I’m glad my New Glarus kick continues because this brew has been sitting in my fridge for waaay too long. Now, New Glarus is recognized for having some world-class fruit beers. The first I had was their Wisconsin Belgian Red, but this review will be dedicated to their Raspberry Tart. Full disclosure: with all the New Glarus beers I’ve tried this one has eluded me until this day. My wife has even had this one, but not me! That all changes now. Let’s pour!
Aroma 12/12: The distinct, slightly sour fruit of raspberries is abundant and is presented in a way that says “refined.” A champagne-like dryness sits just behind all the fruit, giving the aroma of some high-end sparkling ciders but with raspberry tones instead of grape or apple. Thus making it a bit more acidic and, as the name would imply, tart. The thick fruit aroma will not be ignored and at times gives wafts of a fermented “boozy” character. It is almost like smelling a jar of homemade raspberry preserves and if you’ve not been fortunate enough to have a grandmother into jarring fruit, go to the grocery store and crack open a jar of those most expensive-looking raspberry preserves you can find, stir it vigorously with your first two fingers, and take a deep whiff. They won’t mind.
Appearance 2/3: The appearance leaves nothing to be desired with the exception of the head, which aggressively fizzles and dies like champagne. The color is phenomenal! Ruby reds, sparkling magentas, vivid vermillions, and edges that brown ever so slightly like real cherry juice. This all seems remarkably appropriate given the trees during this time of year, but shouldn’t have any trouble being appreciated year round.
Flavor 20/20: Wow! This is not your alco-pop variety lambic! “Wow” even seems inadequate. Perhaps the only thing with more authentic raspberry flavor would be a glass of recently-muddled raspberries. Initial flavors are mellow, sweet, full, and round. I swear it’s nearly buttery. The backbone is an amazing progression of fruit flavors, from fermented raspberry sweet, to tongue tantalizingly tart, to a bitter flavor. I strongly recommend just holding it in your mouth to experience this. I think I found a “raspberry black hole.” The flavor of raspberries that is so dense and folded on itself so many times that it gets darker and darker. Eventually, the flavor is so dark that at points it appears as a light bitter note. OK, no more psuedoscience jokes. The bitter is not as aggressive (and, in my opinion unpleasant) as a cranberry is, but it is certainly another layer of taste in this world-class fruit beer. The finish is a bit earthy, as if when eating a cherry, you happened upon a bit of the stem. It continues the bitter and earthy notes and combines them with a sense of carbonation all over your tongue. A nice effect considering the carbonation in this beer is actually much lower than what one would expect.
Mouthfeel 5/5: This beer takes huge steps away from lambics that err by being too light-bodied and overly carbonated. Raspberry tart is the most full-bodied fruit beer that I have ever had. It sits heavy and the mouth and is never offensive with its carbonation. The bubbles are so tiny that despite their few numbers (a bit of an oddity in a fruit beer), in the finish they still leave the tongue feeling like it has been bathed in effervescence. It leaves the mouth a bit slick from the sweetness, but it is a small trade for a beer this wonderful.
Overall Impression 10/10: An excellent, world-class fruit beer, hands down. This only goes to show that fruit beers can be so much more than candied, overly-carbonated, fruit juices! The color is simply ridiculous, the aroma intoxicating, the flavor complex and authentic, and the mouthfeel substantial without inducing lethargy. It is amazing in every category and an example for fruit beer makers everywhere.
Total 49/50: There are simply not enough superlatives for this beer. To avoid glowing about every single facet of this beer, I’m going to simply reiterate my favorite characteristic. THE FLAVOR! How this beer transitions from a sweet raspberry straight from the vine, to a tart biting thing, to a bitterer, aged, rounded flavor is absolutely beyond me. One of those excellent flavors would be great. All three separates the men from the boys. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish the rest of this bottle before my wife knows I have it open.
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!