Skip to Content

What Kind Of Beer Is Spotted Cow Exactly? (Detailed Explanation)

Wisconsinites are absolutely going to love this one! Spotted Cow is one of the best-selling beers in the state, and for a simple reason – it’s good. Very good. Despite the sole distribution of the beer in Wisconsin, the beer has caught the eyes of many around the country. Unfortunately, many don’t know what kind of beer it is – let’s change that with this quick answer.

Spotted Cow is best classified as a cream ale because of its moderate bitterness (IBU of 18-20), high carbonization, pale to gold color (SRM of 4.8), the standard alcohol content of 4.8-5.1%, and Spotted Cow being top-fermented rather than bottom-fermented.

Above is the best summary you will get of the kind of beer spotted Cow is. However, there’s far more to it. This article will examine the classification of spotted Cow as a cream ale, fully exploring the factors that have informed this choice. Furthermore, we will discuss the adjuncts in the beer and take a brief survey into its history.

Sit back and read on!

Is Spotted Cow A Lager Or Ale?

The very first step in classifying any beer is knowing whether it is an ale or a lager.

The primary difference between the two classes is the fermentation technique employed during manufacturing. Beers can be brewed using either the top-fermentation or bottom-fermentation technique.

Ales are beers that are brewed using a special type of top-fermenting yeast, known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This is done at warm temperatures (60˚–70˚F). The other broad class, lagers, are brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast called Saccharomyces pastorianus. This is done at cold temperatures (35˚–50˚F).

Since Spotted Cow is fermented with top-fermenting yeast at warm temperatures, it is an ale. Now that this is out of the way, the beer can be classified under the several different types of ales available today. This ushers us into the next section.

What Kind of Ale Is Spotted Cow?

In the journey of completely categorizing a beer, classifying it as an ale or lager is the easy part. All you need to know is the fermentation technique used when manufacturing the beer. In the case of Spotted Cow, it is top-fermentation.

When it comes to sub-classifying the beer under the different ales types, you need to assess several factors and guidelines. We will use the standard guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program, which is one of the most reputable beer certification organizations worldwide.

In line with the standard guidelines, Spotted Cow can be classified as a cream ale. This choice is because the beer meets the necessary requirements for cream ales.

Enjoy drinking Spotted Cow? Here are 10 other beers that you should try!

Let’s take a deep look into these requirements, then, shall we?!

Why Is Spotted Cow A Cream Ale?

The Beer Judge Certification Program uses five major properties analyzed when sub-classifying beers. They are bitterness (measured in IBU), color intensity (measured in SRM), original gravity, final gravity, and alcohol by volume of the beer. Let us examine these properties and find out how Spotted Cow compares to the specified values.

For starters, the bitterness of the beer. This is pretty self-explanatory, basically judging how bitter a beer is. The metric used for measuring bitterness is the International Bitterness Unit or IBU. The higher the IBU of a beer, the more bitter it is.

The Beer Judge Certification Program states that cream ales have an IBU between 15 and 20. Spotted Cow, the beer under review, has an estimated IBU of 18. This means the beer meets the IBU requirements for cream ales.

Factor number 2 is the color intensity of the beer. This property is measured using the Standard Reference Method (SRM). As with IBU, the color intensity or darkness of a beer increases with increasing SRM.

According to the standard guidelines, cream ales have an SRM between 2.5 and 5. Spotted Cow has an estimated SRM of 4.8, meaning it conforms to the desired SRM standards for cream ales. Practically, Spotted Cow appears golden or pale straw.

Furthermore, the gravities of the beer are critical in sub-classifying it. Here, the two important gravities are original and final gravity – OG and FG, respectively. The gravity of a beer helps brewers ascertain the alcohol content of the beer before and after fermentation.

The original gravity of the beer measures the sugar content in the wort before alcoholic fermentation has started to produce beer. The Beer Judge Certification Program specifies an original gravity between 1.042 and 1.055 for cream ales. Spotted Cow has an OG around 1.054, which just falls within the desired range.

Final gravity (FG) measures how many unfermentable sugars are present in the beer after the end of the fermentation process. Cream ales should have a final gravity between 1.006 and 1.012. Spotted Cow has an estimated final gravity of 1.011, meeting the gravity specifications for cream ales.

The last and most straightforward of the factors used in sub-classifying beer is the alcohol content of the beer, measured in alcohol by volume (ABV). This value states the amount of alcohol in a beer.

Cream ales have an ABV of 4.2 – 5.6%. Spotted Cow has an ABV of 4.8 – 5.1%, which passes the alcohol content test for cream ales.

After considering all of these, it makes perfect sense that Spotted Cow is classified as a cream ale, as it meets all the standard requirements for cream ales.

Curious to find out what we think about this beer? Here is our detailed review.

Does The Use Of Wheat Adjunct Change How the Beer Is Classified?

Adjuncts are usually added to increase the brew capacity when manufacturing beer. There are different types of adjuncts used in beers, and their use affects the classification of the beer. While lagers generally use rice and corn as adjuncts, ales predominantly use wheat.

Unsurprisingly then, New Glarus Brewing – the manufacturers of Spotted Cow – has maintained that it does not use corn syrups at all in its beers. The avoidance of corn and rice is vital to the beer meeting the German Purity Law standards.

However, while brewmasters do not use corn syrup brewing Spotted Cow, they use malted wheat in addition to malted barley.

Has Spotted Cow Always Been A Cream Ale?

Spotted Cow is New Glarus Brewing’s best-selling beer. And not just for the company now, as the beer is one of the best-selling in the whole of Wisconsin. Why just Wisconsin, though? Well, because New Glarus Brewing limits distribution to Wisconsin. This is despite the increasing popularity of the beer across the country.

The beer indeed started as a cream ale back in Wisconsin in 1997. There’s an interesting side note here, though. Many experts close to the Brewery refer to the beer as farmhouse or cask-conditioned ale rather than cream ale. Nevertheless, this beer solidly meets the standard requirements of a cream ale. Any differences in naming are likely due to trivial technicalities.