Brewery: New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, Wisconsin
Beer: Wild Barrel (Bramble Berry Bourbon Barrel)
Serving: 500 ml bottle
Information: 7.5% ABV, 24 IBUs, Brewed 3.13 + 3.14, 16.5°P, Bottled 7.15.15
Style: American Wild Ale
Availability: Limited Release
Cellaring: “Great for aging or drinking today.”
Cloudy through and through, this murky mud-colored brew has red highlights with a pillowy pink-hued light khaki cap of foam. The acidity kills the suds quickly but the aroma remains. It’s not an attractive-looking, welcoming brew by any means.
Fresh raspberry and blackberry notes meet tart cherry skins and while the funk is certainly there, barnyard notes are subdued, overcome by more flourishing lactic acidity with a touch of a vinegar bite. Bourbon undertones from the barrel-aging are soft, not harsh, though it’s got a big aroma of oak. With everything else going on, it’s easy to forget the brown ale base characteristics but even that smells as good as ever. Give this one a good swirl to really open up the funky, sour aroma!
Dry biscuity malt flavor opens up the wild brown base with a brief touch of simplicity before the “forest fruit” kicks in with a subtle blend of raspberry, blackberry, and hint of black cherry. Sour funk follows the fruit across the palate flirting with barnyard notes and soft lactic acidity that’s felt more than it is tasted. Bourbon heat tickles the throat and warms the stomach but it’s flavor is gentle, allowing more of the oak characteristics from the barrel to come forwards which really envelops the beer quite nicely.
The carbonation tickle starts at the tip of the tongue and follows through the throat somewhat modestly as the bourbon profile warms the stomach. Wild Barrel’s sourness lands in a safe zone – not quite sour nor too tame; more acidic and tart than anything but a great way to end a sip of delicious beer!
It’s no surprise Dan Carey would bust out another awesome fruit beer knowing their track record; Wild Barrel, or Bramble Berry Bourbon Barrel as it’s been called, is another great rare Wild Fruit Cave release from New Glarus. Contrary to the majority of New Glarus’ fruit beers, Wild Barrel, aside from the nose, isn’t nearly as fruit-forward as their other offerings. Rather, this iteration focuses on a delicate balance between many otherwise strong contributing ingredients; fruit, wild yeast/bacteria, and bourbon barrels and blends them masterfully. I’ll definitely hang on to bottle two for a while.
Score: 90 / 100 – Exceptional