Beer Review 0368: New Glarus Thumbprint IIPA (Imperial IPA)

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New Glarus Brewing Company (New Glarus, Wisconsin) are all about keeping it local. “DRINK INDIGENOUS,” their bottle crowns say — and they mean it; New Glarus doesn’t distribute beers beyond the state of Wisconsin, saying it’s all they can do to keep up with demand just from their home state.

Founded in 1993 by Deborah Carey (the first woman in the United States to found a brewery), New Glarus started life in an abandoned warehouse with used equipment. Dan, Deborah’s husband, is a master brewer and was a production supervisor for Anheuser-Busch. Dan found copper kettles from a brewery in Germany that was to be demolished; when the retiring German brewer learned that his equipment would live on, he sold all of the goods for scrap value to Mr. Carey.

Like most craft brewers, New Glarus have a year-round series, a seasonal series, and a special, limited release volume called Thumbprint. The beer I’ll be reviewing today is from the Thumbprint series — IIPA is an Imperial IPA, brewed to 9.75% alcohol by volume (not listed on the bottle — had to do Internet research to find this. Come on, New Glarus! Alcohol content is a must have piece of info.) and 85 IBUs (International Bitterness Units. This beer is bottle conditioned, and comes in four-packs. Thanks to Dave (OnWisconsin) for sending me this brew to review!

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The pour delivered an average size, creamy head, which was bright white and lasted. The beer was golden in color, with just a small hint of orange around the edges. Clear in body, this IPA is free of particles and sediment, but there is some hop haze. Lacing is good, excellent to start but falls off the more you drink; the glass is left with a solid ring around the top and nothing toward the bottom.

On the nose, New Glarus were heavy-handed with the hops, indeed. Lots of classic grapefruit which mixes well with a large wave of tropical fruits; mango, and lots of pineapple. This smells like fruit juice concentrate, with plenty of orange, lemon, and peach joining in. There are some malts at play here — gentle bread and grain with a hint of caramel sweetness. As the drink warmed, the hops got a little catty.

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The taste hits the tongue with an initial blast of pineapple and grapefruit, both ripe and juicy. The bitterness is soft at first, but really starts to come out in the middle, where the malt shows up; some rye bread and caramel. Then the finish, which delivers more pineapple and a monsoon of bitterness. My mouth was left dry and the bitterness almost tastes salty, but it plays well with the super juicy fruits. The picture I had in my head was a piece of pineapple nearly about to burst from being so juicy. This beer is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel. The alcohol is present, but only as a warming sensation; however, if you do allow this to warm up some, it starts to creep into the flavor.

New Glarus have made a highly drinkable beer that packs a punch in flavor, strength (alcohol), and bitterness. Well done! If I could get this on the regular, I would.

New Glarus Thumbprint IIPA (Imperial IPA), 94 points. Price: $10.49 US for a four pack.

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