Thumbprint Spiced Ale | New Glarus Brewing Company

very good
45 Reviews
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Thumbprint Spiced AleThumbprint Spiced Ale

Brewed by:
New Glarus Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our heady Spiced Ale summons escape from the ordinary. Lavish English and Wisconsin Malts slow brewed caramel goodness into this beefy bronze Strong Ale registering 20 degrees Plato O.G. Aged on Oak in the Open Top Cellar so that Cassia Cinnamon, Ginger and Allspice could be carefully hand stirred into the velvety Toffee notes of this aromatic Spiced Ale. 100% Naturally Bottle fermented to warm the chill from your soul.

Added by Ri0 on 01-10-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 254
Photo of GeezLynn
4.01/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Clear shade of bronze with a short-lived goopy white head.
S: Pretty sweet, with apples, oak and grassy hops standing out.
T: Wow, very strange. Opens fruity and sweet with some caramel followed by an amalgamation of spices……..ginger and cinnamon being the only ones I can positively identify. Seems like they used a Belgian yeast. Oak rounds it out and ties things together nicely.
M: Light bodied with ample carbonation. No complaints here.

I liked this more than I expected to, given the style. This is nice for a slow sipper, though one would probably be my limit.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.32/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tall New Glarus Signature Pilsner Glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and fairly hazy amber orange with a lot of rising bubbles. Big three finger off white head with decent retention. Leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

Smell: A very spicy and fruity malt forward aroma with big hints of winter spices and oak. Huge upfront mix of winter type spices with hints of cinnamon, clove, ginger, allspice, and cardamon. Solid barrel presence with hints of oak, wood, and vanilla. Toasted malts with hints of sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, and yeast. Sweet scent of brown sugar. Fruit hints of banana, raisin, and fig. Hops are pretty light. A very solid spicy aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a very spicy, woody, and fruity malt forward taste with big notes of winter spices, oak, and malt. Big upfront taste of winter spices with notes of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, and cardamon. Good oak aged presence with notes of oak, wood, and sweet vanilla. Toasted malt with notes of toffee, caramel, biscuit, grains, and yeast. Solid fruit taste of bananas as well as some fig and raisin. Sweet notes of brown sugar. Light hops in the background. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very spicy and somewhat chewy. Finishes dry. A little heat is felt but things are still smooth.

Overall: A very good spicy brew. Good mix of winter spices with a nice kick of oak and some Belgian like fruit undertones.

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Photo of Jparker37
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into an oversized tulip.

A - Brilliant clarity to the copper beer. Tall off-white head. Spotty lacing.

S - Big clove notes are the most evident, cinnamon. Cherry cough drops. Banana runts. Phenolic.

T - Toasty malts are crammed underneath phenolic yeasty flavors. Comes across here even more like cherry cough drops. Shows sweetness the whole way but has a bit of bitterness. Finishes relatively clean after all the yeast flavors throughout. Shows a breath of alcohol.

M - Medium-full body, medium-high carbonation, semi-sweet.

O - Reminiscent of many dubbels with an obvious cinnamon spice. Tons of character, fresh and bright. Seems that the yeast is so definitive that it drowns out some malt and spice.

Recommendation - Truly unique and worth a try as with almost every thumbprint beer release.

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Photo of scaliasux
3.51/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Medium amber-brown. Hazy. Fairly tall, sudsy, off-white head. Good retention.

Smell - Rich medium-roasted malts. Sweet dark fruit and toffee. A little spiciness - I'm getting mostly ginger - but not especially prominent.

Taste - Rich sweet malts. Mainly toffee and raisin. Spice is more evident in the taste than the aroma. Ginger, again, comes through most prominently, but cinnemon and allspice are also evident. Alcohol seems a little over-prominent. A little cloying. Not sure all the flavors quite work together.

Mouthfeel - Full, creamy, and warming.

Overall - I liked everything about this beer but the flavor. The flavors didn't seem to work as well together as was perhaps envisioned - or maybe it's just not my thing.

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Photo of TheBeer
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I don't have many spiced ales to compare this to, but the others that I did try ended up with the beer gods. Not my favorite style by any means, nor will it probably ever be. However, this is a manageable spiced ale to consume.
A- Looks very similarly to a lager with a small head that persists throughout the beer.
S- Holy smell. Smells like the best foreign dessert your mother could possibly make...and then mixed with beer!
T- Again, not very fond of this style in general. It seems as though the spices added outweigh the profile of the hops and malts present in the beer. For me this is a very weird concoction that sounds good in theory but doesn't deliver in product.
M- Very lasting mouthfeel to the beer. Equatable to a very heavy lager in mouthfeel.
O- Maybe if it was Christmas and only Christmas, that time of year when the weather is below freezing (to include you non frozen states) and you are desperately searching for something to provide you a bit of warmth, this beer will fulfill its purpose. Otherwise, if you live in southern Texas and seek out this beer, you should think otherwise. This may in fact be the first beer from New Glarus that I will not purchase again based off of my own preferences (and that is saying alot being I have had >90% of their beers)

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Photo of Bowers-Brew
4.27/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Brownish/red - slightly cloudy. Foam head measured ~2 inches when poured aggressively. Lacing is minimal to none.

S - Spice, malt, vanilla, and bourbon. Not as aromatic as would have expected.

T - Sweet, spicy, and tart up front - flash of bitterness in the middle - vanilla bourbon finish - Lots going on with each sip.

M - Thick and creamy - works well with flavor profile.

O - Complex yet drinkable. It's not my favorite New Glarus unplugged, but it's a great change of pace to a lot of the other beer styles I've been drinking as of late. I would pick up another 4-pack if it's still around next time I'm at the brewery. Prost!

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Photo of sonoffenrir
3.06/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Bottle date 358 3 (December 26, 2013).
A: Beautiful ruby red with two fingers of off-white foam. Bubble swirls from the bottom of the glass like a waterspout

S: Nose is of cloves, cardamon and banana bread. Very strong of esters. Thought I had opened a Belgian Strong Ale by mistake.

T: First off, let me say that I'm a HUGE New Glarus fan. I haven't found a New Glarus beer that I wouldn't drink again. Until now. The aroma, although spicy, did not translate to the palate. The taste was almost overwhelmingly one-dimensional, that of banana bread with bitter walnuts. I found absolutely none of the cinnamon that other reviewers found. I used to do coffee tasting for a living, so I have an excellent palate, so from all the other reviews, I expected alot more from this beer, especially a New Glarus Thumbprint. In fact, if I hadn't paid $10.50 for the 4-pack, I would have considered this one a drain pour. I can't remember ever being more disappointed in a brew. If it was only minor issues, I would definitely give it another shot, but it was so disappointing, I doubt I will.

M: Mouthfeel was substantial, with a bit of stickiness. Pretty much what was expected

O: I'm really hoping that I got a bad batch. It was purchased from my usual store, so I'm going to discount the fact that it was mishandled, being less than 100 miles from the brewery, and the distributor being beyond reproach.

Update: I wanted to give this beer the benefit of the doubt, so I picked up another 4-pack. In the meantime, I found an article that included an interview with New Glarus's brewmaster, Dan Carey. He stated that what he was going for, with this Thumbprint, was a beer that tasted like a Wisconsin icon, the brandy old fashioned, with the taste of the bitters and the sweetness of the brandy. In this case, he hit the nail right on the head. Not being an Old Fashioned drinker, I completely missed it. Now that I know what the end result was supposed to be, he nailed it. Kudos to New Glarus, This had to be tough one to nail. It just goes to show the expertise that Dan and his wife must have.

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Photo of KFBR392
4.29/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours with a finger and a half of head which settles to about half a finger while drinking. Sticky lacing left behind at each level. Low to medium amount of active carbonation. Color is a clear ruby red color with some accents of brown.

Smell: Spice loaded front of moss, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, and ginger. Slight pinch of alcohol burn in the body. Detectable malt body which adds tones of vanilla, caramel, and molasses.

Taste: Spices lead up front but certainly not in an overpowering fashion. A splash of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon hit the palate then yield to a rounded malty body with accents of caramel and vanilla. The malt body continues to ride into the finish where the spiced tones pop their head up again leaving the palate with a light dryness.

Mouthfeel: Extremely drinkable for the style. Nice transitions of dry spices and rich malt keep the palate wanting more.

Overall: Spiced ale more then any other style in my opinion seem to have the most wild variations due to the challenges of finding balance with all the ingredients. Leave it to New Glarus to create the front runner in the style in my opinion. Balance is key here and leads to a simply wonderful brew. For most drinkers this isn't a style many seek out, myself included, but this brew is simply fantastic.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with red foil-ed over green/gold branded pry-off pressure cap acquired in a trade with my long-time trade partner Duff27 and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Austin, TX. Expectations are sky-high given the brewery, whose work I love. Reviewed live. Reviewed as a spiced ale because the label and name identify it clearly as such.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a 1.5 finger wide head of white colour. Decent thickness and creaminess. Okay complexion. Okay consistency. Head retention is quite good - about 8+ minutes. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of above average vibrance. No yeast particles/sediment is visible; it's quite clean. Good clarity.

Overall, it's a pretty good looking beer that I'm excited to try. While not unique or special, it doesn't have any overt flaws.

Sm: I'm immediately assaulted by spices and herbs. Ginger, mint, evergreen, spruce, coriander, and allspice are the most prominent. I have trouble finding any cinnamon. There's also plenty of honey, light oak wood, pale malts, clean barley, and English malts. The spruce/evergreen/oak/wood notes are easily the highlight here. I also pick up some light bready notes - banana bread? Hopwise, I get some vague fruity and floral character which works well with the malts. It's got just about the perfect amount of residual sugars based on the aroma.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

A very inviting and pleasant aroma of above average strength. Surprisingly, it's more herbal than spicy.

T: Oh wow. Fantastic balance. The spices and herbs (all mentioned above) work fantastically with the honey and English malt base. The subtle floral hop character plays well with the malts. The woody (spruce/oak/evergreen) notes aren't as prominent here as they are in the aroma, but damn do they work well. I'm not finding the cinnamon here, but I do pick up on some caramel as well as the ginger and allspice. Maybe coriander too. The aroma evoked banana bread but I can't find it here.

The balance is incredible. The build is extremely cohesive, but not quite gestalt. It incorporates a ton of complex flavours and nuances, and is pretty intricate for a spiced ale. Above average depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour. There's a lot of flavour here and all of the notes work together to form an impressive and enjoyable whole. I'm really liking this beer.

I will say that it has some American malts that dilute its otherwise English character - and however it's accomplishing that, I like it. I can't tell what kind of malts they used, but the malt selection is damn near perfect.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Perfectly carbonated. Great body and thickness. It's got an ideal weight on the palate for the flavour profile. In fact, I'd say this texture feels custom-tailored to the taste. While not perfect, it's a damn good complement to the flavour profile and helps coax out the nuances of the taste. Great presence on the palate. It has a nice softness.

Not astringent, gushed, oily, hot, or boozy.

Dr: More great work from New Glarus. Easily the best spiced beer I've had in recent memory. I'd easily recommend this to friends and trade partners and I'd absolutely get it again - preferably by the 6 pack. It's a fantastic brew for almost any season and I can't see why anyone would dislike it. I'm really glad I got to try this, so huge thanks to Duff27. Just a damn solid brew from one of the best institutions in the business. The thumbprint series continues to blow me away.

To nitpick, more of an oak presence would really round out this beer.

High B

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Photo of JerUrbans
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Nice bubbly amber color with 1" puffy white head with big bubbles. Smells great, like cinnamon, and banana bread. Taste is good and really reminds me of banana bread. The spices are right on nothing over powering just blend really well. Mouthfeel is bubbly and light with some bitter at the end.

Overall one of the best spiced beers I've had, and I will really enjoy this 4 pack.

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Photo of Fcolle2
3.64/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber in color with some slight hues of red and a this white frothy that has decent retention.

Smell is good. Somewhat sweet smelling bready malt with cracker like characters also coming through. A big aroma of pumpkin and nutmeg follows. Some lighter spices come through such as clove cinnamon and cardamon.

Taste has a much bigger spice forward flavor then the nose. Big flavors of clove nutmeg and cinnamon dominate the front have of the brew, some lighter pumpkin flavor settles near the middle of the sip while a sweet cracker malt finishes with a good amount of booze on the exhale.

Mouthfeel is good medium bodied with a hefty amount of carbonation. This keeps it drinkable yet still a great winter sipping brew.

Overall this was a little disappointing but in its defense it's got a lot to live up to being part of the thumbprint series. Spices seemed a little unbalanced and sharp to me but I am no lover of spices to begin with. Everything else I enjoyed.

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Photo of bound4er
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A. Nice looking faint orange/crimson/amber appearance with a long lasting two finger white head. Gives off a lot of carbonation bubbles.

S. Lots of baking spice - reminds me of something you'd serve around Christmas time. Ginger, clove, caramel, banana, bready malt. Pretty nice.

T. Falls a bit short in the taste department - ginger, clove and a hint of cherry carry over to the palate. Has a slight hop bite on the back end to keep the sweetness in check. Interesting flavors for a beer.

M. Nice feel to this beer - medium to medium plus body and good creaminess.

O. This is a well made beer but doesn't excite me from a taste standpoint. Worth a try - your mileage may vary.

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Photo of Etan
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz into a snifter.

A: Pours a clearish reddish brown with a nice off-white head.

S: Definite cinnamon and nutmeg in the nose, a bit buttery, hint of red fruitiness.

T: Taste brings nutmeg, brown bread, lightly astringent spice, hint of green apple.

M: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: A nice spiced ale in the vein of pumpkin ales/winter warmers.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.08/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks Jan2! Enjoyed from a new glarus flute.

a - brew poured an amber brown. Great champagne like carbonation with a nice full bubbly head and streaky lacing.

s - nose is odd. Clove, banana, sugar, vedgies and white spicing.

t - much like the nose the tadte is odd. Leads with ginger. Very vedgie with some banana wheat sugar clove toffee and a hint of toastedness like an amber ale with some earthiness.

m - a bit prickly and heavy handed on the sweet

o - overall a tickers gonna tick but is isnt anything i would want more than a bottle of.

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Photo of elmore
3.89/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass. Purchased from Metcalfes in Madison, WI yesterday.

Deep redish brown color and slightly opaque. Thick head that receded in a moderate amount of time. Minimal lacing after the initial pour.

Getting over a cold, so my olfactory sense is limited. Smells like winter in the Midwest should. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves. Kind of like a good spiced cider only not as overpowering.

Flavors are subtle for a spiced beer. Nicely balanced. Not cloying like some spiced beers. Alcohol is hidden well.

Light mouthfeel. Carbonation is moderate.

Overall very good for a spiced winter type of beer, which I'm not a big fan of in general. Kept a sweetness to a minimum, which I appreciate in this style.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle from the Jan-Feb 2014 Thumbprint release. Poured into a New Glarus pilsner glass today, 1/21/2014 as a post-workout beer.

App- clear, light brown mahogany body. Thick, fluffy tan head that recedes in just the right amount of time allowing the pour to continue. Lots of lacing.

Smell- Spices- clove, ginger and nutmeg, faint cinnamon. Bubblegum. Toffee, caramel sweetness.

Flavour- Bubblegum, cloves, toffee, caramel, some warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel- lighter-medium body, good carbonation, crisp and drying. Alcohol is apparent on the backend, supplemented by the spices that linger.

Overall- not Dan's best creation; I actually like Winter Warmer better. The finish detracts a lot for me, with the alcohol heat mixed in with the spices.

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Photo of TheSSG
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a huge, dense head with good persistence. There is a strange yeasty/spicey aroma that reminds me of bubblegum and spices at the same time. Amber-sienna color. Starts off with an assertive spiciness and some bitterness. Malt BURSTS THROUGH to make this into DELICIOUS Christmas cookies, then the spice dominates into the finish.

I REALLY wanted to hate this one. Spiced biers are so hit-or-miss, and I DESPISE ginger. But, New Glarus does no wrong, and this is fantastic. I may get a second 4-pack of this. It's fantastic.

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Photo of don1481
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into Ol' Trusty Pint Glass

Appearance: Pours a deep amber color with a lot of white-ish foam. Lots and lots of bubbles flowing up in this one.

Smell: If King Kong wanted a beer, this would be right up his alley. VERY strong banana notes. Some cinnamon comes through and a hint of the ginger as well. Subtly spicy smelling. Pretty complex.

Taste: Huh. That's... different. VERY yeasty, bready, with the cinnamon and ginger definitely shining through. Can't quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be more to it. Not toffee, not caramel. AHA - that's the spice notes. Not bad at all.

Mouthfeel: For something this bold-tasting, it's pretty crisp and clean in the mouth. Good amount of carbonation, but not so much that it's like drinking seltzer water. Well-balanced and some of the spice notes linger.

Overall: This is... different, for sure. Dan Carey has done it again - creating a beer that doesn't fit into the usual categories that you have to have more than one of to really get a true feel for. I'll always buy at least one 4 pack of each Thumbprint that comes out because this is what it's all about.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This pours a golden amber color with a foamy, off-white head. The aroma has hints of coriander, banana, citrus, and other spices in the mix. The taste is smooth and clean with mild tastes of banana and spices that are very well blended. Finishes crisp and clean that is rather tasty and well made!

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Photo of Ri0
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

poured 12oz bottle into Duvel tulip. Was probably bottle a week ago.

A - Bright dark red/bronze color that is semi clear with a dirty white 2 finger head. Thick collar and lacing.

S - There is so much going on in my glass. Yeast, cinnamon, all spice, ginger, caramel, toffee, light wood, banana bread.

T - It is sweet with some yeast up front. It gets pretty complex with sweet cinnamon toast, banana bread, and all spice. Chewy caramel and waves of thick toffee shine, with some oak on the finish.

M - Medium bodied with perfect carbonation. Many of the spices linger on the palate.

O - I'm not a lover of spiced ale, but this was pretty good. My guess is that if you enjoy pumpkin or holiday spiced style beer (I don't) you will want to try this beer. Always fun to try a new Dan Cary creation.

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Thumbprint Spiced Ale from New Glarus Brewing Company
3.8 out of 5 based on 254 ratings.
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