Monday, December 14, 2009

New Glarus Cranbic

Another one of my biases, I'll warn you ahead of time: I don't like cranberries. I'm coming around to them, but, really, I just don't like them. Way too sweet and sharp for my tastes. I love lambics, but cranberries, not so much. So, I solved the problem of my bias by finding an unbiased third party to taste this beer for me: Mrs. MBR. She loves cranberries. And lambics.

So, today's review is my notes, verbatim, from Mrs. MBR's mouth.

New Glarus Cranbic
BeerAdvocate (A). RateBeer (98).

Appearance: honey-ish, but it's reddish; kinda red, but kinda not; a strawberry blonde maybe
Aroma: smells like a fruity shampoo I used to have, but in a good way; you can definitely smell fruit, but not necessarily identifiable as cranberry
Flavor: Everything that Sand Creek Cranberry isn't [ed note: Mrs. MBR and I went to the Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens, WI and bought a 6-pack of the Sand Creek Cranberry; neither of us finished the bottle we started and we dumped the other four down the sink; this was a few years back, and I believe that the recipe for that beer has been changed for the better]; tart, sweet and drinkable; definitely tart, with a tinge of sweetness; like a raw cranberry
Body: light on the tongue; dry champagne-like; strong, the immediately gone, but the memory remains
Drinkability: I would drink again, but not tonight; a great cocktail-party beer
Summary: {OK, I'm back} Truth be told, I did drink some of it, and even for my non-cranberry-liking predilections, I thought it was pretty decent, though I couldn't help thinking that I'd like it even more with cherries instead; but Mrs. MBR really liked it, and the champagne comparison is quite apt. In fact, this beer looks very, very different when served (as suggested) out of a champagne flute, than out of a pint glass (or, in my a case, a low-ball tumbler).


  1. Is this a review of New Glarus or Sand Creek? I have not tried either of these beers and I use your site to see what is out there and new on the shelf in Madison. Do you really think that this review is fair for New Glarus, Sand Creek or your readers?

    When was the last time you reviewed a beer that was brewed in Madison? The Great Dane and the Ale Asylum are right here in Madison and I cannot remember the last time you had anything to say about their beer over New Glarus’s beer. Granted, New Glarus makes great beer but they are not the only brewery in the state.

  2. In fairness, NG comes out with many more beers on a rotating basis. Ale Asylum has their solid core and make fantastic beers (my personal favorite local brewery), but they don't have a wide selection. As for the Dane, well, you have to physically be there to drink their brews, you can't just pick up a sixer and drink it when the time is right. I'm just saying that makes it somewhat more difficult to review them as often.

  3. Love this! And I completely agree with your champagne flute comment. Lambics are too special to be chugged out of a wide-mouthed glass. They must be savored sip by sip on a special occasion. Cranbic is much less of a beer substitute than a special-occasion bubbly one, IMO :)

  4. Mr. MBR I'm like you. Mrs. Anonymous is also a big Cranberry fan where I am not. She likes the Cranbic,but she still likes Sand Creeks Cranberry beer. We were at the Dells Fest in October. And the SC Cranberry was voted best fall seasonal beer.
    One of the cool things about Ale Asylum is the amount of variety they have at their pub. They sure do make quite the variety. Like you JW, I wished they bottled up more beers. Like the first anonymous said, there are so many great breweries in the area and state. No slight to New Glarus, but I rather have a Blonde Dopplebock, Bitter Women, Contorter Porter, Gray's Oatmeal or hey what the heck Sprecher Tripel.

  5. So many beers, so little time.

  6. I don't understand this review at all! Sand Creek's cranberry is an ale infused with cranberries. While New Glarus is a lambic or in the lambic style. Two totally different beers wich are both awesome in there own individual way!!!!! Il

  7. Sand Creek's cranberry = is a German ale brewed with real Wisconsin cranberries. I love this brew! Its a great seasonal brew that pairs well with holiday time food..............

  8. What's up with Mr. MBR ??
    Do you have a bug up your ass for Sand Creek.
    Have you had a new version of their cranberry?
    The recipe changes every year with the cranberries, just like a grape vintage.
    I have read a couple of slam reviews from you and what have they done to be smacked around?
    I hear sweet love stories about Furthermore and New Glarus but nothing but put downs for Sand Creek.
    Do you not realize that "EVERY BOTTLE AND KEG" of Furthermore beer is brewed by Sand Creek?
    Yes, Furthermore beers are good but if there wasn't a group of great brewers working at Sand Creek the beers would suck.

  9. Good Going Bobby!

    It sure sounds like biased to me.

    Maybe MBR should be changed to New Glarus & Furthermore Beer Review? Just an idea....

  10. I think other commenters have a fair point that MBR could post more reviews on more beers from more brewers, but I'm not sure that the argument that MBR has something against Sand Creek can be supported. If you check out MBR's previous posts on Sand Creek, you'll see that MBR himself recognizes that he hasn't reviewed a lot of Sand Creek. He has, however, spent a lot of time discussing Sand Creek's role as a contract brewery and has had nothing but praise for Jim and Todd and the work they do. MBR also states in the Badger Porter review that Sand Creek "make[s] pretty solid beer in their own right." I don't know Mr. MBR, but I do know he must spend a lot of time putting this blog together. I'm sure he would appreciate constructive criticism, but let's keep it civil and thank him for the work he does do.

  11. jon (beer talk today)December 16, 2009 at 2:02 PM

    Bobby Parker on December 16, 2009 9:10 AM said...
    Do you not realize that "EVERY BOTTLE AND KEG" of Furthermore beer is brewed by Sand Creek?...Yes, Furthermore beers are good but if there wasn't a group of great brewers working at Sand Creek the beers would suck.

    To clarify..every beer is brewed AT Sand Creek. Aaron is active in the brewing of almost all Futhermore beers. He is also fully responsible for the recipes of all of the Futhermore beers. Sand Creek brewers have nothing to do with those. Therefore, you cannot make the statement that those beers would suck without the brewers at Sand Creek. And to follow up by trying to say they wouldn't exist without the brewers at Sand Creek would be silly, because i'm sure those Futhermore boys could have worked a deal with some other brewery, if it had come to that.

    As far as the amount of NG reviews, they continue to come out with 4 new Unplugged beers, as well as R&D beers every year. It just makes sense that they would get at least all of those beers reviewed. I would prefer to not see a review of Sand Creeks cranberry beer every year, regardless of how much it changes.

    Mr. MBR is not writing a biased review at all. He is simply comparing two local beers that are using the same local, primary adjunct. He even prefaces the review by stating that he doesn't even like cranberry, which should que any free thinking beer drinker to take his review as one person's opinion, and try the beers for themselves.

  12. The discussion has very lively and informative. I think everyone here is making some good points. We are blessed to have so many wonderful breweries in this area and in the state, turning barley, hops, water and yeast into a wonderful beverage.
    I would have to repectfully disagree with Jon about Mr. MBR not writing a biased review at all. All opinion pieces are based on personal perspective, point of view and tastes. It is subjective and there is nothing wrong with that
    Personally fruit beers even "Belgianized" ones are not my choice of beverage, I rather have wine or braggot.

    I would say the all time worst fruit beers came out from Capital many years ago. It was called "THE RAZZ".


  13. "Yes, Furthermore beers are good but if there wasn't a group of great brewers working at Sand Creek the beers would suck." -Anon

    With respect, Anon, you don't know shit from fat meat. As has been pointed out, While definitely an asshole, Aran is active on the brewery floor and the recipes are his and his alone. I'll add that Aran graduated from the Amercan Brewer's Guild program hosted at UC Davis. He brewed beer commercially in demanding settings for ten years BEFORE founding Furthermore. Don't mistake the lack of ownership of stainless steel with a lack of capacity to brew beer.

    That said, hats off to Sand Creek for hosting us and putting up with our bullshit - we tend to turn the joint upside down every now and again, and they very graciously tolerate us. We are grateful to them for their professionalism and hard work on our behalf.

    While there is no real risk to you for shooting your trap off like a dumb ass (what being anonymous and all), I'd appreciate it if you'd refrain from posting ad hominem attacks on people and a business you clearly don't know too much about. If you want to take me to task, I encourage you to do so, be it here on MBR or my very decidedly not anonymous email:

  14. Chris, you don't get it. I am not taking you to task over your beers.
    My comment was not an knock on Furthermore but I tried to make it a wake up call to the followers of this page.
    1. "Yes, Furthermore beers are good but if there wasn't a group of great brewers working at Sand Creek the beers would suck." True dat, it was to point out the fact that Furthermore was doing their beer at a quality brewery and not at some crappy garage in 5 gal. buckets.
    I have stopped by the brewery on my travels to MSP and they have a great place up there, it is clean and the guys know what they are doing.
    2. "With respect, Anon, you don't know shit from fat meat." I did not imply that Aran was not making the recipes, I was told that all of the beer was being made AT Sand Creek. Some of Aran's ideas in beer are very cool, it's good to have someone else out there pushing the limits.
    3. The reason I was pissed was the stab at Sand Creek that Mr. MBR keeps doing. Let me again quote from his Badger Porter review:
    "For some reason we haven't really reviewed much of Sand Creek's output here."
    "he lack of any strong flavor or aroma makes it hard to recommend this; the porter style isn't one of those styles that you can pass off as a "low-flavor, high-sessionability" kind of thing - it needs flavor - any flavor really; smoky, burnt toast, nutty, coffee, chocolate, pick one, it doesn't matter, but its gotta have flavor and this just isn't there; don't get me wrong, if I were at a bar and in the mood for a porter and this was what they had, I'd drink it without complaint and it would pass for its purposes; it's not poorly made and I'm sure this low-flavor drinkability is what they are going for, but as I'm finding in my travels around the style, that's just not really what porters are about."
    Mr. MBR's remarks sound more like a backhanded slap to the face of Sand Creek. It would pass for it purposes? Low flavor? Drinkability? Not what porters are about?
    This sounds like he is saying "it was a good beer but since I can drink more than 1 at a time it must not be good enough."
    Mr MBR might do himself some justice and try judging the beers by their style and not by his misconceptions. The porter was not labeled as a smoked porter or a double porter but just as a porter, true to style. The cranberry ale was just that, a cranberry ale. They did not lie to anyone about the beer, it was not a lambic or any other twisted fruit style.

    Linnie's made a killer IPA last year, Miller made a chocolate beer too, I would assume that you never tried either of them "knowing that I wouldn't like them, their from Miller".

    So in closing, my posts were no an attack at a brewery or brewer but a wake up call for Mr. MBR to step out and look at beers with less negativity. There are quite a few Wisconsin breweries that you have never tried or in fact will never try due to your misconceptions about their beers.

  15. Bobby -

    My point is simply that, like them or not, Aran is qualified to make our beers and they wouldn't suck but for Sand Creek. They may suck regardless of who makes them, but they don't not suck because they are made at Sand Creek.

    And I DO, and did, get your point about Mr MBR's coverage of Sand Creek. Fair enough. Just didn't understand the need to bring FmB into the discussion to make your point.

    BTW, I owe you an apology, as you were not anonymous. That got my hackles up more than anything, and in fact, your name was right there on top of your post. My eyeballs didn't track well. Mea Culpa.


  16. As Mrs. MBR, it was actually ME taking the swipe at Sand Creek's Cranberry Ale. I *love* cranberries. When I picked up the 6-pack, I was excited about it until I drank it. Blech! I really did NOT like it at all. That was 2-3 years ago. I tried it again this year at the Thirsty Troll, and it was better. I could be talked into trying a bottle again. I just haven't yet because we picked up Winter Skal or Sheep Shagger or whatever instead.

    I made an off-hand comment that was really more or less shorthand to Jeff saying "now this is a cranberry beer I would keep around rather than pawn off on unsuspecting family."

    And to stick up for Mr. MBR, he does have to live within the contraints of my insistance that half of our fridge can be not beer. And we do frequent Ale Asylum, Great Dane, et al, but you try to write tasting notes when you are there enjoying yourself. Especially if a Mrs. MBR is insisting that perhaps you talk instead. :)

  17. Interesting comments Mrs. MBR. You have a pretty good memory of things that you tasted. I am the same way, I can remember a beer but forgot some moment relevant to Mrs. Anonymous. I was brought up with the belief "if you have nothing good to say about something or someone, keep it to your self". Too often critique turns into bashing one thing to make the other look better. It's that part of the review that set off the comments. Thanks for setting the record straight.

    Chris - Real nice with the potty language,@#$^ WTF!

  18. "Real nice with the potty language,@#$^ WTF!"

    Sorry if I've offended your delicate and anonymous sensibilities. I do have a bit of the sailor in me. I'll try and clean it up on your behalf, whomever you are.

  19. OK, I can stick up for myself and I've let this go on long enough: "Mr MBR might do himself some justice and try judging the beers by their style and not by his misconceptions. The porter was not labeled as a smoked porter or a double porter but just as a porter, true to style. The cranberry ale was just that, a cranberry ale. They did not lie to anyone about the beer, it was not a lambic or any other twisted fruit style."

    My point was exactly that it's NOT to style. I had just produced 5 dissertations on what, EXACTLY, the porter style is. The wide range of things that are porter. And my point was that Sand Creek's porter was on the very light end of things that could be called porter. It is not "true to style" in the slightest. The Sand Creek Porter bastardizes the style in favor of sessionability and I pointed that out. Period. I never said I didn't like it. In fact, I said explicitly that I'd drink it and be happy about it if I were at a bar. But, I didn't think it was fair in a review of the porter style to really compare it with "true porters" like Samuel Smith's, St Peter's, or Great Lakes. But, my point again, was that it wasn't TRYING to be a "true" porter, but that it was trying to be a SESSIONABLE porter (not a stylistic goal of porters, by the way), and in THAT regard, they hit their mark.

    As for the cranberry beer - my comment made it very explicit that the experience was multiple years ago of a different recipe. It drew a comparison because they are both made of cranberries; that's it. That recipe and that recollection was of a shit beer (sorry to be rude and to the point, but it was not a good beer by any stretch of the imagination and I've actually TOLD Todd and the fine brewers at Sand Creek this). I also explicitly stated that the recipe HAD been changed for the better, but that I still don't like cranberries.

    So, fire away at my ignorance and ignoring of Sand Creek. I've admitted that I've been a bit negligent in reviewing their beer. I have my reasons for it, to some extent, which if you ever meet me and say hello, I'll be happy to tell you. But, I do promise, in the meantime, to review more Sand Creek in the moderately near-term future.


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