Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Glarus - Laughing Fox

End of the line!  Last stop on my New Glarus journey!  Well, at least for a little while until I start breaking out all the Thanksgiving-esque beers (*ahemCran-bic*cough*).  I think the bottle does a fantastic job at explaining this beer's namesake, and so I'll reprint it here.

"In playful pursuit of butterflies a Red Fox danced across the brewery hill.  His joy so pure it bubbled through our hearts and into this beer.  Laughing Fox is a sparkling Kristal Weizen brewed in the Bavarian tradition with 50% Wisconsin wheat in our open top fermenters.  Tickle your nose (sic) notes of spicy close and cinnamon abound.  Dan's inspired Weizen interpretation reflects the deep bittersweet color of our Fox's red coat."

Frankly, that sort of imagery and simple appreciation of wildlife is why I moved back to the midwest.  It's the kind of scene that makes you take a deep breath and smile.  The description is almost straight out of "Dances with Wolves," but it's better because there's a distinct lack of Kevin Costner and noticeably more references to beer.  Agreed?  Good.  Let's pour!

Botte art image user without permission for educational purposes only.

Aroma 12/12
Aroma is always one of Dan Carey's strong suits and this beer is no exception by a long shot!  Straight into the tulip glass, this beer is an absolute powerhouse of banana-y Belgian yeast and cloves.  It is so strong at times that it almost smells candied.  The cinnamon is definitely riding in the back seat on this one, but does round things out a bit more as the beer warms.

Appearance 3/3
True to its "Kristal Weizen" form, this beer has as high a clarity as is possible in a beer this color.  It is a bright copper color, with tones of dark honey and amber.  The head is lasting, tall, and proud with soapy sides and a whipped, fluffy top.  Top marks!

Again, sorry for the pink hue.  Even after setting the white balance,
my phone insists on tinting everything.
Flavor 19/20
Initial sips are also true to the Kristal origins with a light malt that almost tastes like cream.  Roasted malt is present, but not the showcased flavor.  That honor belongs to a bright, slightly tart/sour citrus flavor that floats high above the earthier malts, balanced spices, and a subtle vanilla sweetness.  The finish leaves little of the citrus backbone and focuses more on a woody, earthy note.  It is fairly drying and has a light bitter.  This beer tastes almost nothing like it smells.  In this case, it is a good thing because as it stands it is very style appropriate and the the bolder, sweet flavors of the aroma would have no place in the style.  They certainly have their place (a very delicious place), but it is not here.  Lots of restraint used and it is not misplaced.

Mouthfeel 3/5
This beer feels a little heavier than it should, but it can be largely attributed to the large quantities of Kristal (and Pils?) malts present.  Carbonation is crisp, but not prickly.  It fills the mouth nicely (thank you wheat), but eventually finishes with a wetter more "fizzy" feel.  The carbonation is lasting to the end.

Overall Impression 8/10
This is a superbly crafted beer.  The smell is outrageous, the look is desirable, and the flavor is spot-on stylistically.  Even though this beer is exactly what it is supposed to be, I do confess a small bit of disappointment that the flavor didn't borrow more from the aroma.  I know!  I know!  It's not supposed to!  But with a smell like that, and a flavor that's appropriately sour/tart it can be a bit of a let down.  Frankly, that's not much of a criticism at all.  Did I mention that this beer smells good?  It does.

Total 46/50
It can be hard to get excited about a beer that does not wallop us with some new or bold exciting flavor.  Is that the beer's fault?  No.  Does that make this a bad beer?  I believe the score states otherwise.  Is this beer solid?  Absolutely.  Does this beer show craft beer drinkers a variety on a popular style?  A style that they might not have seen outside a bottle of Weihenstephaner or Tucher?  You better believe it.  It's also a quality version of the style that remains remarkably drinkable.  Some people might be disappointed that they're not getting their "witbier" experience after experiencing the aroma, but this beer needs no apologies for not pretending to be something it's not.

I'm pretty sure this makes my Indian name "Drinks with Foxes."
Wait, the wife might not like that one...

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