As if I hadn’t reminded him lately that he has always been the best gift-giver on the face of the planet, The Korean Lover recently lugged an assorted six-pack of brews from the New Glarus Brewing Company all the way back from Wisconsin for my tasting pleasure. From now until Jesusmas, my tasting pleasure will become your tasting pleasure. Before this week, I’ve never had the opportunity to try their beers, but I’ve always heard good things about New Glarus Brewing. Their Wisconsin Belgian Red comes in at an impressive number 42 on BeerAdvocates top 100 beers list.
I have to say, I really like New Glarus’ packaging. The labels are printed on non-glossy, off-white paper with only a couple colors of ink, and they’re a little bit crooked, giving the whole presentation a earthy, craft feel. All this means is that I don’t mind the bottle being near while I’m drinking the beer. Usually, I’m all like, “Don’t you fucking look at me.”
The Staghorn Octoberfest is the third beer on the list, and it is also the third beer on the list to claim two different styles. The label says Octoberfest. Fair enough. But the side of the label, where New Glarus pitches their beer, they refer to it as “Wisconsin’s Real Red.” Well, which is it? Is it an Octoberfest, or is it a Red? (Not that I base the quality of a beer on its adherence to BJCP or AHA style, I just think New Glarus’ persistent non-conformity is noteworthy.)
Staghorn is definitely amber/red in color, quite clear for an Octoberfest, and pours with a tight, thin head. You could almost mistake this for a lighter-bodied barleywine, but that would be unfortunate, because light-bodied barleywines are stupid. The aroma is rich and sweet. When I closed my eyes I saw a caramel-coated apple. I haven’t even had any beer yet and I see candy when I close my eyes. Very little hop aroma if any, which allows the caramel aromas to come through.
The taste is robust, malty, and sweet, with less roasted flavor than I was expecting based on the color and the Fat Squirrel from last night. Hops are almost undetectable, and the finish is very clean save a small amount of tannins and acidity. A shorter mash might fix the tannins, but what the fuck do I know? This beer is simple and clean and tastes like people from the midwest sound when they talk. The mouthfeel was a little thin by the end, but that might be because I’ve taken to drinking everything out of a bourgeoise snifter.
If I had to put the beers of Xmas I’ve had so far in some sort of arbitrary ranking it would look like this:
1. Spotted Cow
3. Fat Squirrel