The beers New Glarus brews also demonstrate their creativity. Their brewing philosophy is simple and represents the values and enthusiasm of the community.
“Our idea is to make world class beer for or friends in Wisconsin,” says Deborah. “Everyone at the brewery gives 110%. We stay focused and work hard using the very best ingredients. Our brewery is immaculate clean and we are very serious about our beer.
The top selling beer for New Glarus is the Spotted Cow, a farmhouse style ale brewed with a little corn to sweeten it and named for the many cows that a visitor to Wisconsin might take note of.
The Moon Man is another popular beer. Named for a popular pet cat of one of the brewers, Moon Man is a ‘No Coast’ Pale Ale. “We struggled with the idea of a West coast IPA,” said Deborah. “I’m not a fan of cascade hops. They are fairly cheap to brew with and a lot of brewers use them to cover up other flavors or mistakes. We wanted this beer to be an approachable, every man’s session style pale ale, not offensive. Moon Man is that beer.”
The Seasonal and ‘Unplugged’ series have also been very popular and varied in styles. As the name implies, the Seasonal line includes brews ideal for the season of their release like the Coffee Stout for Winter and the Dancing Man Wheat for summer.
Dancing Man was originally called Solstice because of the Carey’s love for the outdoors and the changing seasons. However, the name Solstice was taken so they needed a different name for theirs. When they began the brewery they had a shirt that everyone referred to as the “Dancing Man shirt” and according to Deb, “instead of being angry about losing the name we originally wanted, we decided to be happy about the beer and Dancing Man is happy. ”
The Unplugged Series are beers that Dan brews as he is inspired. The inspiration comes in a variety of ways. “I think it’s generally things that he’s eating or drinking at the time,” says Deb. “We took a trip to Italy with our daughter and we had a lot of lighter wines with our meals. He thought he could make a beer with a similar flavor, which became our Berliner Weiss.
Dan also enjoyed some smoked beers in Bomberg, Germany and was inspired to brew a rauchbier with smoked rye malt, which will be released soon.
Possibly the most popular beers that New Glarus is brewing right now are their fruit beers, especially with the growth in popularity for fruit beers in recent years.
Dan’s interest in brewing fruit beers began during his apprenticeship with Ayinger Brewery, just south of Munich. “We loved the terroir of the breweries there and especially the Geuze,” says Deb.
Dan’s first attempt at a fruit beer eventually became the Wisconsin Belgian Red. “He started experimenting with a cherry beer, figuring out open fermentation and barrel aging,” says Deb. “Dan is very gifted and we discuss the beers and he can picture them in his mind. He doesn’t make many test batches. He just brews it. So he figured this beer out. We wanted to pay homage to Belgium but also wanted people to know it was from Wisconsin.”
The Wisconsin part of the Red is found in the full pound of Door County, Wisconsin cherries for every bottle that according to the Carey’s is “so unique that (they) have applied for a patent.” It was one of their first beers to win an award and has been a regular winner since it’s first GABF gold medal in 1996 to being named one of the Best Beers in America by Zymurgy magazine in 2010.
The Raspberry Tart is also popular among beer lovers and boasts it’s own long list of awards including seven GABF medals. The naming of it was also very close to home. “There’s a bakery in our town that makes tarts and this beer just reminded me of those tarts.”
Sports wise the Careys are faithful Wisconsin fans. We are very close to Madison and we are big Badger fans. We are also very big Packers fans. They are the peoples’ team.”
As the top selling craft beer in the state, it is very likely that many Wisconsin residents would call New Glarus “the people’s beer”, especially with their motto “Drink Indigenous.”
Their popularity in Wisconsin even led one group to approach them about a reality TV show but they declined. “I don’t even watch reality TV,” says Deb. “It seems like they are always trying to create some kind of drama.”
They did happen to catch the first episode of Master Chef last year and as fans of Beer Cheese Soup, they were disappointed the judges didn’t go for it.
“Beer Cheese Soup is very popular in Wisconsin,” said Deb. “We have at least three restaurants that have it on the menu.”
Food and family are as much a part of their lives as beer is and often, even outside of work at the brewery, the three intertwine.
“I always made a point of making dinner and having dinner with the family so I get to catch up with them and learn about their days. And it’s a quiet time for the family.” As for her skills in the kitchen, “we were really broke when we were young,” she laughs. “I learned to make a dish out of anything.”
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in that respect. Their daughter is also a good cook who works for a local chef and often comes home and makes delicious dinners for the family.
And even with the family meals, beer is never far away. “We have a small beer fridge in the kitchen and we choose a beer pairing based on whatever I’m making.”
In truth, with the town, the brewery and the Carey’s daily life, there is much here that looks like a Rockwell painting. In a fast paced world, especially in the big business of beer, it’s refreshing to see that one of America’s most popular breweries has a firm grip on the important things in life.
Norman would be proud.