Two years ago we traveled Jennie's native Wisconsin to visit her family. Her family lives in Chippewa County, about a twenty minute drive from the Leinenkugel's Brewery in Chippewa Falls. During our week in Wisconsin we did as much sight-seeing as we could. We visited the Leinie Lodge and toured the historic Leinenkugel's brewery, we drove across the state to Green Bay to take a tour of Lambeau Field. On another day we drove even farther to the tiny town of New Glarus to stop by the New Glarus brewery.
According the the Brewers Assoication latest Top 50 ranking of craft brewery sales, New Glarus is the 20th largest craft brewery in America. New Glarus ranked ahead of brewers like Abita, Anchor, Victory, Long Trail, Shipyard, Rogue, Left Hand, and Allagash. What makes this astounding is that New Glarus only distributes in the state of Wisconsin. The slogan on the main page of their website is literally "Only in Wisconsin"
Last year a bar in neighboring Minnesota bought several kegs of New Glarus' venerable Spotted Cow in Wisconsin, put it on tap at the bar, was caught doing so, and the owners are facing criminal charges.
The drive from Jennie's parents house to the brewery was around three hours. The massive and immaculate brewery is on top of a large hill. The town of New Glarus is named after the Swiss village of Glarus. Both the town and the brewery have a distinctive Alpine character. The brewery looks like a giant cuckoo clock.
We enjoyed a sample flight, went on the self-guided tour, and bought a ton of beer to take home. I carefully loaded 18 bottles into my checked bag. It felt like it was full of bricks. All of the beer made it home safely, and there was a nice note from the TSA that my back had been "randomly" checked.
Out of all of New Glarus' beers, my favorite might be Wisconsin Belgian Red. It is a crisp, super drinkable cherry beer that perfectly straddles the line between a cherry beer and a cherry wine. When I told Jennie I was going to brew Broken Fist IPA for my cousin Adam, she correctly pointed out that I would also need to brew a beer for Adam's wife Kristen. I know Kristen enjoys ciders and fruit beers. This is the perfect opportunity to brew a clone of Wisconsin Belgian Red.
Unlike BrewDog and Stone, New Glarus is notorious for carefully guarding their recipes, ingredients, and brewing processes. Co-owner Daniel Carey has in the past said he did not want to disclose any "trade secrets". The brewery's guarded nature, and stubbornness in only distributing in Wisconsin, has only enhanced their mystique.
Luckily for me Amahi Turczyn Scheppach published a clone recipe in the July/August 2007 issue of Zymurgy. Using the volume of cherries New Glarus uses in the commercial version would be quite expensive. Scheppach added cherry juice to his beer to avoid having to clean and pit ten pounds of fresh cherries. He played around with the ratio of cherry juice and beer to get a pronounced cherry flavor, aroma, and color, without spending a small fortune on cherry juice.
I brewed the beer the same day as Broken Fist IPA. To save time I brewed an extract batch. With all of the cherry juice that is going to be added, the beer would have been dark even if I brewed it with all-grain. I steeped my specialty grain for this beer, started mashing Broken Fist as the Belgian Red was starting to boil. I dumped my concentrated wort into the fermenter just in time to transfer Broken Fist into my boil kettle.
I chose a dry yeast, Safbrew T-58. I haven't any witbiers since last spring, or other Belgian styles since the previous summer. I didn't make time to build up any yeast from my yeast bank. I'm also interested to try the dry yeast and see what kind of yeast-derived flavors I get. The wort was fermenting within several hours. Dry yeasts can lag up to two days, so I'm impressed already. The quicker a beer starts fermenting, the better.
If I serve this on Memorial Day, I won't have time to lager the beer on oak like New Glarus. This beer was so easy to brew, I could easily make it again and age it on the oak. I did make a five gallon batch. I'm kegging three gallons for Memorial Day and saving two gallons for us.
To view the recipe in the July/August 2007 issue of Zymurgy, join the American Homebrewers Association for a free subscription to the magazine and online access to the Zymurgy archives going back to 2000.
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