Explained: Why New Glarus beer is only sold in Wisconsin (2024)

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New Glarus — the beer dubbed as “only in Wisconsin” — has a cult following. Some people to go extraordinary lengths to get it. The Chicago Cubs *smuggled* it across the border after a series in Milwaukee. The brew has been sold in the Badger State for the past 28 years + is in the fridge of most Wisconsin homes. But why all the hype?

Let’s take a look at the history, and why the beer is only sold in Wisconsin.

Explained: Why New Glarus beer is only sold in Wisconsin (1)

The origin story: First released in 1993, Edel Pils and Wisconsin Belgian Red were the original beers of New Glarus Brewing. The brewery didn’t start to gain its iconic status until the 1997 launch of Spotted Cow. Over the years, New Glarus has received awards + accolades for its famous beers. The brewery was named one of 2018’s Top 50 US craft breweries by the Brewers Association. Its Spotted Cow was awarded Best Drink in Wisconsin in 2009 by Bon Appetit.

The recipe: Spotted Cow — arguably the most iconic of the beers — is a “traditional farmhouse ale, hand-crafted and unfiltered with complex flavors.” The best-selling draft beer in the state accounts for 40% of all the beer the brewery makes each year — about 45,000 barrels. While the name is utterly appropriate for Wisconsin, it was inspired by a sheep on a trip to England. Founder Deb Carey was reminded of Holstein cows and thought it would be funny to have a beer named after the animal.

Why Wisconsin: At one point in time, Spotted Cow beer was sold in Illinois. The small brewery struggled to keep up demand in both states + pulled back distribution to make sure locals had plenty in stock. But don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal to take it to friends and family in other states — just don’t sell it.

Explained: Why New Glarus beer is only sold in Wisconsin (2024)

FAQs

Explained: Why New Glarus beer is only sold in Wisconsin? ›

Q: Where can I get your beer? Wisconsin! Sorry about the limited distribution, non-Wisconsinites. There are only so many hours in the day to make beer and we can only keep up with the local demand.

Why is new Glarus beer only sold in Wisconsin? ›

New Glarus brewing employs about 90 people today. The brewery made the choice to pull out of Illinois sales effective 2003 leading to the sale of New Glarus beer 'Only In Wisconsin' today. The move was made due to insufficient capacity to fill both Wisconsin and Illinois markets.

Why is it illegal to sell spotted cows outside of Wisconsin? ›

Spotted Cow is described by its makers as a “traditional farmhouse ale, hand-crafted and unfiltered with complex flavors.” The owners say they don't want — or need — to deal with the byzantine tax and distribution systems that come with selling their beer outside their home state.

Can you only buy New Glarus in Wisconsin? ›

A tempting and graceful classic lager found…Only in Wisconsin! Sold in 12pk Cans and 6 pk Bottles, 24pk Bottles.

Is it illegal to take New Glarus beer out of Wisconsin? ›

As someone who frequently transports New Glarus products across statelines to friends and family in Minnesota, I can tell that it is not illegal to bring your Spotted Cow, Totally Naked and Moon Man into other states; it is, however, illegal to sell it outside of Wisconsin.

Why isn't spotted cow sold outside Wisconsin? ›

Why Wisconsin: At one point in time, Spotted Cow beer was sold in Illinois. The small brewery struggled to keep up demand in both states + pulled back distribution to make sure locals had plenty in stock. But don't worry, it's perfectly legal to take it to friends and family in other states — just don't sell it.

Is New Glarus brewery being sued? ›

Appeals court upholds dismissal of investor lawsuit against New Glarus Brewing. A Wisconsin appeals court has upheld a lower courts rejection of an investor lawsuit against New Glarus Brewing Co. and its majority shareholder, founder and CEO Deb Carey, that could have forced a sale of the brewery.

Can I bring a spotted cow out of Wisconsin? ›

The brewery does not distribute any of its beer, including Spotted Cow, out of state. Nor does New Glarus Brewing ship its beer. You can buy Spotted Cow in Wisconsin and take it out of state for personal consumption or to share, provided you're not selling it to anyone.

Can highland cows live in Wisconsin? ›

Having evolved and adapted to the conditions of their native Scotland, they are naturally suited to the climate here in Wisconsin. They do well on hay and other marginal forage such as wooded areas, etc. 100% of their nutritional needs are met by grass or hay and simple mineral supplements.

In what states can you buy spotted cow beer? ›

A question we see all the time from our fans is “Where can I buy Spotted Cow outside of Wisconin? “ It seems to be fairly well-known fact that Spotted Cow isn't distributed to any stores outside Wisconsin state lines.

Is the New Glarus logo a fingerprint? ›

New Glarus Brewing's bottles have been crowned with a cap depicting a fingerprint in the outline of Wisconsin since 1998.

What does new Glarus beer taste like? ›

Suffice to say, the overview is citrus and floral with soft piney tones, yet very much it's own personality. 1st Taste: I am a huge fan of New Glarus so I want to choose my words carefully. The taste is crisp and clean, and there's a perfect balance of malt and hops. Some low level honey, malt sweetness.

Does New Glarus have a dark beer? ›

New Glarus Black Top took home the GABF's first ever Black IPA Gold! The new category resolved any confusion over this assertively hoppy jet black ale. Cruise the Black Top on a ride of Black IPA discovery and experience exactly what Black IPAs are brewed to be.

Can a passenger drink alcohol in Wisconsin? ›

No, you cannot have an opened container on your person in a motor vehicle on a public highway. Containers of alcoholic beverages with the seal broken must be transported in the trunk, or in a portion of the vehicle not normally occupied by passengers if the vehicle does not have a trunk.

Are bartenders allowed to drink in Wisconsin? ›

Wisconsin. Bartenders in Wisconsin have traditionally been permitted to consume alcohol while working. However, it's worth noting that this practice may vary depending on local ordinances and workplace policies.

Are dogs allowed at New Glarus brewery? ›

Service dogs are allowed inside the brewery and all other pets are welcome outside in our beer garden with a leash. Hard Hat Tours Tours are only offered on Fridays at 1:00 PM CST (excluding National Holidays.)

Can you buy spotted cow beer outside of Wisconsin? ›

Can you buy Spotted Cow outside of Wisconsin? No. Since 2003, New Glarus Brewing has been true to its "Only in Wisconsin" tagline. The brewery does not distribute any of its beer, including Spotted Cow, out of state.

Why is spotted cow not sold in Illinois? ›

The reason for this decision is simple - the Careys wanted to focus on their home state and ensure that Wisconsin locals had plenty of stock. With a small production capacity, the brewery couldn't keep up with demand in multiple states.

Is spotted cow illegal in Minnesota? ›

Spotted Cow is made by a New Glarus, Wis., brewer, and it is illegal to sell it in Minnesota.

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