The news that leaked out of New Glarus Brewing back in May was pretty exciting: A peach sour brown ale would drop this summer.
I love peaches, so this was going to be a gimme anyway, but it also bore interest because it shared the profile of one of the most legendary beers ever to come out of New Glarus.
A brewery-only release on Great Taste of the Midwest weekend in 2014, R&D Wild Peach became a huge hit among beer geeks, surpassed only in buzz (and value on the secondary market) by Very Sour Blackberry, a fruited gueuze released in 2013. (A single bottle of VSB sold for $600 back in 2017, according to BeerBlackBook.com; Wild Peach topped out at $110.)
I remember my sips of Wild Peach fondly — a tapestry of wild yeast’s barnyard and leather notes meeting the bright, sweet fruit with a subtle underlying wood character, too. So the notion that this beer — or something like it — could be available at nearly every bottle shop in the state this summer was pretty exciting.
But Lots O’ Peach 21, which arrived on local shelves in late June, unfortunately is not Wild Peach. Its analogue is not the more intensely wild beers of the brewery-only R&D releases — which have been on hold since fall 2019 — but the fruit beers that New Glarus shuffles into its regular lineup: Belgian Red, Raspberry Tart and Serendipity.
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Yes, that was disappointing to discover, but the good news is these are very good beers.
And they are very sweet beers, too — a defining characteristic for many of New Glarus’ sour ales, including last year’s Nectar Ale, the 2018 iteration of Wild Sour Ale and recent versions of Strawberry Rhubarb.
It’s hard to say if these beers are getting sweeter without tasting notes that I don’t have, but my impression is that they are, and New Glarus’ sour program generally is, too.
And the latest from Wisconsin’s most distinguished craft brewery is not going to change that notion.
Lots O’ Peach 21
Style: Sour brown ale
Brewed by: New Glarus Brewing
What it’s like: It’s not quite a 1:1, but Lots O’ Peach sure drinks like New Glarus’ Belgian Red, but with peaches instead of cherries.
Booze factor: New Glarus does not publish ABVs on its beers — a pet peeve of mine and many beer people — but nearly all of its fruited sours are around 4% to 4.5%.
Up close: Lots O’ Peach pours a ruddy deep amber-brown with amber highlights — not an ugly beer, but certainly lacking the wow factor of its cousins dosed with red fruits. The nose is candy-sweet, the ripe peach aroma tumbling forth like peaches from an upturned basket. That’s an appropriate preamble to the taste, which is a sledgehammer of peachy, sugary sweetness. It’s moderately sour, too, which plays into the profile resembling those peach gummy ring candies. There are a few other things going on here — a hint of funk and an earthy finish — but those nuances are washed away by the liquid candy tidal wave. Some early takes on this beer have described it as “syrupy,” but despite its sweetness, Lots O’ Peach’s body is light enough that I don’t think that’s apt. Is it cloying, though? Definitely. This is a dessert beer — and one I’d only recommend if you really like your peaches or you’ve got a sweet tooth. (I’m guilty on both counts.)
Bottom line: 3½ stars (out of 5)
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