New Glarus seems to be locally known more for their general line-up of beer, but the national acclaim tends to come from their fruit beers and rightly so. Their fruit beers (Raspberry Tart & Wisconsin Belgian Red) are two of the most authentic fruit beers you will find. Their authenticity does not allow them to become "candied" or an excessive sugary sweet. In any case, when New Glarus temporarily shifted gears to put out a seasonal that emphasized hops instead of fruits (Apple Ale, Cherry Stout, Cran-bic, etc), I definitely took notice. Today's review is for said hoppy beer, New Glarus' Hop Hearty IPA. I have possessed it for a while, but I don't believe long enough for the hops notes to wither away entirely, even if it is certainly not as it was when fresh. Let's pour!
This begins with some stronger straw notes with a little bit of must behind it. As the beer warms, the hops emerge more and more in an acidic citrus that is both cleansing and fresh, an odd (but not unwelcome) departure already from the previous aroma. Things continue to impress as an authentic "freshly ground grain" aroma grows strong and joins with the hops. When I say grain, I mean "exactly like those little dishes they pass around on brewery tours so that everyone can smell the grains." It's obviously not as intense, but the scent is as unmistakable as it is delicious. The clean hops and the fresh grain both give this beer an amazingly balanced and natural smell.
A nice, light tan head arises to an acceptable level, retains well, and slowly settles to cover the surface. The beer itself is quiet striking. It pours a bright copper with pumpkin shades within, but with a red tinge to the whole works. Very neat. For an IPA, however, the lacing is disappointing.
Things begin with a distant hop bitter, but quickly move into a brighter hop citrus melding with a caramel's sweetness. The hops make the caramel appear more sugary than it perhaps truly is, but the combination is truly balanced, even if it's not at all what one normally expects in an IPA. This is not remarkably complex, but it is ridiculously well done. The finish brings a bit more of the authentic grain into play and also leaves a light bitter that coats the mouth. The aftertaste is almost entirely clean and with only a hint of the grain left in the mouth, you'd swear the light bitter was from it and not hops. For an IPA, there is very little hop presence here, but they really make it work.
Nothing wrong here. In fact, this brew's body and carbonation only further contribute to this beer's incredibly refreshing nature. Its body is not so thick like other IPAs, nor its carbonation far and few between to help add to that illusion. On the contrary, its body (medium/medium-full) seems lighter than the flavors would have you believe and the carbonation is anything but sparse, yet diminuative so as not to disrupt the beer as a whole. Combine those two characteristics with the fresh citrus and natural grain and you've got yourself a most refreshing, natural feeling beer.
Overall Impression 10/10
This is a departure from a lot of IPAs on the market and, oddly, a seeming return to the roots of the style. It truly seems like a beefed up pale ale! There is a light, refreshing, nature to it from the citrus, carbonation, and strong grainy malts, but the hop presence is more than is required of a pale ale. If you're a regular reader, you know my descriptions can be pretty lengthy. Not for this beer. Each paragraph is short and succinct thanks to this beer's simple, well-brewed nature. What a great, refreshing beer!
Fresh, non-syrupy, and with great balance this IPA is one that is not going to feel like a chore to drink on a hot, summer day. The hops aren't even heavy-handed. They're presented wondrously in a balanced beer that is sure to please those looking for more than to be beaten over the head with a sack of hops (though that does sound like the best punishment ever). If this is still around (Note: I haven't been to Wisconsin in a while), go buy it. It's a great IPA that doesn't skimp on flavor to deliver a balanced, tasty, refreshing, true to style, bottle of goodness. While it's not quite the aroma powerhouse that some other New Glarus beers are, this just became one of my favorites from them regardless. I'll be looking for this again! Cheers!