As per my Canadian experience documented yesterday, profligate tasting opportunities made selection of an American brewery of the year a task that was, to say the least, daunting. I sampled more great beer in 2012 from a larger range of breweries in the United States than I have in any year past, and choosing one to highlight above the others was not a task I relished.
Still, choices must be made, and when I thought back on all the beers I tasted over the past twelve months, I realized that no brewery provided quite as many “wow” moments as did the Wisconsin stalwart, New Glarus Brewing.
A look through my notes reveals the tale to be told: marzipan-esque Enigma, part of the “Thumbprint” series of beers we can only hope to see return; gorgeous, complexly fruity Serendipity, a lovely brew crafted as a place-holder for the Wisconsin Belgian Red when the local cherry crop failed; unorthodox Dancing Man Wheat, strong at over 7% alcohol with barbecued banana notes and white peppery spice; cherry pie-esque Cherry Stout, another “Thumbprint” beer; restrained Snowshoe; Kentish-American Hop Hearty; the list goes on and on.
Of course, the rap against New Glarus is Spotted Cow, the ubiquitous Dairy State beer some deride as overly simplistic and dull. But if its success is what allows Deborah and Dan Carey to produce such a remarkable line-up of fringe, occasional and one-off brands, then I say “Let it flow!”
The sole negative, as I see it, is that you can only buy New Glarus beers in Wisconsin, which is tough on the rest of us, but a sign of the Careys commitment to their motto: Drink Indigenous.
For great beer and tremendous growth in their home market, New Glarus Brewing is my choice as U.S. Brewery of the Year for 2012.
Wednesday: 2012′s Latin American Brewery of the Year!