The day before we were headed out to Wisconsin last week to visit my family, our friend Traca found out where we were going and begged us to bring back some beer for her. Her friend had told her about a cherry beer called Wisconsin Belgian Red, which is not available for retail anywhere outside of Wisconsin (the brewing company’s web site says, “Sorry about the limited distribution, non-Wisconsinites. There are only so many hours in the day to make beer and we can only keep up with the local demand”). It was top pick in a taste test he had with the beer buyer at Whole Foods.
I had no idea this beer was right there under my nose at my parents’ small-town grocery store. Although, it’s not really that surprising, because the Wisconsinites I know love sweet wine, and many wines made in Wisconsin are not just made with grapes. They’ve got raspberry wine, cherry wine, apple wine, and my grandfather even used to make his own dandelion wine.
Door County (the “thumb” of the hand-shaped state) is known for its cherries, and that’s what New Glarus Brewing Company puts into their Wisconsin Belgian Red. In fact, there’s a whole pound of the Montmorency cherries in every bottle. It’s not very hoppy, but more like a cherry sparkling wine that tastes like beer. We managed to carry back a few bubble-wrapped bottles in our luggage. They don’t make it easy nowadays with the luggage, weight, and liquid restrictions!