As summer comes to a close, New Glarus Brewing Co. has come out with a two very different new seasonal beers: Laughing Fox Kristal Weizen and Black Top Black IPA. One is traditional, the other modern; one is mild, the other assertive; one is light, the other dark; one is...ok I'll stop there, but you get the idea.
New Glarus Laughing Fox Kristal Weizen
Appearance: Surprisingly dark, copper-orange with a big, foamy, lingering head.
Aroma: Clove, cinnamon, and just of hint of the hefeweizeny banana ester.
Flavor: In short, very mild. Hints of wheat and clove, with a very thin body. None of the caramel flavors the darker color implies come through in the taste. The yeast notes become a bit more pronounced as the beer warms up; I'd drink this one at cellar temperature for full effect. A very light, clean beer with mild hefeweizen-yeast notes.
Drinkability: Absurdly drinkable.
Summary: The copper color made me think that Dan might be throwing us a curve ball here, but this beer is basically a light, filtered Hefeweizen, which, I suppose, is exactly what a Krstial Weizen should be. According to the bottle, the color is meant to match that of a fox's fur, which it nails head on. I have to say I prefer Dancing Man, but that one clocks in at 7.2% abv, where as Laughing Fox is a modest 4.5%, making it a good choice for a session on the last few hot days of summer (which may already be behind us, unfortunately).
Black Top Black IPA
Appearance: Very dark brown if not quite black, with hints of dark amber when held up to the light.
Aroma:: Classic American hop notes of Citrus and Pine, with a hint of caramel in the background.
Flavor: Assertive American hop flavor up front, finishing with a strong bitterness and just a hint of roast. I suspect they use a combination of de-bittered black malt with some roasted malt to get the dark color without too much roast. There is a hint of an acidic bitterness, likely from the roast malt, that melds with the hop bitterness to form a minerally, almost quinine-like bitter note. However the roast flavor is restrained enough so as to not be astringent or unpleasant. A very interesting blend of flavors.
Drinkability: Moderate. The bitterness and roasted note combine to wear out the palate a bit as the glass goes down. I don't see my self drinking a bunch of these in a row.
Summary: Not an IPA/Stout hybrid, but rather a solidly bitter IPA with just a hint of roast that adds some uniqueness and complexity. A tasty brew.