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Spotted Cow

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New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: Ale
ABV: 4.8%

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

I despise the overuse of everyday phrases. “At the end of the day,” “Really?” (or its cousin, “Seriously?”), “Proof of concept,” and “It is what it is” among many, many others. Not because they’ve become annoying or indicative of lazy diction, but because in some cases these are useful phrases that are now completely ruined.

Take, for instance, “It is what it is.” This can be a usefully descriptive phrase, but it’s been so overused not by just regurgitative bloggers but real journalists that it doesn’t really have any kind of actual meaning any more. But it could be perfectly used to explain to someone who has yet to try tonight’s featured beer, Spotted Cow, what they are about to drink.

Spotted Cow is described as a farmhouse ale by New Glarus, alluding to the rustic homebrewed ales of the pre-industrial western world. Since this brew is not just unfiltered but bottle-conditioned—as well as brewed with (gasp) adjuncts like corn—it’s not an unapt description. But past that, don’t expect the funkiness you’d find in another “farmhouse” style—saison—or the spiciness of a throwback Belgian brew.

It’s because of this straightforwardness that I’d love to use my aforementioned, overused phrase here to prepare newcomers what to expect: unless you’re a devoted Bud Light drinker Spotted Cow will not knock your socks off. It’s an everyday beer, a sesssion beer, if you will, never designed to tie your tongue into knots or put grease in your gravy.

Despite this, in the glass you won’t mistake it for a macro, what with its big, snow-white head topping a dark yellow, slightly cloudy body. (I’ve heard mainstream beer drinkers refer to Spotted Cow as “dark beer.”) The aroma is downright tame, with just sweet malt hovering around the nostrils.

Although the body would be sledgehammer-heavy to shit beer drinkers, anyone even remotely familiar with craft beer would call this one light. The flavor is sweet-n-yeasty, zipping quickly to a short and quite fruity finish, snipped off by a sharp zip of carbonation.

This is exactly what Dan and Deb Carey, brewmaster and owner, respectively, of New Glarus Brewing, set out to craft when they made this their flagship beer. And it’s hard to argue with success: Spotted Cow is easily the best selling craft beer in Wisconsin, the only state, famously, where you’ll be able to get it (at least legally). (Other than at the Great American Beer Festival, where the lines for New Glarus usually snake around the convention floor. I wonder what the hardcore beer dorks who waited in line for an hour to taste it think after sucking down that sample.) And many a Wisconsinite beer lover has whispered thanks to a higher power (or at least the Careys) after scanning a rural bar’s beer offerings and finally coming across Spotted Cow to slake the thirst. No, this beer isn’t the most complex or even appealing beer out there—or even among the eclectic, mesmerically complex brews New Glarus comes up with throughout the year—but it’s a Hell of a lot better than any macro-brewed shit. It is. It is.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on September 28, 2011.
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