Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Moon Man

New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.0%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

New Glarus Brewing has never done hops well. Actually, scratch that: they’ve never really taken a stab at creating something wild and crazy with hops as the unquestionable star. I guess you could argue that their splendid Crack’d Wheat is just such an entry, but there the vibrant American hops are more like a co-star to classic Bavarian wheat spiciness brewmaster Dan Carey is so damned good at (see Dancing Man Wheat, Smoked Rye Bock, Copper Kettle Weiss—I could go on). And in the last few years they’ve experimented more with Belgian-inspired sour, Brett-tinged brews instead of coming up with their own, I dunno, double IPA.

Which is fine. Not every brewery needs to have an IPA, and, in fact, some breweries shouldn’t. So it didn’t completely surprise me when I heard they were discontinuing their IPA, Hop Hearty, in favor of a pale ale, tonight’s featured brew, Moon Man.

New Glarus brands this a session beer, and at 5 percent ABV, it’s fairly apt. They also talk about using a blend of five different hops, although it’s up to you to figure them out: I emailed their marketing person, who politely refused to name them. Oh, well. Another one of life’s mysteries.

Moon Man sits in the glass a perfectly clear yellow gold, wearing a thick slab of cream-colored foam. At least some, if not all, of those five hop varieties are American, because they pretty much explode out of the top of the glass in a big, big nose of grapefruit and a host of other citrusy fruit notes.

Generous bitterness along with citrusy hop flavor accompanies a surprisingly soft palate. Both flavor and bitterness fade toward a rather thin middle, tempered by only a hint of malt. The finish doesn’t go anywhere, and comes off a tad watery, made all the more glaring by a short shot of hop bitterness at the very end.

While certainly drinkable—and sporting a beautiful nose—Moon Man falls into the middle of a very crowded pack of pale ales. (Although not every American brewery needs a pale ale, every American brewery has one.) A stiffer body and maybe a slightly more punctuated hop presence at the finish would have done some good. As a session beer Moon Man certainly fills the bill both alcohol- and taste-wise, but if you’re looking for a pale ale that stands out in a crowd, Moon Man is a little too laid back.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on August 3, 2010.
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