Thursday, December 30, 2010

Drink Indigenous

One of the problems with drinking locally is the distribution system in the U.S. Our three-tier distribution system requires producers to sell to distributors and these distributors to sell alcoholic beverages to retail stores and restaurants. This system is supposed to promote competition and provide a professional to find the best beverages for the consumer. What this really does is add costs and limit choices for the consumer. Some states allow self distribution by producers (like Colorado) but often times producers do not have the resources to fully distribute to meet demand.

On the other hand, some producers choose to not be widely distributed. A brewer from my home state of Wisconsin supports this system. New Glarus Brewing Company is a small brewery run by Dan and Deb Carey in the little Swiss hamlet of New Glarus, WI. New Glarus is a cult producer in the beer industry. I've had the pleasure of touring the new brewing facilities in Wisconsin, but even more exciting was pouring beer with Dan at the Great American Beer Festival two years ago. New Glarus is the one brewery that all the other brewers line up to taste before the doors are open to the general public. The entire 4-hour session consisted of a line of people vying for a taste of Dan's brews.

Apart from the quality, people line up to taste these beers because they can be had nowhere else besides Wisconsin. Beer lovers in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota all have to drive across the border into Wisconsin just to be able to buy these sought-after beers. If you don't live near the Wisconsin border, good luck finding yourself some! During the holidays, I am lucky enough to usually travel back to Wisconsin and indulge in my New Glarus fix. This year, however, my family drove to Colorado from Wisconsin and were kind enough to bring some recent New Glarus brews with them. For the past week I have been enjoying (and will be enjoying for a some time in the future) a sampling of what is taken for granted in the Land of Cheeseheads (Go Pack Go!). Just as it says on the side of their cases, Drink Indigenous!

New Glarus Brewing Company, Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale

This Nut Brown Ale pours a reddish copper color with little to no head. It has a nutty and roasted malt aroma. Not reminiscent of squirrel, but it does have flavors of nuts, sweet hops and maple syrup. 5.8% abv Purchased $8.49/6-pack. Very Good

New Glarus Brewing Company, Back Forty Wisconsin Bock

This strong lager is a hazy amber color with a medium off-white head. Aromas of caramel and malts are dominant. Unfortunately, the flavor is mostly watery with a hint of caramel and roasted malts. 5.5% abv Purchased $8.49/6-pack. Good

New Glarus Brewing Company, Coffee Stout

This hearty stout is dark brown/black with a tan head. It smells like well-roasted coffee beans with a hint of smoke. Creamy dark chocolate and coffee go a long way on the palate. It is not as strong as most coffee stouts, but it is a tasty brew. 6.3% abv Purchased $8.49/6-pack. Very Good

*Images from www.newglarusbrewing.com*

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