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Monday, October 21, 2013

New Glarus Brewing Co's Serendipity

  • Style: Fruit beer
  • ABV: 4.00% 
  • Season: Once sporadic, NG has put it into regular rotation so you can pretty much find this beer on shelves almost year round.  In Wisconsin, that is.
  • Ease of locate: The good news?  NG makes plenty of this popular beer now so you don't have to elbow the hockey mom next to you in line for a bottle.  The bad news?  You have to get in line in Wisconsin.  
  • Color: Juicy crimson liquid with amber and brown tones.  Slightly hazy, like fresh pressed fruit
  • Head:  One finger's worth of slightly off white foam that settles very quickly to a ring around the snifter.  Low, spotty lacing
  • Aroma: Heaven.  If heaven is filled with the scents of tart cranberries, sweet cherries & cidery green apples. 
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body with a bit of slick syrup, but just enough carbonation to keep it on the lighter side
  • Finish: Medium and smooth
  • Food friendly: Yes.  Keep it light and fresh.  Simple poultry and pork dishes work well, but dinner salads with fruit that echo the beer's notes (such as cranberries or apples) would be delicious.  Tomato based appetizers are balanced out by the ale's jammy qualities.  Serve it with a mild cheese, such as brie.

Two weeks ago Colorado hosted the annual rabid beer geek convention, otherwise known as the Great American Beer Fest (GABF).  I've never been, but I imagine it to be a weekend filled with craft enthusiasts linking arms with heroic brewers while slurring singing the the beer equivalent to Kumbaya.  In my (admittedly warped) head, there are highly competitive beard growing contests, panel discussions such as "The New Frontier: IBUs Pushing the Boundaries Beyond what Nature and God Approves" and workshops on how to actually pronounce "Reinheitsgebot" .

Apple users link:   This is pretty much how I picture GABF 

                                                                                 This accurately depicts GABF.  Only slightly more coherent.

GABF does give out medals.  And since we, as a country, have consented to raise a generation of participation medal hording adults still proud of the "everybody wins" trophy from their 1st grade spelling bee, we all know that medals are very, very important.   If a beer takes a medal, it MUST be good, right?  I mean, take for example the winner list from Wisconsin : Miller?  Leinehkugel?  How can these awards not be the perfect barometer of what is right and good in the craft beer world????  (I know.  Excuse me, Marie.  Your beer snob is showing.)  Think of it as the equivalent of Jeff Daniels winning the Emmy last month over Bryan Cranston.  The Newsroom is a fine show and it's slight enough in content so as not to leave you with a nasty hangover the next day, but it ain't no Peruvian Morning Breaking Bad.  Actually, many breweries were shut out this year of even entering their beers in the competition (rumors of on-line problem made it seem like the brewery equivalent of the Ombacare website.)  So what I'm saying is that one needs to take all winner lists like these with a grain of caramel malt.  But please don't tell New Glarus Brewing that I said this.  Because they rounded out the Wisconsin winners list with a Gold for their Blackberry Sour and a silver for the amazing fruit beer, Serendipity.  And god knows that I don't want to risk getting my New Glarus stash confiscated at the border on the grounds of being a smart ass.
I defy you to look at this and not be thirsty.   It's like Jamba Juice, only better.  Because it's beer, people.

My Serendipity poured a slightly hazy, crimson liquid.  Brown and amber tones ran through the beer, giving it depth and a sense of juiciness.  It reminded me of fresh pressed fruit juice.  One finger's worth of just off white foam formed on the pour, but settled extremely quickly.  The head dissipated into a shallow ring around the snifter, leaving just a small amount of delicately spotty lacing.  The aroma, in one word, was glorious. Tart, mouth watering cranberries mingled with the sweetness of the ripe cherries.  A solid backbone of cider bitten green apples helped to round out the fruit ale.  This was the sort of beer that makes you want to linger, taking the time to sniff the gorgeous aroma and enjoy the beauty of the appearance.  But, since beers are meant for drinking and my neighbors sometimes wonder about me smelling my drinks all the time, it does behoove me to remember to take a sip now and then.  The taste was basically the aroma, only ramped up to eleven.  A jammy, yet not very sweet, balance of the cranberries, cherries and sour apples practically exploded on my tongue.  There was a note of caramel malt sweetness laying just under the juiciness.  As the beer opened up, I could taste very minimal characters of floral and earthy hops.  The mouthfeel was moderate.  There was a slickness of syrup tempered by a good amount of carbonation which kept the drink from becoming too heavy.  The finish was medium and smooth, but otherwise it was the lest remarkable quality of the beer.
It's like a rorschach test for craft drinkers.  What's in your glass?

An exceptional fruit beer such as Serendipity is excellent when simply drunk on it's own.  I'm keeping a supply of various New Glarus fruit beers to take with me to my family's Thanksgiving gathering this year.  A glass of Belgium Red, Raspberry Tart or, of course, Serendipity will make an excellent pre-dinner drink (even the sister-in-law who hates beer, likes New Glarus' fruit beers.  Miricles do occur.). You can try serving it with a meal that echos the fruity aspect of the beer, such as Cranberry-stuffed Cornish Game Hens.  Or pair this beer with tomato based appetizers, letting the jamminess of the fruit counter the acidity of the tomato (try these Tomato Quiche Tartlets.  Very simple to make, but since it has the word "quiche" in it, everyone thinks you slaved all day.  I won't tell if you don't.)  Of course, if you you looked at the GABF winner's list, you might come to believe that Millers, Leinehkugel and New Glarus were the only three breweries in the great state of Wisconsin (I personally got distracted by something foamy and stopped counting at 66.)  Medals are nice and they make great selling points when printed on the side of a six pack.  But personally, I'll make up my own mind when it comes to deciding what bottle earns a spot in my dark basement shelf  beer cellar.  And beleive me, there is always a space open for a bottle from New Glarus.