Beer Review 0575: New Glarus Thumbprint Apple Ale
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 breweries, New Glarus have a year-round series, a seasonal series, and a special, limited release volume called Thumbprint. In this series, they allow Mr. Carey free reign to do whatever he chooses — as such, some of the beers are only brewed once. The beer we’re looking at today plays up to one of New Glarus’ biggest strengths — fruit beer — using freshly picked apples, the fruit is dosed into a base brown ale. Apple Ale comes in at 4% ABV (alcohol by volume).
The pour spills out a small, fast diminishing head that looks like soap suds atop the beer, which is a burnt golden color, verging on copper. The body is fairly hazy, but once the chill wears off, there’s still a little haze left behind. The beer is clear of particles and sediment, and lacing never forms, which is typical of these lower ABV New Glarus fruit offerings.
The nose indeed features a ton of apple, and various types of apples at that: sweet, ripe, floral red apples and a bit of tart and dry green apples. There are hints of other fruits as well, including cranberry, tart cherries, and even some honeydew melon. The malt backing adds another dimension to the brew, contributing warm whiffs of sweet caramel. Apple and caramel? Oh yes.
On the taste, the apples are initially tart, along with tart cherries with a swish of drying cranberry juice. The flavors quickly open up to sweet juicy apple, coupled with caramel malt sweetness. As you might have discerned — this beer is like dipping apples into caramel. The finish is like a firework finale of everything experienced in the initial taste — we’ve got apple peel, red apple sweetness, green apple tartness, and caramel. The slightly above average carbonation adds a nice zip to the flavors and feel of the beer. Apple Ale is light-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.
New Glarus strike again in the Fruit Beer category! If their goal was to explore the apple, they succeed here with perfect marks. Then, they paired those deliciously fresh apples with a backing beer that enhances the drink to a level of excellence. You need to try this one! (Unless you don’t like apples.)
New Glarus Thumbprint Apple Ale, 91 points. Price: $9.99 US for a four-pack.