Spotted Cow is legendary in Wisconsin. The cream ale has become synonymous with its home state, but here’s a poorly kept secret among Badger Staters: Spotted Cow is not New Glarus’ best regular beer. Not even close.
No, that honor goes to Moon Man, the “no coast pale ale” New Glarus launched in 2010 to complement its year-round lineup. Named for a calico cat that once belonged to one of the Wisconsin brewery’s employees, this fruity session ale is a completely different animal.
Bronze and crystal clear, this is a paragon of in-the-glass allure. The oat-colored head grips the glass and never lets go. There’s nothing more to say except that every beer should look like Moon Man.
New Glarus describes Moon Man as “bold and engaging without pretense,” and what a classic Midwestern undersell that is. Moon Man launches out of the bottle with a face-slapping burst of apricot and lemon curd. After that initial shock, Moon Man apologizes with a soft undercurrent of pine. So nice you just wanna drink it down.
Moon Man should be nationally recognized as one of the best pale ales in existence.”
The whole “no coast” thing comes to life in the flavor. As with the aroma, a fat wave of citrus hits your tongue first. New England fans get the grapefruit and mandarin orange they’re addicted to, and California loyalists get the resinous bitterness they prize above all else. A little bit of Midwest-grown malt rounds out the party with an even-keeled dose of honeyed malt.
Not to disparage the good name of Spotted Cow, but New Glarus routinely does better. Moon Man should be nationally recognized as one of the best pale ales in existence. It should be a gameday go-to for anyone who wants something flavorful and bingeable. And yet, like Spotted Cow, this is a joy you can only get somewhere between Milwaukee and the St. Croix River. Stock up next time you’re in Badger territory, and teach your friends what the Cheeseheads already know.