Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Glarus - Unplugged Imperial Weizen

This beer already has a lot going for it and I have not even opened the bottle yet.  First, it is made by New Glarus Brewing company, a brewer that not only makes phenomenal beer, but is also enjoying an extremely high level of success.  Every time I hear about them in the news it seems that there are enjoying some new (deserved) accolade.  Second, it is a hefe.  Hefes are one of my favorite types of beer because they are one of two styles that started me drinking beer AT ALL, not just craft beer.  Needless to say, we go back a little ways and I always enjoy a pilgrimage to see this old friend.  Third, it is an Imperial.  Imperials are becoming a bit of a personal favorite as of late.  Their abundance of bold flavors combined with a high alcohol content make this style right up my alley.  Enough blabbering.  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
 Aroma 12/12
A knockout punch!  It is debatable if one could add anything to improve the aroma of this beer.  An onslaught of banana esters, alcohol, biscuity malt, and appropriate spices.  In fact, a drinker could swear they had just put their nose into a bananas foster.  The banana appears to be paired with a spiced rum.  However, when broken down into the components of a strong warmth and spices (brown sugar, clove) it is easy to see how one could get that impression.  Do I detect some apricot as well?

Appearance 3/3
This brew pours a sediment laden yellowish-ochre with bright golden hues at the glass' edges.  Even a gentle pour produces an enormous ivory head which ascends as a meringue pillar in the glass.  Eventually the head turns to a soap sud texture and leaves copious lacing.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 19/20
Unreal.  It is everything a hefe should be.  The initial flavors are malty, banana, vanilla, and light touches of citrus.  This beer wastes no time and dives into a backbone full of more banana and brown sugary sweetness(!).  If held in the mouth the sweetness becomes dominant bit eventually a citrus hoppy flavor (grapefruit) to show itself.  The beer finishes in a slick banana warmth that finally begins to reveal the true hop bitter in this beer.  Hop bitter in a hefe?  You better believe it.  It only gets stronger in the aftertaste and encourages you to take that next sweet sip.  Amazing flavor!

Mouthfeel 5/5
Medium body with a high level of creaminess; both of which are excellent compliments to the flavor.  High level of warmth detectable especially during the finish, but less noticeable in the backbone.  Everything is to style and nothing is distracting.

Overall Impression 10/10
As just said in the last sentence, "everthing is to style."  Though I have never had an Imperial Weizen before it takes the absolute best from each and offers it in 12oz bottles.  Strong flavors from all the best parts of the hefe, yet the strong alcohol and bitter of an imperial make this brew unforgivable to miss if given the opportunity.

Total  49/50 (Outstanding)
This is currently my highest rated beer to date.  The only thing keeping it from being perfect was the detectable warmth levels.  The best imperials will hide it perfectly.  Granted, this beer did not have the dark roasted malt to work with that an imperial stout would, so it still retains high marks.  Some of you may be saying I went into this review a bit biased what with my intro paragraph and all which could easily be entitled, "Three Reasons to Love This Beer Before Even Trying It."  However, there have already been several blogs of various brewers which have left me disappointed despite my high hopes and I have not be afraid to "call it as I see it."  It is the double-edges sword of high expectations.  They can reconfirm your experience or leave you dissatisfied.

This beer somehow manages to showcase its strong, amazing flavors without trying to knock you down with them or becoming a one-trick pony.  It excellently exhibits everything that the style demands and adds nuances that improve it further still!  This not only goes down as the best hefe I've ever tasted, but also as one of my new top beers of all time.  Dan Carey can hang his hat high on this one.  Kudos again to New Glarus!  I only hope I can travel up to Wisconsin again before these bottles are off the shelves.

P.S.  Psst!  Dan & Deb... May I strongly suggest putting this out year round, even if at a premium?  Heck, if you decide to grow the brewery larger than just WI (yes, I know you're already bigger than you want to be), may I suggest that THIS be the flagship that you send to new shores.  The nation will not be disappointed.


  1. He it is Wes, I am reviewing this right now and WOW!

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