Sud Savant: New Glarus – Dancing Man Wheat

It is not often that these words come out of my mouth (er.. are typed) so listen carefully. “I’ve never had this New Glarus beer before.” There I said it. I am not proud, but there it is. in case you’re the type to glaze over article titles, today’s review is for New Glarus’ Dancing Man Wheat. I am really hoping that it is made with more wheat and not with dancing men. Let’s pour!

Aroma 12/12: Smelling this, one does not want to drink it. You either want to smell it all day or wear it as cologne. It is fantastic and has it all: rich, ripe bananas, coriander, cloves, light caramel malt, and a hint of citrus. Beautiful and a shining example of what a good wheat beer should taste like.

Appearance 3/3: A cloudy, golden honey color topped with an amazing, whipped head is a real smile-inducer to have in the glass. As if the head did not appear light and frothy enough to begin with, at times it even has merengue-like peaks. The head size was generous, but could have received extra super bonus points for sticking around a little longer.

Flavor 17/20: The aroma has deceived me yet again. Instead of mouthfuls of bananas, caramel, and spices, the beer fades almost immediately into a backbone of toasted grain, citrus, lesser caramel notes and more bitter than expected. This is not the over-the-top sweet beer from the aroma! The yeast flavors are being completely overpowered by a near perfect balance of the malt (caramel) and hops (citrus). In fact, the more I drink it, the more I get over my disappointment regarding the lack of sweet bananas and begin marveling at the balance this beer has. Wow! The longer it is held in the mouth, some of the Belgian yeast’s spiciness is allowed to really rear its head, but without the fruity esters. The finish is still a spicy, citrus bitter, but does show a hint of the caramel and banana to keep things from becoming too sharp. The aftertaste is not clean. The bitter stays on the back of the tongue and a odd dryness is left on the sides of the mouth.

Mouthfeel 4/5: Lots of carbonation here, maybe even a bit too much in the beginning. Toward the end it is still a bit prickly, but not a detriment. It has a very light body for a wheat beer and no creaminess of which to speak. The warmth is completely hidden and I was surprised to learn that this beer has a 7.2% ABV. A sixer of this could make for a very short evening!

Overall Impression 9/10: A superbly balanced beer that takes on all comers of the style. Not too sweet, high alcohol content, complexity, and a refreshing drinkability are only some of the many strengths of this beer. Many wheat beers that are sweet often become too heavy and cloying at the expense of wanting to drink more than one. This beer avoids that pitfall completely.

Total 45/50: If you live in and/or near Wisconsin and have not had this beer, shame on you. May your children have extra fingers and your cats go bald. This is an outstanding example of the style! It improves on several areas of some of my favorite wheat beers, with the only apparent concession being the lack of a robust banana flavor. It has a higher ABV, lighter body, more balance, and a subtle sweetness which allows the drinker to have several without feeling like they are going to have a diabetic seizure. This is a very nuanced beer sure to satisfy the new or experienced craft beer drinker and another reason that New Glarus enjoys the shiny reputation that it does. Prost!

Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!