Visiting the newly constructed New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wisconsin, is like stepping into the future — the good kind of future, not the kind of future that’s dominated by post-apocalyptic mutants or replicants. It’s an Upper Midwestern brewery that’s airy, clean, easy to tour, and fully engaging. Beer tasting is a snap. The brew kettles are works of art. The giftshop is packed with beer- and cheese-related miscellanea, including something I’ve been searching for without success for more than three years: a cheese board shaped like the state of Wisconsin. Hallelujah!
There are some neat extras, too, such as a couple of beers that are only available for sale on site. One such beer is New Glarus Golden Ale. It’s not cheap ($8 for a 500ml bottle), and it’s oddly labeled, the front dominated by a faint, pencil-style font that gives you the “Brew Master’s Notes” plus all the beer nerd particulars: the style (golden ale), brew date, bottle date, IBUs (38), batch, original gravity (15 degrees Plato), and ABV (7%).
From a flavor and experience perspective, it’s remarkable stuff. Alive and still fermenting in the bottle, it’s got quite a lot of carbonation and develops a thick, foamy head built around large bubbles. The smell is floral, and the taste is perfumed and honeyed with a bit of a hoppy back and a clean finish — the adjective I jotted down on the back of a nearby envelope was “angelic.” New Glarus Golden Ale is light on its feet and feels like an extravagance — this would make a perfect beverage for a wedding toast.
Add Golden Ale to your list of reasons to pop down to New Glarus next time you’re in the Madison area, and don’t miss the cheese fondue at the Glarner Stube while you’re down there; as an added bonus, the restaurant’s also got eight New Glarus beers on draft.