Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Absense makes the heart grow thirsty

It's like your college buddy who you only see once in awhile, who you feel like you should enjoy spending time with, and then when you do, it's really nothing special. Or that out-of-town restaurant that you have to go to because, well, you can't go there in your home town. So it is with Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewing. I know some of my Wisconsin friends are cursing my name right now, but I have to ask: What's the big deal?

I had two of 'em at a Memorial Day Party last night, and frankly there are many beers which rise above the Cow. Not that it's horrible--hardly--but it's hardly special. It's a good summer beer I suppose--light, clean, refreshing--but not something I would drive to Hudson solely for.

[For those non-Minnesotans out there, New Glarus is one of many fine beers which doesn't make it to Minnesota. Apparently, some of our liquor taxes discourage small breweries from coming to our state. So if you live in Minnesota and want to drink New Glarus, you need to drive to Hudson, the first Wisconsin town across the river from us.]

This is not to knock all New Glarus beers. They offer eight brews regularly, with a couple seasonal ones. Their Hop Hearty Ale is a fine IPA, and I had their Fat Squirrel last night as well which is a pleasant, very drinkable brown. But the Spotted Cow has many people raving, and I found it just kinda ok. Maybe I'd pick up a 6-pack on the way to the cabin, but there are certainly other beers--like Three Floyds--which I'd prefer would make it across state lines.

Similarly, Fat Tire from New Belguim Brewery is another beer which isn't available in Minnesota, and which I think is overrated and is appealing in part because you can't get it here. The rest of New Belgium's line up is amazing, and I would love to see their Trippel or Sunshine on the shelves here.

So if you're passing through Wisconsin on the way to my house, feel free to buy me a 6 pack of New Glarus or some other unique beer. I'll smile if it's Spotted Cow, but I'll know you really care if it's one of their Unplugged brews.

Cheers!

4 comments:

Erin said...

Eric, what are the chances? Jeremy and I just came back from Green Bay yesterday and, even though we were running late, we *made sure* to stop and get three six packs of New Glarus before we left! Two Spotted Cow and one Fat Squirrel. I'm a Squirrel fan myself, but even better is the Summer Solstice (the particular crappy liquor store we stopped at didn't have it though...) Since I think Cow is also great, I just wanted to write and defend the honor of my home state's awesome little brewery and say it's worth stopping to bring some back whenever one is in WI!

Chaz said...

It's like your college buddy who you only see once in awhile, who you feel like you should enjoy spending time with, and then when you do, it's really nothing special.

I’d agree with that to a point: the older you get, the time you spend together and the fact that they come from further and further away each time to visit you (and yeah, they all have kids) means more to you than the fact that you ended up hanging out in a bar or doing something equally as mundane or . . . un-special.

Or that out-of-town restaurant that you have to go to because, well, you can't go there in your home town.

Try that little burger shack in Prairie du Chien (Pete’s Burgers), across the street from Stark’s Liquor and a stone’s throw from the Mississippi . . . nothin’ quite like that in my hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

So it is with Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewing. I know some of my Wisconsin friends are cursing my name right now, but I have to ask: What's the big deal?

Ain’t no big deal at all, just a drinkable corn-adjuncted APA and the flagship of the Carey’s Pole Barn Empire (and yeah, the name and label are cute - the ladies really dig on that!) I felt even more snickery when I found Spotted Cow on tap at the Europa Haus in Dubuque, Iowa, with bootlegged bottles of Fat Tire also in the offing. I sent Deb Carey a postcard describing the scene . . . I think she thinks I’m nuts (I am : )

I had two of 'em at a Memorial Day Party last night, and frankly there are many beers which rise above the Cow. Not that it's horrible--hardly--but it's hardly special. It's a good summer beer I suppose--light, clean, refreshing--but not something I would drive to Hudson solely for.

Hudson is worth the drive for the hilarity of the on-again off-again availability of Bear Republic, Beast from Avery, Olde Skool barleywine, and others. NG is sort of like the icing on the cake.

[For those non-Minnesotans out there, New Glarus is one of many fine beers which doesn't make it to Minnesota.

One of the many, many, MANY fine beers which will never, ever, EVER make it to this tax-heavy wasteland of Gluek’s and Natty Ice. Just one of the many reasons to travel.

Apparently, some of our liquor taxes discourage small breweries from coming to our state. So if you live in Minnesota and want to drink New Glarus, you need to drive to Hudson, the first Wisconsin town across the river from us.]

Not only the beverage alcohol taxes but also the MN state licensing fee for out-of-state brewers, which was doubled in the past year ($800-$1600.)

This is not to knock all New Glarus beers. They offer eight brews regularly, with a couple seasonal ones. Their Hop Hearty Ale is a fine IPA, and I had their Fat Squirrel last night as well which is a pleasant, very drinkable brown. But the Spotted Cow has many people raving, and I found it just kinda ok. Maybe I'd pick up a 6-pack on the way to the cabin, but there are certainly other beers--like Three Floyds--which I'd prefer would make it across state lines.

There’s this crazy story about how All Saint’s Brands had August Schell produce Alpha King for the local market and neglected to pay FFF their cut for the product sold . . . some folks in the vicinity of the craft brew world can be pretty unscrupulous.

Similarly, Fat Tire from New Belguim Brewery is another beer which isn't available in Minnesota, and which I think is overrated and is appealing in part because you can't get it here.

Back in the day before so many wonderful brands were available locally the same was said of many of the craft brews that didn’t make it here: absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder and the beer seem overrated. Of course, some folks simply pick a favorite and never develop their palate.

Eric said...

thanks for taking the time to comment....

Eric said...

"Not only the beverage alcohol taxes but also the MN state licensing fee for out-of-state brewers, which was doubled in the past year ($800-$1600.)"

You can thank our governor's no tax pledge for THAT one....Frankly I'd rather see my income taxes go up--and actually see em--than all these hidden fees.