Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Organic Revolution

New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: Golden Ale

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)

It’s time to review another new release from New Glarus Brewing Co., which seems to be cranking out a new brew every month. The latest 2007 release, Organic Revolution, joins three Unplugged Series brews (Belgian Quadruple, Bourbon Barrel Bock, and the new Smoke on the Porter), as well as this spring’s Stone Soup, early summer’s Home Town Blonde, and late summer’s Dancing Man Wheat. Add to that last winter’s Copper Kettle Weiss, which is only a year old. Needless to say, Dan and Deb Carey have been busy in New Glarus, especially considering they’re putting the finishing touches on a new brewery. Unfortunately for you non-Wisconsin Beer Dorks, there’s still no word on New Glarus extending their distribution beyond the Badger State.

I’ve been able to try all seven releases in the past year from New Glarus (I’m a Beer Dork, so I drink a lot) and considered all but one to be four-muggers, with the lone exception being Dancing Man Wheat (perhaps surprising since this has received the best reception among craft beer bloggers). That’s an impressive rate of success, though not surprising given the reputation New Glarus has built up over the years. While I still find some of their brews like Spotted Cow, Totally Naked and Yokel to be a bit weak, I can’t argue with the course this Wisconsin craft beer institution continues to take. Kudos to the Carey’s.

I read a little about Organic Revolution online before I picked some up and most blogs claimed it was either an “organic pale ale” (this is not a category in my opinion) or American pale ale. The “organic” part of the title refers to the fact that it’s brewed with organic German hops (Hallertau to be exact) and organic Wisconsin malted barley. Brewed by-the-books using the infamous 1516 German Law of Purity, or Reinheitsgebot, (say it with me: beer is to be brewed using only water, barley, and hops … yeast was not included at the time since it wasn’t discovered until the 19th century), New Glarus is trying to create an old-fashioned ale that’s both pure and tasty.

My first inclination that this may not be up to the typical standards would be the fact that they misspelled “Reinheitsgebot” on the bottle (according to New Glarus the “s” and “t” have switched places). Oops. My next clue should have been that I saw it listed as an American pale ale on most web sites. I disagree with this label. New Glarus simply calls it an “organic pale ale” with a “golden flavor,” making it hard to distinguish what exact style we have here. My thoughts: in no way is this an American pale ale and it’d be tough to consider it a pale ale at all. I’d say “golden ale” is the best description, as it’s very similar to a pilsner.

So, what kind of Revolution do we have here? Is it a five mugger like the American and French Revolutions (both historic and awe-inspiring), a three-mugger like the Bolshevik Revolution (historic, but fundamentally flawed), or a one-mugger like the late 1970s “disco revolution” (comically bad and hard to stomach). It’s not the worst beer I’ve ever had, but I’m giving it a disappointing two mugs due to the fact that I’ve come to expect far more from the folks at New Glarus. To misquote the long-deceased Che Guevara: “No viva la Revolución de Organicos!”

Organic Revolution pours a light golden brown color with a pillowy white head that quickly dissipates, leaving a decent looking brew in the glass, though it doesn’t really resemble a pale ale (it looks EXACTLY like a pilsner). Like most New Glarus brews it’s bottle conditioned, making it a bit fizzy with slight sedimentation. The aroma is weak: mostly a light citrus aroma of grapefruit, lemon, and orange peel, along with a tinge of sweet malt and grainy earthiness. Hops are detectable, but only very slightly. While Hallertau hops don’t have that distinct crisp, zippy, pungent aroma of Cascade hops, this is still far, far too timid for a brew that many claim to be a pale ale.

The taste is as disappointing and as feeble as the aroma. It sort of reminds me of a weaker version of Home Town Blonde, which was a very good beer, albeit a pilsner. HT Blonde was good BECAUSE it was a flavorful pilsner and didn’t try to pass itself off as something more. Hallertau hops are very similar to the Bavarian and Czech hops used in most pilsners, and the light malted barley New Glarus uses in Organic Revolution resembles that of a pils … you get where I’m going with this. The light, somewhat refreshing flavor is dominated by citrus notes of grapefruit and navel orange, as well as a honey flavor typical of a good craft pilsner. Hops are a secondary player, muted a bit due to the European style (more subtle and earthy than American versions) but not nearly as prevalent as they should be if this was a pale ale. The flavor is simply too light and nondescript to make this an enjoyable brew. Very light in body, it’s a smooth beverage going down with a mild aftertaste. I didn’t see an ABV listed, but I’d guess it’s probably in the 5-5.5 percent range, so it’s not very powerful.

By no means is Organic Revolution an awful brew; it’s certainly drinkable. It is a HUGE disappointment if you’re expecting a pale ale, however, and a disappointing brew overall from a quality brewery that’s been cranking out so many excellent concoctions over the past year.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on November 26, 2007.
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