Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Glarus Brewing Co. - Fat Squirrel

In the interest of full disclosure, Fat Squirrel has long been one of my favorite beers.  Perhaps, it is its limited availability or a reminder of trips home, but when all is said and done I have enjoyed this beer a great deal over the years.  That in mind, it is only appropriate that it is the first beer that I will be reviewing with only the best intentions of removing my bias.

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.

Aroma 8/12
While the aroma is not exactly rich, it is certainly present after pouring the beer.  It is strikingly sweet with toasty hints foreshadow the malts to come.

Appearance 2/3
The appearance (as shown) is clear with a light copper coloring.  The ivory-colored head small, crisp (not creamy) in nature and effervesces away quickly leaving no lace.  The color is where points begin to be deducted.  While Fat Squirrel never claims to be a "nut brown ale" (as is popular with the season), it certainly follows that style a great deal.  It only claims to be an ale (not even an red or amber ale!).  Given that most ales of this style are darker a point has suffered.  It shows an EBC color rating of 36 (shown below).

Picture is my own

Flavor 16/20:
Again varying from the style has sacrificed a few points.  Without the "brown," of the "brown ale," the result is sweeter than expected.  In fact, the first flavor noticed is a round, nutty sweetness of the grains and hazelnut.  This gives way to a lightly hoppy, bitter finish and leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste.  Several moments after drinking, the toastiness returns and hangs in the mouth to join the bitters.  Not especially balanced, given the different "waves" of flavors, but I rather enjoy it that way - when one sensation hits you, then another, then another.  You're waiting to see what comes next and that can be an enjoyable experience.  In the end, it is a bit light and sweet for the style.

Mouthfeel 4/5:
Medium body - not especially creamy or watery.  Average warmth for style.

Overall Impression 8/10:
While suffering in the stylistic accuracy to a beer it does not claim to be, this beer is still delicious!  While I might like to see a slightly more roasted malt, that may make it a bit too heavy (like several others in this style) and limit its drinkability.  As it stands I could drink several Fat Squirrels in a row and be quite content.  In fact, I have done so on several occasions.

Total 38 (Excellent)
This brew "exemplifies the style, but requires minor tuning."  Something a bit darker, but not as dark as New Glarus' seasonal "Back 40 Bock," would round the sweetness nicely and make it more appropriate to the style.  All this talk makes me want another (or two)!

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