Dear Beer gods,

It has been a truly wonderful and blessed beer life. You hath been most generous in bestowing on me rare glimpses of the great mysteries of your centuries-old craft.  The Radler of Bavaria, the yeasty  wheat brews of wherever–somewhere in Germany, the Pilsner of the Czech Republic, the smoked beer of Bamberg, the tart Berliner Weisse, the fruit beers of Belgium, and scores and scores of great Lagers, Pilners, Stouts, Porters, Bocks, Ales–these are the monuments at your feet.

Allow me to be the light to your winter

Last year, I thought I met the paragon of brewing:  The New Glarus Crambic.  Based on the great fruit brews by Lambic, the Crambic used Wisconsin cranberries and was made as a limited edition “art beer” by Daniel Carey, the master brewer at the New Glarus Brewing Company.  So tart, rich, sweet, tangy and creamy–it was the perfect compliment to the heavy, holiday food of the fall.  Perhaps the perfect beer.  The treasure of the season.  One that I was unsure if I would ever see its equal when it forever disappeared off the shelves.

Then I met the New Glarus Enigma.  Another art brew by Daniel Carey.  This beer takes all of the great things of last year’s Crambic (the rich sweet-sour fruitiness,  creaminess) with a shadow of what I think is a barley flavor (something more traditionally beer-like–a deep sourness).  The result is a beer that actually causes different positive reactions on different parts of the tongue.  My tongue isn’t very gifted when it comes to this–but it was obvious.  This was a pleasant and amusing surprise.

Fruit beers are a favorite, guilty pleasure of mine, but they can be so gross if done poorly (I’ve had them taste like cool-aide with a shot of beer, or the opposite–a regular beer that tastes like someone simply poured in a pack of Crystal Lite.) But New Glarus has really masted the art of a well-balanced, complex fruit beer that doesn’t taste anything like a gimmick.

Here’s how New Glarus describes the Enigma:

A complex and intriguing original. The mystery began with wild yeast spontaneously fermenting a rich treasure of malted barley and cheeries. Unlined Oak casks breathe deep vanilla hues and chords of smoke into this sour brown ale. Our Master Brewer has forged a smooth garnet tapestry that defies description. Wander off the beaten path.

In  other words, I will be stocking up on these like a little squirrel with nuts in my cheeks–I want these to last through the long northern winter or until New Glarus decides to bring back the Crambic.

Long live the beer gods!

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