Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Awards

It's awards time.

We've already given out Most Improved Retail Selection: Barriques in Madison. With the hiring of a beer specialist, and the subsequent surrender of the beer buying to David Sanborn, Barriques has turned their Fitchburg location into a great "singles" bar.

Best Experimental Beer: Grumpy Troll Iced Maggie. An "ice cured" IIPA that took advantage of the multiple sub-zero days that froze Wisconsin last winter.

Best Beer Bar (Madison): The Malt House, Madison, WI. Yeah, I know, I initially derided it's lack of anything to do, but it's singular focus on beer (and now scotches and whiskeys and bourbons), its dedication to reasonable prices, and its workday ambiance make it a mecca for beer buffs passing through the city.

Best New Release: Furthermore Oscura. More iced coffee than espresso mud, it showed a great playfulness and exceptional skill to pull off a flavorful, different summer brew. It is a beer that will distinguish Furthermore for a long time.

Best Seasonal: Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout. A big, bold flavorful beer that is like drinking a cherry cordial with immense malt complexity. We should consider ourselves lucky that we can get this here in Wisconsin. It's only a pity that Central Waters doesn't package this in a 22oz bomber or, even better, a caged and corked 750ml bottle.

Best Special Release: Lakefront Bridge Burner. A different kind of beer for Lakefront, it is a great effort from a brewery that has a lot of flexibility to experiment in the upper end now that their everday lineup is firing on all cylinders.

Best Year-Round Release: Rowland's Calumet Oktoberfest. Always available. And, to my mind, the single best beer you can find every single day of the year anywhere in the world. And, no, I'm not exaggerating.

Best Beer 2008: Ale Asylum Mercy Grand Cru. Is it a blonde? A tripel? A quad? Who cares!? It's great. Big and bold and flavorful, it is great to finally see Ale Asylum start to unleash some of their Belgian beers on the public.

Best Brewery 2008: New Glarus Brewing Company. They just keep getting bigger, but they just keep getting better, too. Unlike other breweries that struggle to maintain quality as they get bigger, New Glarus has not missed on a single beer all year. The Unpluggeds were unparalleled and the new Alt really shows that New Glarus has something to add to the worldwide beer conversation.

Best Brewpub 2008: Please vote for Best Brewpub in the poll to the left there. Polling will be open until February 28, 2009, then we'll tally it up and announce the results.


  1. Totally agree with New Glarus as best brewery this year. The Imperial Weisen, Berliner Weiss, Bohemian Lager and Alt were all outstanding beers. I would probably put one of those ahead of Bridge Burner for Best Special Release, although that was a good beer as well.
    Gotta go with Ale Asylum for best brew pub. Consistently good everyday brews and great Belgians, cool atmosphere.

  2. I also was highly impressed with New Glarus this year - the Bohemian Lager would probably sit at the top of my year-end list if I took the time to come up with one. I definitely like Oscura as the best new release as well.

    I had to cast my vote for Ale Asylum too - I love their beers. If the location were better I'd be there all the time. I was a bit torn though, because I like the Dane overall and it's a great place to get dinner and a few high-quality beers.

  3. New Glarus may have good beer, but they claim to be a Family Business and look out for their employees. Someone should look into the number of employees they have fired. They definitely are not as caring of a company as they claim to be. They tend to fire employees often for no apparent reason. The Attorney General and Better Business Bureau should look into how this company does business. Creating good beers, having a genius brewmaster and a skillful artist/owner should not allow a company to act in such a reckless manner with employee's lives and well being. They know they are good and do not seem to think that the people working with and for them have anything to do with their success. Hopefully something can change their high and mighty attitudes that makes them think their unjustified firings are acceptable behavior. I am a concerned individual, hoping that new employees will be warned prior to accepting a position with New Glarus. People need to know that a job with this company may not be worth the risk to their future well-being.

  4. Dear Cowardly Anonymous,

    I value our team. Providing paid Health care, short and long term disablity, matching 401K contributions, paid vacations and Holidays and generous bonuses requires the dedicated focus and effort of all 50 people working here. Allowing the two people I released, this year, to find their bliss elsewhere made us a stronger happier brewery.
    May God bless you with peace,joy and success.

    Deb Carey
    new Glarus Brewing Co.


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