The name is familiar and the style is familiar but this summer release from Wisconsin’s New Glarus Brewing is anything but, as you’ll read in this latest installment of Craft Beer to Cross the Border For.
It’s no secret. New Glarus Brewing Company is synonymous with Wisconsin craft beer. Any Wisconsonite worth their weight in fermented beverages has tipped many-a-Spotted Heifer and perhaps has even made the annual pilgrimage to the hilltop brewery. Which, by the way, if you haven’t indulged, it’s quite spectacular. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you crossed Willy Wonka’s factory with Strange Brew’s Elsinore Brewery?
So the old Wisconsin saying goes: When New Glarus Brewing Company owner/Diploma Master Brewer Dan Carey brews a cream ale, you drink it. When Dan Carey brews a bock, you drink it. When Dan Carey brews a Malort-barrel-aged prune juice stout…well you get the idea. So it goes without saying, when I stumbled across New Glarus Scream IIPA, I followed suit and quickly snatched a 4-pack up.
I have to say, as someone who closely follows New Glarus, I was taken by surprise with this one, as it was quietly pushed out into the market after the recent release of two other Thumbprint beers. But hey, I’m not complaining here!
As some of you may or may not have known, New Glarus released a double IPA last summer as part of the Thumbprint series. After doing some research, I’ve found that Scream IIPA is not that beer. Rather, it is a recipe written to support New Glarus’ new estate grown hops, in which a portion of the hops in Scream were grown on New Glarus’ front lawn.
Upon popping the cap on this one, my wife could immediately smell it from across the dinner table. Rightfully so, as this beer is off the charts with aromatics. On the front, I pick up a really intense, saccharine maraschino cherry aroma along with a bright candy quality, similar to the sensation of the smell of a mouthful of chewed skittles. If that isn’t dizzying enough, I also get wafts of musky tropical fruit; green mango, papaya and pineapple along with a sticky peach aroma, backed by a touch of spicy malt. Judging by the aroma, you’d expect this beer to be a sweet and sticky fruit bomb in your mouth. It is not!
On the front of the palate is a mellow, candied citrus quality which intermingles beautifully with waves of wildflowers. The use of Maris Otter malt is a welcome addition here, as it really contributes a beautiful toasty, spicy malt profile. The gushing juiciness is perfectly kept in check with a surprisingly dry backbone, making this beer dangerously gulpable for 9%. In the finish, the incredible aroma of this beer again punches through, giving you one final tropical kick in the pants.
In a world of one-dimensional hoppy beers, this is staggeringly complex. The aroma is intoxicating. The balance is zen-like. The drinkability is unparalleled. If there is a beer worth crossing the border for this summer, this is that beer.