The brainchild of head brewer and owner Dan Carey, Enigma was originally brewed in 2003, but was first bottled and released in 2006 as part of the Thumbprint Series of beers at New Glarus. The Thumbprint Series, according to Carey, “…are still brewed with the beer enthusiast in mind. Thumbprint beers are brewed in small batches that are intended to be available for one time only. However, popular demand has caused some styles to return. This is my own thumbprint, to let everyone know this is a real New Glarus handcrafted beer! Cheers.”

Thumbprint Series includes four different beers:

• Scream IIPA – An 85 IBU double IPA
• Apple Ale – A brown ale brewed with wheat and fresh picked apples
• Berliner Weisse – A traditional take on the style
• Enigma – A sour brown ale aged in oak with cherries

Enigma starts out with a sour brown base using malted barley and is then and spontaneously fermented with cherries inside of oak casks. The beer has been released four separate times, starting in 2006 it was part of what was called the Unplugged Series, then came out again in 2012 again part of the Unplugged Series. The third time it was released in 2012 they had changed the name of the series to Thumbprint. Finally, it was released for the fourth time this year, 2015 as a part of the Thumbprint Series again. If you’re wondering why they changed the name to Thumbprint instead of Unplugged, there was apparently another brewer in the area that began using the “Unplugged” name and Carey didn’t take too kindly to the idea of someone taking his name, so he opted to change the name to make it better and more fitting for his unique beers.

Enigma pours with very little carbonation; it has a deep red or mahogany hue, which has an orange tint in the light. There are small bubbles that are sporadically moving about around the edge of the glass and absolutely zero in the middle of the beer.

Enigma is an extremely fitting name for this beer, there is so much going on in the nose that I had to spend a few minutes taking in the aromas just to get a feel for everything going on in the beer. I am initially getting a metallic scent followed by wine tannins, a sort of Worcestershire or red wine vinegar smell. I then pick up aromas of clove and all spice, maybe slime cinnamon and it then finishes with some dank smelling grapefruit peel. Hands down one of the most unique noses on a beer I have come across.

The flavor has even more going on than in the nose, I can taste everything that I smelled, but there is even more additions on the palate. I am having to take small slow sips and really try and savor each one to taste all of the intricacies of the flavors that are happening. It has a maltier backbone than I would have imagined, particularly for a beer that is only 5.5 percent. Besides the grapefruit, malt and or red wine vinegar, clove, allspice and cinnamon, I am also getting notes of Granny Smith Apples, sour cherry pie and the faintest earthy/oaky flavor note.

New Glarus Enigma
BREWERY: New Glarus Brewing
LOCATION: New Glarus, Wis.
STYLE: Brown ale
ABV: 5.5 percent
IBU: 12
PRICE: $2.50
AVAILABLE IN: 12-ounce bottles
It is safe to say there is not another beer like this out there. I have never come across anything this complex and off the wall with so many flavors and smells happening in one glass. The beautiful part about Enigma is that no one thing dominates, I was able to pick out the various flavors and smells with relative ease compared to many brews where there are one or two very dominant traits in the beer and then a couple that play second fiddle. This beer was incredibly balanced and was truly a bouquet of things happening and somehow found a calm in the chaos of so many things going on. I commend New Glarus for daring to brew a beer this complex and would very much encourage anyone to try and get their hands on this beer, it is an experience to drink it.
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