Here is another of the many promised New Glarus reviews! This particular one is dedicated to their wins at the GABF, particularly the Black Top, which was reviewed at Sud Savant just last week. This review is for one of their beers that is not new to their lineup, the Cabin Fever Honey Bock. Granted, it’s the beginning of fall and no one has Cabin Fever quite yet (depending on how dank your cubicle is), but with all the fall produce available (homemade honey included) and the trees starting to turn color, the color of a bock appealed to me and so did the honey aspect. Not just darker beers get enjoyed this time of year, you know! Let’s pour!
Aroma 10/12: First to the nose are strong straw/grain notes with a little musty hint trailing them. The honey and crisp (not sharp) citrus follow behind them, but soon take over as the primary scent. The sour of the citrus and the malts combine at time to make an almost peat-like aroma, but it is far and few between. The pale malts involved were roasted little if at all.
Appearance 2/3: It’s like looking into a piece of yellow topaz. Not a great variety of shades, but a brilliant singular color with a tornado-like column of carbonation ascending the center of my tulip glass. The head is ivory, ample, and full of medium-sized soapy bubbles. These die down to leave a cream-like layer covering the top.
Flavor 17/20: The beginning is very neat. The sweetness of pale malts and the tone of the honey combine to make the illusion of an apple flavor. The malts are first, then comes the citrus and honey and for a moment an apple has suddenly snuck its way into the bottle! After this neat blend, it flows seamlessly into the backbone of the beer which starts out with the tang of citrus and sweetness of honey, but eventually the pale sweet malts steal the show and do not let go. The finish is a distinct farewell from the cream-like malts, almost bordering on vanilla flavors, with the faintest of hop bitter for balance. There are times that when the combination of flavors in this beer are almost floral without being perfume-like or too faint and dainty.
Mouthfeel 5/5: The nuanced, light flavors are matched well with a well-carbonated beer that has more body than one would expect in a beer this light thanks to the abundance of pale malts. The dying of the carbonation in the mouthfeel, despite the ever-ascending column in the center of my glass, adds a creamy mouthfeel to the already creamy-flavor.
Overall Impression 8/10: Clearly a Helles bock, and not the traditional variety, this beer is bright and vibrant at every turn. The color shines, the flavor braids the three primary flavors (citrus, honey, malt) into a spring-like medley, and the carbonation is just right.
Total 42/50: If one were suffering from Cabin Fever this beer would do one of two things:
1. Bring a little bit of sunshine into your life, thus “curing what ails ya.”
2. Make the lack of sunshine in your “cabin” glaringly obvious and further exacerbate the suffering.
Thankfully, it is only the early fall and I did not have to undergo such experimentation. What I do know is that the honey sings in this beer without feeling like you took a spoonful of it in your glass. I also know that if I were suffering from cabin fever, I could easily put down 6-7 of these and give myself something to do while trapped indoors. As it stands, this bright sunny beer was perfect for this beautiful fall day. I went on a “scenic drive” today and with all the yellowing leaves, bright skies, ripe fall fruits, and fresh honey at local farmers’ stands I cannot imagine a more perfect pairing for the day than this bright, vibrant, delicate offering from New Glarus. I think I’d gladly suffer from this Cabin Fever anytime. Cheers!
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!