Unplugged Sour Brown Ale | New Glarus Brewing Company

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Unplugged Sour Brown AleUnplugged Sour Brown Ale
86 Ratings
Unplugged Sour Brown AleUnplugged Sour Brown Ale

Brewed by:
New Glarus Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Flanders Oud Bruin

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 86 |  Reviews: 71
Reviews by coldmeat23:
Photo of coldmeat23
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%

More User Reviews:
Photo of DaPeculierDane
1.21/5  rDev -70%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Utter rubbish from my favorite local brewery.

This beer poured beautifully. It got me all excited to try a spectacularly cloudy brown ale from New Glarus’s famous and bold “unplugged” line. I’ve relished every other unplugged beer that I’ve tasted and give 6-packs of New Glarus as a gift whenever visit friends outside of Wisconsin. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New Glarus beers!

But this beer… this one tasted like garbage, and not just any garbage. This beer tasted like my garbage smells after I’ve cleaned out my fridge and thrown a bunch of moldy leftover Mexican food and penicillin covered oranges into the trash bin, which then sits outside my house in the sweltering July sun for two weeks only to have a raccoon crawl in it and die.

Am I trying to say that his beer tasted like rotten Mexican food and oranges?

Yes I am.

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Photo of weatherdog
4.82/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a tulip glass. This beer is about 5 year old and I've been sitting on it for about 3 years. I cracked it open at a recent tasting with Gonzoillini.

It pours a brilliantly clear cherry mahogany red with just a little bit of cream head forming then dissipating.

Lots of leathery, sour, malt sweetness in the nose. There is a moderate amount of vinegar but not overpowering.

This is just a wonderful complex sour beer. It has a fair amount of residual sweetness that pairs wonderfully with the sourness. I'm surprised it isn't too sour considering the age. It has some leathery horsey brett character on the end. To me this is just a perfect tasting beer.

It smooth, perfectly carbonated and just feel great.

This was my last bottle of this excellent beer and I'm really sad to see it go. I first had this beer about 3 years ago and it was my first sour beer. It completely changed my outlook on what beer can be. I'm glad that after all this time it still knocks me off my feet and stands as my favorite beer I've ever had. I really hope this gets brewed again.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.55/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The New Glarus Sour Brown pours from the bottle a cloudy reddish brown with a small tan head that falls to a ring around the glass fairly quickly. A bit murky. Aromas initially of sour cherries and rotten apples with a caramel sweetness. Notes of wood mix with a slight vinegar funkiness. A little more subdued than I was expecting really..but still quite nice.

First sip brings a sweet musty, woody caramel maltiness upfront. Sour cherries, grapes and rotten green apples show up again with a nice acidic tartness that pulls on the side of the mouth. More woody, vinegar flavors follow through on the way down. There's a big battle here between the sweet, syrupy aspect of the beer and the acidic tartness. Definetly a unique, intersting brew here..but the syrupy aspect just takes it down a notch for me.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and with a nice blast of carbonation Goes down smooth and it's actually pretty easy to drink. However, it's not something I could see myself wanting more than one of in a sitting. If you have access to New Glarus I'd give it a try...but I wouldn't tell ya to go out of your way to get it. Thank to kmpitz2 for the opportunity.

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Photo of blitz134
3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thinnish light tan head which disappeared to a thin bubble layer. Body is a cloudy caramel/amber color. Aroma is tart sour apple and other fruit and balsamic vinegar. Not overly complex. Taste is, as expected, a good dose of tartness. Not as much acidic vinegar in the taste. A good overall sour beer profile that is easy to drink. Coats the mouth well but has a thinner character and a decent amount of carbonation. Definately easy to drink.

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Photo of Jason
4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle with a foiled and capped top. No freshness date.

A- Fizzy with a thin ring of lace, hazy reddish brown color.

S- Obvious sour note in the nose, lemon rind and vanilla come to mind.

T&M- Rich tartness up front. Suggestions of pie spice and lemon juice with a biscuity undertone. Liquid pie anyone? A bit slick under the smoothness within the moderate body. Tartness lingers for a good while, ripe fruit and a hint of caramel middle to end. Finishes very dry.

D- Yet an other example that American brewers can make stellar beers. Paired this one with some extra sharp cheddar.

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Photo of badbeer
4.76/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

July 2, 2006
Found some more of this and thought I would give it another chance now that my pallate has experienced many different beers.

Pours a pretty nice copper to brown color with a cream colored head that dissipated but left a ring around the glass and some lacing. Smells of sour and rotten fruit. Seems to have both a cherry and apple twang to it, very nice. Very complex taste with different fruits, there is definately an apple ciderish flavor in here as well, with a lingering sour apple cider finish. Medium amounts of soft carbonation trickles over the tongue paired with a light body. That seemed to be just about right for me. I'm very glad I gave this another try, I will be trying to get more if I can, I find it hard to believe I didn't care for this before.

Original Review:
Reviewing from notes, this was my first of this style of beer, and I wish I could get more to re-review as I believe I would appreciate it much more at this time. Anyways, on to the review. Beer poured an murky brown, with a head that quickly dissipated. Smell was sour and of rotten fruit. Taste is sour, but also has a sweetness to help balance, as well as some buttery tones. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation. At the time of review this was of average drinkability, but I believe I would enjoy this much more now.

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Photo of cokes
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Mud clotted cider color. Wispy, fast-fleeting beige head.
Scented of oak, primarily, then iron-rich blood, brown sugar, mucous, and sweet 'n sour pork.
Enters sweet, with maple and brown sugar laid upon a caramel frosting. A pit-intact, stony cherry notion arises next, followed by traces of vinegar and an overriding yeast-rich breadiness. Peals (and peels) of Gala apples and Bosc pears. Tartness is large, but not searing, with lime and lemon juice and sour pineapple as the ringers. The sour hues turn mistier, more woodsy, on the close, with a defined oak impression, traces of iron, a mélange of body fluids, and dashes of cinnamon.
Bright up front with its carbonation, then it settles into a thickish, stagnant, medium syrup.
This is a fine example from a US brewery, and one that could probably use a bit of maturity to coalesce.
I'll score this leaning somewhat higher than "solid", with a good chance to blossom into something unheard of.

Greatness likely awaits.

This is easily the most promising "Unplugged" since the Eisbock.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Single purchased at Riley's maybe 6 months ago, finally gathered the courage to crack open this wild beast.

Part of a three-part series of intimidatingly sour/funky beers I'm trying along with Duchesse du Bourgogne and Oude Gueuze.

Pours a vibrant ruby red with a short-lived layer of khaki bubbles. First whiff is straight balsamic vinegar, a little off-putting. This subsides with each additional sniff however and allows woody and tart fruity notes to break through. Taste is mouth-puckering, again starting with the balsamic, but pleasantly transitioning into lambic-style super-tart cherries. I didn't really pick up on any of the funkiness others have noted, perhaps the months of resting in my beer fridge mellowed it out. Mouthfeel is smooth and crisp. I must say I was pretty intimidated by the style but was very pleasantly surprised with this one. Tart and refreshing, I couldn't handle more than one or two in a sitting, but would gladly try it again if it weren't all retired and all.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From an aged bottle (which accentuates the caramel tones of the malt due to oxidation): A hazy, crimson-accented chestnut robe is topped by a short head of thin white foam that receeds shortly. The nose is worty-sweet with notes of caramel, honey, and tart apple. It's effervescent in the mouth with a light/medium body. The flavor is rich with a beautiful balance of sweet caramel-accented malt and tart fruit. It's a little fuller in it's maltiness than many other examples, and less complex, but it's quite nice in its own right. A note of honey appears in the finish as the acidity fades, leaving some sticky malt behind. Quite invigorating! Nicely done.

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Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ontap = bottle

12oz single, cellar

it's been about 2.5 years since i first rated this and i've been sitting on a bottle ever since

appearance: pours into an oversized pinot glass....garnet mahogany body, thin beige foam with very little lace

smell: tart cherry (little did i know at the time, this would become a trend), balsamic vinegar, sharp belgian yest, pungent funk all around - similarities to the belgian red/cherry stout/enigma are obvious

taste: flavour profile follows the aromas pretty soundly - big vinegar spike, tart cherrys, oak, faint vanilla, brown sugar and lots of other belgian fun

mouthfeel: tart and smooth

drinkability: fair

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Photo of Photekut
5/5  rDev +23.8%

Photo of Jon
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%

Photo of eliz108
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of CharlesDarwin
3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed September 14, 2005. 12 Oz Bottle. Yellow filmed murky ruby brown pour, with a thin swirling head of off-white. Nice carbonation. Sweet yet astringent lemon sour aroma. Smells "sour" froma distance. Coconut! Strong run of coconut, with a background of pineapple. Like a sour Pina Colada. Not overly sour...very tasty! Very peculiar, not like any other beer that I’ve ever had (how many times have I said that recently). Finishes is wicking and oily coated lingering.

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Photo of bashiba
3.78/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very thick cloudy brown with a mild amount of head.

Smell is a strange mixture of sour and wood smells with a little bit of dark malt smells seeping through.

Has a nice mixture of sweet and sour flavors mixing together with a smooth creamy finish. Has some nice woody oak like notes peaking through the heavy sweet and sour taste.

Mouthfeel has a nice creamy fullness about it.

The drinkability is good, I enjoyed this one, but not something I would drink real often.

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Photo of Bunuelian
4.75/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of shbobdb
4.32/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Holy sweet and sour chicken, Batman! This is a wild brew -- when I first tried it, I remember calling another beer loving friend and saying, "Run, do not walk, to Riley's and buy New Glarus's Sour Brown. It is utterly unlike anything I have ever experienced before." Indeed, at the time it was.
Wow, this is one rotten-ass beer. Notes of balsamic are there, but the overriding feeling is that of decay.
The way I see it, an innocent brown ale was walking down the street one day, minding its own business . . . when Dan the Brewerman came, kidnapped this beer and placed it in his basement slowly killing it over a matter of months before leaving it in a dumpster to rot.
Yet the beer is surprisingly sweet, which balances out the sour, rotten flavour. A truly complex beer, with years and years of trauma to be worked out by your tongue.
Highly recommended to try . . . though I must admit I feel guilty. You see, my friend bought a 4-pack of this stuff. It's good, but I'm not sure I'd want more than two in my lifetime.

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Photo of Beertracker
4/5  rDev -1%

Photo of mjsarch
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My last bottle, poured into a Liefman's tulip glass.

A - 1/4" head settling quickly to a thin rim of foam. No suspended yeast, so very clear. Dark copper to reddish brown color, with active carbonation.

S - Not a whole lot of aroma. I catch a little Brettanomyces and a whiff of vinegar.

T - Lots going on: sour cherry, vinegar, brett, oak, and spice notes.

M - Coats and tingles the tongue. Not a thin beer by any means, but no maltiness or hops.

D - One of the best I've had. Reminds me of a Liefman's Goudenband, though I haven't had that one in years. Wish the Sour Brown would make a reappearance some day.

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Photo of emerge077
4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cellared bottle, 2005 vintage.

The bottle opened without much fanfare, not alot of visible/audible carbonation. In the glass it clearly held some carbonation so that was a good sign. The color was a reddish, russet brown, fairly high clarity. A bare skim appeared initially on the surface, and faded to a string of pearls around the rim. Not much in the way of retention, but again this is 5 years old.

Some light maltiness in the nose, fairly sweet with little in the way of tartness. It has an apple butter note that carries over into the taste. Sweeter flavors of cinnamon, brown sugar, and apple butter meld with a softly acetic cider vinegar component. A sweet/sour mix, that's not especially sour as much as it is pleasantly tart.

With some moderate carbonation present, i'd say this held up quite well, with some fullness to the body. It was easy drinking, especially with the mellow tartness.

This was interesting to revisit, as it's "soul" was present in many New Glarus releases that followed: Enigma, Cherry Stout, Bourbon Barrel Bock, Old English Porter, etc. Hope the barrel program at New Glarus continues indefinitely, they are doing great things...

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Photo of Jredner
4.29/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is vinegar with the oak almost as prominent. Cloudy reddish brown with almost no head. Sour fruits....old overripe oranges (that stands out a lot) and overripe apples, but the effect is very pleasing. The oak is less noticeable in the flavor, but still present. This was much better than I expected from the ratings before me.

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Photo of CRJMellor
2.86/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark claret and bronw color with a very thick ecru colored head
Aroma has some vanilla oak notes, I swore I got cinnamon and some dark wheat bread and chocolate.
Flavors had a distinctly sour malt ball flavor, some vanilla and green caramel apple. No real structure to this brew, sort of all over the place.
Mouthfeel was ordinary, light bodied and very sour (duh !) I just can't grasp the progression that they were trying to work through on this brew.
Drinkability was average at best, beer just doesn't make sense and my first true disappointment from a great brewery.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle split and poured into a La Chouffe tulip. Twist-off cap! This beer is about 5 years old!

Huge thanks to Bnieman for cracking this open to celebrate my engagement! When considering his love for this beer, his supply of it, how long it's aged (5 years retired) I feel very honored to be the recipient of a glass!

A - Dark mahogany brown and crystal clear with bright ruby highlights when held up to the light, SBA pours with a thin but long-lasting light khaki head. No lace though.

S - Hints of vinegar are reminiscent of the Douchesse while notes of soy sauce begin to show it's age, but it doesn't overwhelm the awesome notes hiding in this complex brew. Caramel malts, toasted to perfection, with low hints of molasses and dark cherries. Smells like it's gonna be good!

T - The hints of soy sauce still come through on the flavor profile but are even lighter than the nose. A fantastic light sour tartness pops out subtly with caramel malt hints, amber malts lightly toasted, and dark cherry flavor.

M - Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated with a smooth entry that leads into a subtle and light sourness on the finish. Well-balanced and delicious for being 5 years old. I wish it would be a little bit more sour but I can imagine it would be fresh.

D - It's a sipping beer that's fine split or even consumed alone as a session sour. Very awesome across the board, especially for it's age! I would send out a word of caution to anyone that might have this though. It seems like it's starting to decline with that soy sauce character. You may want to drink 'em sooner rather than later. Thanks again Bryan!

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Photo of aschbren
4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

How could I pass up the opportunity to review one of the rarer styles out there? Sour brown ales are usually a strictly Belgian affair, although several American craft breweries have tried their hand at it as well. Traditionally, the beer is brewed in and around Flanders.

The beer poured a hazy brown color and raised very little head. What head did develop dissipated quickly. There was no carbonation to speak of, as is appropriate for this style of beer.

The nose is pleasantly complex. A bold sourness hits first, followed by apple and orange peel notes. As I drank the beer, I found it to be only ostensibly sour. Yes, it is sour. It evoked the word "bizarre" in one of my friends. But it's a gentle sourness that may require some acclimation. The sourness quickly gives way to a sweet flavor that lingers on the tongue. It carries with it a convincing apple taste, with undertones of a fruit basket. I picked up hints of grapefruit, strawberry, and pineapple.

I'd really like to try this beer with sweet and sour chicken, Chinese restaurant style. The sour-sweet contrast in the beer would mirror the sweet-sour contrast in the dish. And it would do so without the flavors cancelling each other out. Many chicken and pork dishes would also go great with it, especially ones with sauce bontemps. I also think it would be a refreshing partner to apple pie, where the apples in the dessert would really bring up the apples in the beer.

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Unplugged Sour Brown Ale from New Glarus Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.04 out of 5 with 86 ratings