Strawberry Rhubarb (New Glarus Brewing Company)
Style: Wisconsin Wild Fruit Ale/Strawberry and Rhubarb Fruit Ale
From: New Glarus, WI
Brewery’s Note: “Teased from the loam by the kiss of the Sun. Mom’s Strawberry Rhubarb delights are the happy memories of childhood. Diploma Master Brewer Dan employed juicy sweet Strawberries to tame the barbaric wild tart fermentation of rhubarb. Escaped from the far corners of neighboring yards, local rhubarb was incorporated into the wild sour fermentation to create this drinkable dream. Bright sour and effervescent.”
This mid-country gem pours a turbid, muddy amber/brown. It’s a little ugly, honestly, but in a homely, natural way that carries its own beauty…? The beer forms a creamy, finger-width cap of yellowing bubbles, which last nicely and leaves fat, sluggish strands of lacing that puff out into the glass. I take it back, the beer is not ugly, but it’s just muddy, murky, and rustic. In body, like I have already said, it’s a muddy murk of complete opacity and I think I see small particulates floating around inside. On the nose is where New Glarus mastery of fruit shines. I’m talking thick, jammy strawberry, just after it’s been mashed up, boiled, and had the pectin added in. Yet there’s also some caramelized notes in the nose, and the earthy twang of rhubarb is fat at the end of the sniff, properly alluding to the beer’s name. It smells like a rhubarb pie, but not in the “this beer smells like a rhubarb pie” sense. This beer actually smells like a fresh rhubarb pie after it’s been cooled down and left to sit for a day in the fridge (leftover rhubarb pie is dope). There is a slight touch of breadiness, which is the only thing that slightly off with the pie-scent, and it vaguely touches sweet cinnamon notes, but keeps itself subtle and nuanced. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet and jammy, with a mild tartness that is vegetal and citric. The finish moves towards a lighter, malty sweetness before everything falls off the back of the palate and you’re left with a lingering jammy sweetness on the tip of the tongue. In flavor, this tastes like a rhubarb pie, but it’s more so like a beer-that-tastes-like-a-rhubarb-pie than the nose was. The tartness is nice and complex at the start of the sip, giving great vegetal rhubarb accents, which briefly touches on the cinnamon-like note that I sensed in the smell. The finish of the beer falls more so in the fruit beer spectrum of sweet, sticky berries and a touch of syrup. My bottle was a little aged, and I definitely can sense subtle oxidation on the edges bringing sherry/cardboard notes that are mostly drowned out by the decadent berry character, but not quite. In the mouth, the beer is medium bodied, but with a definite weight added from the fruit sugars, and a lovely grittiness that comes when you add actual fruit to a beer. The carb is effervescent and fizzles nicely on the tongue, keeping most of the sticky sweetness of the beer at bay, though it definitely builds as you continue to sip. The finish is my biggest complaint, as the beer just seems to drop off the palate without a final burst of fireworks, but I suspect that the age of the beer is negatively impacting that. Overall, this is a damn fine fruit beer. Probably the best I’ve had, but most of you probably already knew that New Glarus made the best fruit beer around, and I’m saying that more for my sake than yours. I was gifted the bottle by a generous gentleman that I would like to tip my hat to. I would encourage those with bottles of this to drink it fresh, and to savor its fruity majesty. It’s jammy in the best way, and smells exactly like its name sake. Good stuff.