U.S. Brewery of the Year: New Glarus Brewing Company

As per my Canadian experience documented yesterday, profligate tasting opportunities made selection of an American brewery of the year a task that was, to say the least, daunting. I sampled more great beer in 2012 from a larger range of breweries in the United States than I have in any year past, and choosing one to highlight above the others was not a task I relished.

Still, choices must be made, and when I thought back on all the beers I tasted over the past twelve months, I realized that no brewery provided quite as many “wow” moments as did the Wisconsin stalwart, New Glarus Brewing.

A look through my notes reveals the tale to be told: marzipan-esque Enigma, part of the “Thumbprint” series of beers we can only hope to see return; gorgeous, complexly fruity Serendipity, a lovely brew crafted as a place-holder for the Wisconsin Belgian Red when the local cherry crop failed; unorthodox Dancing Man Wheat, strong at over 7% alcohol with barbecued banana notes and white peppery spice; cherry pie-esque Cherry Stout, another “Thumbprint” beer; restrained Snowshoe; Kentish-American Hop Hearty; the list goes on and on.

Of course, the rap against New Glarus is Spotted Cow, the ubiquitous Dairy State beer some deride as overly simplistic and dull. But if its success is what allows Deborah and Dan Carey to produce such a remarkable line-up of fringe, occasional and one-off brands, then I say “Let it flow!”

The sole negative, as I see it, is that you can only buy New Glarus beers in Wisconsin, which is tough on the rest of us, but a sign of the Careys commitment to their motto: Drink Indigenous.

For great beer and tremendous growth in their home market, New Glarus Brewing is my choice as U.S. Brewery of the Year for 2012.

Wednesday: 2012′s Latin American Brewery of the Year!

5 Replies to “U.S. Brewery of the Year: New Glarus Brewing Company”

  1. LOVE New Glarus. Being a Northern Illinoisan, I’m thankful to be only a short ride away from making a run for some Fat Squirrel, or my current favorite, Black Top. The Spotted Cow is their flagship, and I think it’s intended to appeal to people who would otherwise drink Budweiser or Miller. Not for me, but as you said if it allows them to keep producing all of the great other New Glarus brands then YAY! Spotted Cow!

  2. Spotted Cow is a great gateway beer to start people down the road to drinking good beer. I love all the variety of beers that New Glarus is able to make now that they have expanded their capacity.

  3. Yes, Spotted Cow started me off, and the only reason at the time was my wife’s at the moment fascination with All Things Cow. My favorite is Fat Squirrel. We have visited the brewery a couple times, and it gives us a reason to go over the border into Kenosha to make a beer run.

  4. Their Back 40 Bock is one of the best bock beers I’ve ever had. It doesn’t have that super bitter after taste that a lot of bocks have.

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