By Ben Rogers
Spotted Cow. It’s what separates Wisconsinites from the rest of the country.
A staple in any bar worth its liquor license, Spotted Cow is held in high esteem not only here, but also outside of the borders of the America’s Dairyland.
While the beer is delicious…it’s easy to get used to its great taste, Spotted Cow is the beer you order if you don’t want to drink light beer swill, but maybe don’t know much else about the other barley libations from Wisconsin. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. When I lived out of state I would pick up a couple cases whenever I crossed the border to return home. A visiting friend from two states over also recently hauled back a sizable quantity for personal consumption.
But now, having it available on tap everywhere, has taken away from the mystique of having to transport it across state lines like some sort of prohibition-era beer baron.
While I’ll never turn one down, the fact that it’s as easy to get here as fine cheese curds, it dulls the excitement and taste. It’s a first world Wisconsin problem, being spoiled with readily available delicious beer.
So what were the fine folks at New Glarus left to do? Introduce a better version, of course!
Spotted Cow Grand Cru is a limited edition Thumbprint Series brew from New Glarus. There are no guarantees it’ll be brewed again after its current run.
This new, limited edition Cow is also an Imperial style. Meaning it’s stronger than regular Spotted Cow. At 8.5 percent ABV this beer kicks
like a literal angry cow.
Out of the bottle it pours like its inspiration. Hazy and golden just like the famous farmhouse ale.
After one sip it also tastes very much like the original Spotted Cow, but it’s more of a heavy hitter.
While Spotted Cow has a taste most beer drinkers know in Wisconsin, Grand Cru is more complex. There’s a whole lot going on in my pint glass right now. Very hard to pin down why exactly it’s improved, but this beer is better than the flagship.
For a taste that is so uniquely Wisconsin, Grand Cru pulls inspiration and ingredients from the old country. There are Czech malts, joined with Wisconsin varieties. French and German hops are combined with varieties originally from northwest Oregon and Yakima Valley in Washington State.
The blend of hops adds another layer to Wisconsin’s favorite local brew. However, Grand Cru still has the same hint of orange peels that
makes the original as wildly popular as it is.
This strong beer practically demands to be sipped, not only because of the enhanced flavor but
because it’ll knock you back a step. But it’s a punch I’ll gladly take, over and over again.
Having a warm face after half a glass isn’t something I’m used to, but it’s something I could get used to.
It was taking a risk in hoping to improve on the splendor that is Spotted Cow, but Grand Cru just does that.
While it is delicious, it is a bit strong. It’s not nearly as drinkable as a regular Cow, but that doesn’t stop it from being delicious.
Still I’d rather have one bottle of this than two bottles of its inspiration