The New Glarus Brewing Company was founded in 1993 by Deborah Carey as a gift for her husband, Daniel. Before starting the New Glarus Brewing Company, Dan Carey was an experienced diploma master brewer with Anheuser-Busch. The brewery began in an abandoned warehouse with used brewpub equipment. In 1997, Dan Carey acquired the copper kettles from a brewery in Germany that was slated to be demolished. When the retiring German brewmaster learned that his kettles could be repurposed, he sold all of his equipment worth an estimated value of $1 million to the Careys for its scrap value of just over $24,000 US. New Glarus Brewing Company brewed its first beer in October of that year and began selling its product in December.
New Glarus Brewing Company brews five beers that are available year-round. In addition, the company produces seven seasonal varieties, including a winter Coffee Stout, lighter summer offerings like Dancing Man Wheat, and a fall Staghorn Oktoberfest. “Thumbprint Series” beers are released at the brewer’s discretion (usually 4 times per year). These are limited-release brews by owner/brewmaster Dan Carey. There are also limited brewery only releases called the “R&D Series” sold in 500 ml. bottles. Some of their beers have rather unusual names, like Stone Soup, and Pumpkin Pie Lust. New Glarus was named one of the World’s Ten Best Breweries of 1995 and 1999.
New Glarus beers are distributed exclusively in Wisconsin by 17 independent wholesalers. Many grocery and convenience stores in Wisconsin carry Spotted Cow and a few other varieties, and many Wisconsin bars have Spotted Cow on tap. Wisconsin Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart are available only in 750 mL bottles and quarter-barrels (29.3 L); the remaining brews are sold in standard 12-fl oz (U.S.) bottles, in six- and four-packs or cases, and in quarter- and half-barrels. From 1998 to 2002, the company’s brews were also sold in Illinois, with a majority of its sales in greater Chicago. New Glarus actually pulled Spotted Cow from Illinois shelves in 2002 because the company was struggling to meet demand for it in Wisconsin.
The design of the logo and bottle cap – few designs have become as instantly recognizable as New Glarus Brewing Co.’s Wisconsin thumbprint cap. In an age where thumbprints are used to unlock smartphones and pay for goods, few fingerprints are as publicly out there as New Glarus Brewing Co. President Deb Carey’s. Carey created the design between giving brewery tours. She marked up her thumb with ink, pressed it out on paper and blew it up on a photo copier. The design has been on the cap of New Glarus beers since around 1998.
Only in Wisconsin!