First released in 2001, the New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red is one of New Glarus’ most popular beers, and is brewed with one pound of whole Montmorency cherries, wheat, Hallertau hops and Belgian barley before being lagered in oak tanks for close to a year. According to the brewery, the 4 percent ABV fruit beer uses an equivalent of over 1 pound of cherries is used in every 750ml bottle, and is available year-round in around the state of Wisconsin.
I covered the history of the New Glarus, Wis.-brewery earlier this year in my review of the Serendipity:
In 1993, Deborah Carey 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.
The brewery is fanatical about keeping everything they do local. Its bottle crowns read, “DRINK INDIGENOUS” and the Carey’s have refused to distribute New Glarus beyond the border of their home state of Wisconsin despite the intense demand.
The New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red pours a deep hazy red, almost purple in the light, with a nice inch of pinkish colored head that takes about five minutes to dissipate, leaving a thick lacing. Aroma from the glass is almost shockingly dominated by ripe cherries, granny smith apples, oak and sweet earth. There is some carbonation visible in the glass, but it is not very obvious at all.
The first sip of the Wisconsin Belgian Red brings vibrant and juicy flavors of tart cherries, citrus, spicy oak, leather. There is a nice tartness that cuts the sweetness nicely, and while the carbonation level is low, if it was any higher it would detract from the overall profile and if there was an less, the beer would be too syrupy. The finish is sweet, but not overly so, and a little sour at the same time, reminding me strongly of Sour Patch Kids in that regard. I also taste a bit of a bitter grassy note on the finish every once in a while, almost like the beer was brewed with stems and skin, but it is not strong enough to really cut through the rest of the flavors.
As it warms, the sweetness dominates the profile even more, and the carbonation level is reduced even further. The creamy oak note also becomes quite a bit more pronounced, but the spiciness has dissipated to almost nothing.