic food and an extensive, fun wine list!), stumbled upon a great little Italian restaurant (with Eagle Rare and Del Maguey mexcal!), and steamed up in the Madison Conservatory. Nice little escape before the madness of the holidays.

ALT is my favorite so far…

The traditional altbier is a German brown ale, best known as the preeminent beer style of Düsseldorf, the Rhine River city located in the center of the industrial heartland of western Germany. The word “alt” means “old” in German, and signifies the beer’s established presence before pale lagers from Bavaria became the country’s and subsequently the world’s dominant style.

Altbiers are fermented at warm ale temperatures, but conditioned in cooler temperatures and for longer periods, creating an ale that shares characteristics with a lager. These brews range in color from deep bronze to a hazy ruby brown, and have a thick head, faint fruity tones, and biscuity or toasted flavors. The finish is commonly dry and lightly hopped, but overall clean in taste.

Brewmaster Dan Carey says New Glarus Alt is loosely based on the Düsseldorf style. A heavy malt bill for this beer, along with a three-hour boiling time and additions of Turbinado Sugar — a raw form that commonly comes as light brown crystals — all combine for strong caramel flavors with assertive toffee tones. The altbeer is subsequently aged in open-top oak fermentors and then bottle conditioned. It’s a beer that should age very nicely, maybe up to a couple of years.

The beer style police might find fault with the aggressive caramel sweetness and high alcohol of New Glarus Alt. But I loved the roasty toasty, distinctive toffee notes and smooth warmth. I definitely stashed a few bottles and hope it lasts for the 2009 holidays. Fingers crossed, we’ll test out the effects of aging!

I also tried the Bohemian Lager last night…it was lovely, yeasty and crisp with a bit of spice and clean finish. But, admittedly, I am not a huge fan of lagers.

In the fridge, still to come…the Apple Ale, Berliner Weiss (made with Riesling and Pinot Grigio grapes and aged in wood!), as well as the new release of the Belgian Red made with Door County cherries, and the Raspberry lambic style. Stay tuned.

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1 Comment

  1. Erin said,

    yummmmmmmmmmmmm.
    i am still holding off on popping open the Alt you so graciously brought me. But look out for when I do. You’ll hear my YIPPPPEEEEEEE from across the city!

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