The Complication of Cows

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cows.

Uncomplicated. Simple life. Stand around, moo at one another, eat what's put in front of you, poop where you want.

What you see is what you get with a cow. They don't come in a massive variety of colors and shades. They are generally pretty docile. They don't appear to be especially brilliant.

And let's not forget: they're damn tasty.

I can think of no better way to describe New Glarus Brewing Company's Spotted Cow Cream Ale. Uncomplicated, simple, but still damn tasty. Here's what I mean:

Spotted Cow, like all cream ales, pours gold with a hint of copper. Make no bones...this beer just looks like beer, no more, no less. What you see is what you get. Moo.

Though mostly clear, there is a slight haze with a load of suspended particulate; Spotted Cow is a cask-aged ale so what you're seeing is yeast. The thin but fluffy eggshell-white head left rings of fine lacing down the glass, marking each quaff's progress down the pint.

This cow is sugary or corn-syrupy sweet. It has that hint of grassy, earthy aroma that goes hand-in-hand with a malty, grainy beer. But that's a cream ale. It's got grainy malts. It smells like grainy malt. What you smell is what you get. There is a scant clover-field floral aroma from the sparing use of hops. Grains? Clover? Is there a theme here perhaps?

That the flavor profile doesn't open-up new and exciting experiences is neither a surprise nor a fault. Grains and sweet syrupy malt dominate the taste. Spotted Cow, being cask aged, is slighty yeasty in that there is just a hint of sourness. It's not as sour as a Belgian; this is more of a hint that balances the grainy sweetness, giving you earthy-sweetness with a hint of sour to match. The reflective aftertaste is almost orange-zest. It's not that these "hints" and "almosts" are missed opportunities in a beer that could otherwise be great. For a cream ale, Spotted Cow is great. It's just...simple.

As its style, Spotted Cow's medium body and lower carbonation suggests a creamy feel, making it just that much more drinkable.

Here's the bottom line:

Cream Ales tend to be one-dimensional. If I had a one-dimensional stout or IPA, I would be gravely disappointed. But like a Kolsch, a Cream Ale's lack of adventure is exactly what you want when you want a beer for beer's sake. What gives a Cream Ale the edge over BudandMiller is the creamy texture and the fact that "malt" and "hops" actually have a presence in the beer as opposed to Honorable Mention on the label. In the realm of Cream Ales, Spotted Cow stands out as that one step creamier, one step maltier, one-step more complicated than the average. It's one of those "session beers" that you find goes down way too easy, one after another.

3 comments:

Anonymous,  11:19 AM  

I dig the way you used "moo" as punctuation....I know more of a literary comment than an alcoholic one, but cool none the less!

Smitty 6:28 PM  

Thanks, Anon! Writing these is nearly as fun as drinking them, so it's great that the writing is noticed above and beyond the beer.

Smitty 6:29 PM  

Thanks, Anon! Writing these is nearly as fun as drinking them, so it's great that the writing is noticed above and beyond the beer.

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