I know I said in the last brewery profile that we should move beyond the hate of Hate Week and embrace love and beer. AND I STILL THINK THAT’S A GOOD IDEA, BUT! We should also note that Wisconsin makes the best beer in the country and New Glarus Brewing Company is making some of the best beer in the state.
Spotted Cow is coveted by everyone in the other 49 states in the Union and the Belgian Red is the only beer my mom will drink. That means it’s really good. I will drive 90 minutes round-trip to Hudson to pick up Moon Man 12-packs. I have friends, plural, that ask me to pick up Staghorn Oktoberfest when I go to Badgers games in the fall.
What I’m trying to say is: New Glarus Brewing Company owns and Minnesota needs to recognize. Buy some local beer, bring it to your tailgate, and be a freaking hero. On, Wisconsin and On, New Glarus!
Name: New Glarus Brewing Company
Location: 2400 WI-69, New Glarus, WI, 53574
Twitter: @newglarusbeer (there is no official New Glarus Twitter account, but this used to be it and apparently the new placeholder is just waiting for Deb & Dan to want it back)
Key Beers: Moon Man ‘No Coast’ Pale Ale; Wisconsin Belgian Red; Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale; Two Women Lager; and, uh, I think that’s it!
Awards Won: New Glarus Brewing Company was named best mid-sized brewery of the year in 2005 and 2006 by the Great American Beer Festival. Head brewer Dan Carey was named brewer of the year those same years. You can find all of the awards that this highly thought-of brewery has won right here.
Here is my interview, conducted via email and lightly edited, with Milwaukee area salesman Jake Hay.
What got you started in the brewing industry?
While I was in college I had the pleasure of working as a server at Randy’s Fun Hunters brewery (now 841 Brewhouse) with a bunch of my buddies. I was very green going into the gig, and beer in general, but after a few months I really started to appreciate an array of styles and flavors and my curiosity took over from there. This is in the early 2000s, as the concept of drinking local really started to resonate with folks, myself included.
What did you go to school for?
I graduated with a degree in Journalism with an Advertising emphasis from UW-Whitewater. I originally wanted to be a news writer, but found after some time that I didn’t want to be given subjects to write on ...m which is exactly what that profession entails. So I enrolled in a small art school in Madison after graduating to become an art director, with the ultimate goal of being hired by an advertising agency. Slowly found out I was about as creative as a cardboard box. That being said, I do use my marketing/advertising/journalism expertise daily working as a brand builder for New Glarus Brewing Company, and I’m really happy that I chose that path in college.
When did you change your career path to be in the brewing industry?
I was working as a special events manager for a nationally-distributed frozen pizza company and traveling a lot, and it was wearing on me. At the same time, I was working part-time for an East Coast brewery that was launching in Wisconsin, so I was continuously learning how the distribution side worked. Yeah, I was busy. I was in the right place at the right time, and began working for a great distributor in the Milwaukee area. I continued to learn as much as I could about beer. I was a sponge, constantly trying new brews and developing my sales acumen simultaneously.
What is your favorite beer that your brewery makes?
This is an impossible question. We’re known for Spotted Cow obviously, and I think it’s amazing how that beer in particular resonates with Wisconsinites. However, the beer I constantly have in my fridge is our Moon Man ‘No Coast’ Pale Ale. Its lower ABV and approachable hoppiness paired with a malty body speaks to me. You can have a few in one sitting and the cans really pop with that grapefruit aroma.
What is your favorite beer that another brewery in Wisconsin makes?
Wisconsin has seen a surge of breweries pop up in the last few months, and that’s great for the beer community, as well as the beer drinker. I typically drink New Glarus when I’m drinking beer, but that being said, I really enjoyed the Central Waters Unsettled IPA.
Do you follow college football?
If so, how do you think the Wisconsin vs. Minnesota game will turn out?
I’m born and raised in Wisconsin, so I gotta cheer on the state school. The Badgers have been inconsistent this year, but if Bucky’s QB plays smart and Taylor holds on to the ball, they’ve always got a chance. Gophers haven’t grabbed that Axe in a while, but this year might be different, who knows. Always tough playing at Camp Randall, though. We’ll see what happens.
Is your beer distributed ONLY IN WISCONSIN?
It’s on all of our imagery, bottles, point of sale, so you bet. We’re employee-owned, sold only in Wisconsin, and plan to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Sorry, Minnesota. (Writer’s note: Yeah! In your FACE, uh, me, I guess.)
Do you offer tours of the brewery?
We do—they are self-guided. Brewery is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12–5 p.m. on Sundays. We also offer a Friday-only “hard hat” tour, which is $20 and must be reserved in advance. Come visit, we’re only 20 minutes southwest of Madison.
Which of your beers should Badgers fans drink before/after the game while tailgating?
Drink what you like, first and foremost. Don’t let anyone else tell you what to drink, or what’s good/what’s bad. If you’re a Spotted Cow lover, drink that. Want a malty brew? Fat Squirrel brown ale cans were just released after a three-year hiatus for that brand. We honestly offer something for every drinker. If I’m tailgating, I’m bringing Moon Man cans.
What do you listen to while out selling your beer?
Depends on my mood at the time. I listen to anything but new country, so on any given day I could shuffle between Odesza, Queens of the Stone Age, Sturgill Simpson, and A Tribe Called Quest and be fine with it.
Why is beer important to you?
Beer is a community-driven, social drink. It brings friends, family, and total strangers together for a common goal of having a great time, forgetting the troubles of the world, and escaping for a brief moment to appreciate someone’s hard labor. Raising a glass of a beautiful brew is a cathartic experience, and I know that seems a bit hyperbolic, but really being able to appreciate a well-made beer in a perfect setting is a gift. Anyways, go Badgers!