In 1993, Deborah Carey1 gave her husband about the best gift anyone reading this site could imagine. No, she did not give him the perfect beer glass. Instead, she gave Dan Carey, a former production supervisor for Anheuser-Busch, his own brewery: New Glarus Brewery.2
The brewery is fanatical about keeping everything they do local. Its bottle crowns read, “DRINK INDIGENOUS” and the Careys have refused to distribute New Glarus beyond the border of their home state of Wisconsin despite the intense demand.
Serendipity is sold in 750-ml bottles with waxed caps,3 and is now one of the company’s year-round offerings, although it was a “happy accident” four percent ABV fruit beer made with a combination of cherries, apples and cranberries after a severe drought decimated Wisconsin’s cherry harvest.4 The blend was originally meant to just be stopgap release between other beers, but turned out so well it became one of the brewery’s best sellers.
The Serendipity pours an extremely hazy amber with a red tint along with just the slightest hint of a milk-white head that dissipates quite quickly leaving a small lacing behind. Aroma on the nose is a combination of juicy cranberries, sweet apple cider, lemons and tiny amount of ginger.
The first sip of the Serendipity brings an explosion of dichotomies: sweet on the tongue followed immediately by tartness on the palate, flavors of apple cider, tart cranberries, slight sweet cherries, lime and honey. The apple cider flavor is one of the most distinct out of all of the flavors in the beer, and not something I have run across very often.5
The combination of fruit flavors in this beer can only be described with one word—intense. At times sweet and at times tart, but it never crosses into a distinct sour category for me. The carbonation is just right: enough to give it a great mouthfeel, but not overdone so that it takes away from the fruit characteristics. The first thing I think of when I drink this beer is Sour Patch Kids, due to the burst of sweetness on the tongue followed by the tart sourness on the finish.
As it warms, the dominant flavors in the Serendipity shift places and a distinct tart cherry note takes the place of the apple cider with the cranberries still around in the background and on the finish. Interestingly, the carbonation has not seemed to diminish much at all and continues to help the profile quite a bit. At four percent ABV, it is quite drinkable, and I never really noticed the alcohol.