What is Spotted Cow: A Fun, Sweet Beer That’s Perfect for Summer

What is Spotted Cow?

You probably won’t find a Spotted Cow in your local bar. So what is the Spotted Cow?

The Spotted Cow is a sweet, low-alcohol (ABV of 5.1%) cask-conditioned unfiltered farmhouse ale beer with 37g of carbs that isn’t exactly the type of thing you’d order in a dive bar. It also has an amusing name and comes from a rather unexpected place: New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wisconsin which has become a household beer with several awards and recognition.

In the early 2000s, New Glarus Brewing was primarily known for its American-style ales, particularly its flagship lager and Uff-Da (a Scandinavian-inspired lager that is among the brewery’s most popular offerings). Spotted Cow forms two-thirds of the approximately 250,000 barrels brewed by the craft brewery.

However, in 2004 the company released Spotted Cow classified as a cream ale — which would go on to become one of their most well-known products — as part of their new “Farmhouse Series.”

What Is a New Glarus Spotted Cow?

Spotted Cow is a beer that has flavors of oats, barley, and wheat. It’s also low in alcohol content (5.1% ABV) and has a creamy texture from the use of unmalted wheat. To gain the heralded taste, the beer is made from PIlsner malt, white wheat, and caramel malt.

The style of Spotted Cow beers can be traced back to an old family recipe, which was originally made for New Glarus’ dairy farm by owner Deb’s grandmother. The beer is made using Saccharomyces cerevisiae or German ale yeast.

This recipe was traditionally brewed in the winter months and served to celebrate the springtime thawing of frozen ground on the farm. The brewery continued this tradition, naming their first Spotted Cow after this seasonally brewed beer: “a refreshing summer sipper designed to combat long, hot days.”

Why is it Called “Spotted Cow”?

Why should you use a refractometer?

The name Spotted Cow comes from a visit by the New Glarus owners Deborah and Dan Carey to England and was inspired by sheep on the trip to England.

Moreover, the inspiration for naming the beer Spotted cow was from making a  farmhouse ale inspired by what the early German settlers brewed with when they first arrived in America.

Thus the naturally cloudy farmhouse ale can confuse people by being classified as a cream ale. This is because it has all the characteristics of a cream ale including being a blend of Pilsner malt, white wheat, and caramel malt

He named one of his favorite cows after one of his friends, who loved to drink beer — hence the name “Spotted Cow.”

One of the most popular beers today is called Spotted Cow. The initial brew had 10% corn but the current brew is an all-malt recipe. The name comes from an old tradition where people would share a cow with their friends and drink its milk together. It’s called “spotted cow” because people would call it that when they were drunk.

How is a Spotted Cow Made?

A Spotted Cow is made from a mixture of barley and wheat, which gives it a relatively light body. It’s also filtered five times to ensure that the beer is as clear as possible.

The most interesting aspect of Spotted Cow, however, is its flavor. The beer has a very low alcohol content (only 5.1 percent) and has been described as being “creamy” with flavors that include vanilla and hazelnut.

These flavors are produced by a type of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae (German ale yeast) — which also produce “spicy fruit aromas” like pineapple and citrus in other beers — that were added to the fermentation process.

As for how to drink a Spotted Cow? Its flavor profile means it’s best served cold and pairs well with lighter foods such as salads or chicken sandwiches.

An Overview of Its Ingredients and Flavoring

The Spotted Cow is made with malt and hops that have been aged in oak barrels. The beer’s flavor is sweet — it has hints of fruit, vanilla, and caramel — and can have as many as 7% ABV but the recommended is 5.15 ABV.

The brewing company says this brew was created to be a “fun, sweet beer that’s perfect for summer.” Spotted Cow’s’ ingredients are barley malt, hops, water, and yeast.

Its flavoring comes from the oak barrels in which the malt and hop flavors are aged. The beer is light-bodied with hints of fruit, vanilla, and caramel notes.

Germany Purity Law

The Taste of a New Glarus Spotted Cow

The Spotted Cow is a wheat beer that follows the German Purity Law of 1516, which states that beer can only be made with malted barley, hops, and water.

The beer is fermented in open stainless steel tanks and then aged in refrigerated tanks. It contains 5.1% alcohol by volume and has an impressive shelf life — it’s been known to last for up to three years if stored at room temperature (though it never lasts that long around here).

When it comes to taste, the Spotted Cow is soft on the palate and gently carbonated, with flavors of strawberry cream soda, bananas, citrus, and vanilla.

The Taste of a New Glarus Spotted Cow

The beer is sweet with hints of peach, apricot, and sometimes strawberry, with a little breadiness. The crisp snap at the end balances everything out thus giving you an excellent blend of complexity and drinkability. Fermentation produces the fruit flavors, not any additions.

Spotted Cow is a straw-colored beer with a cloudy presence and bready notes, resulting from the brewer’s yeast. It is harder to consume than other mass-appeal beers, despite its simplicity.

The Spotted Cow is an interesting beer and a perfect summer drink. It has 5.1% alcohol and tastes like a mix of sweet cream with a slightly sour finish that’s not too harsh on your palate.

The creaminess comes from oats and lactose, while the sourness is due to the addition of Lactobacillus delbrueckii, which gives it its characteristic tangy flavor. The beer has been likened to drinking a liquid version of Swiss cheese, but for those who are pregnant or have lactose intolerance, this might not be the best beer for you.

One thing people don’t often know about New Glarus Brewing Company is that they only brew from May to October because their brewing season ends when their water supply does.

Unlike many breweries in warmer climates, New Glarus Brewing can’t tap into municipal water sources to provide an endless supply of brewery-grade water year-round.

Spotted Cow Tasting Notes

Spotted Cow has a mild, refreshing taste with a hint of sweetness. It’s not too hoppy or heavy, making it the perfect summer beer for those who don’t want to fill up on alcohol. You will find the beer having subtle fruit, and toffee candy coupled with a very soft and kind of foamy taste which is quite refreshing.

Spotted Cow’s fruity notes are the result of fermentation, not additives. It has a balanced, tart finish with hints of peach, apricot, and sometimes strawberry with a bit of breadiness. It’s a crisp finish balanced by a fruity, tart snap.

It’s also known for its catchy name, which was inspired by the cow that wandered into a brewery one day in the 1980s and ended up on the label of New Glarus Brewing Company’s Old World lager.

Who Should Not Drink Spotted Cow?

If you’re not a fan of sweet, low-alcohol beers and are looking for something that packs a little more punch, the Spotted Cow is probably not for you.

People classify Spotted Cow as a cream ale but the company calls it a farmhouse ale. If you don’t like the taste of this type of beer, which I doubt you can talk about, you can avoid taking the beer.

Finally, for people who want minimal calories in their beer, then the 150 calories per serving can put you off. However, it’s rare to find many beers with such a low calorific count except the light beers such as Bud Light.

Is Spotted Cow good beer?

The spotted cow is a good beer since it is low in calories, has an ABV of 5.1%, and is widely awarded/ recognized making it one of the best-selling craft beers in Wisconsin.

Spotted Cow is a great beer to drink during the summertime. It has an ABV of 5.1% which makes it lower in alcohol than other beers, but it still has that satisfying taste of a higher-alcohol brew.

Spotted Cow is also fairly sweet, so if you’re not used to drinking beers with many flavors, this one will be more appealing to your palate. For those who don’t like beer at all, it’s still worth trying Spotted Cow because it’s much sweeter and lighter than most beers out there.

Is Spotted Cow a light beer?

Yes, with an ABV of 5.1% and 150 calories it is a very light beer. It’s also brewed in the traditional farmhouse style, which is a type of beer that dates back centuries.

The beers have been traditionally brewed by farmers on their farms.

In this type of brewing process, the brewers use open fermentation to expose the beer to natural wild yeast and bacteria. They also typically employ some sort of sugar source other than malt (like fruit or honey), which helps to create a sweeter, more complex flavor profile than typical lagers or ales.

The first two batches of Spotted Cow were brewed on New Glarus Brewing’s original copper brewhouse by brewmaster Dan Carey. Since then, it’s become one of the brewery’s most popular year-round beers and has been named “Best Light Beer” by both Men’s Journal Magazine and MSN Lifestyle

The Drinkable Calories in a New Glarus Spotted Cow

The Spotted Cow is a light, refreshing beer that’s perfect for summer. It is so low in calories that it should be the least of your worries when taking the beer.

It weighs in at 5.1% ABV and only has 150 calories per 12-ounce serving which emanate from 37g of carbs among other nutrients.

The sweet, slightly creamy taste leaves you refreshed and content with every sip, making it the perfect session beer for a day by the water or a lazy afternoon on the porch.

To burn all the 150 calories in the Spotted Cow beer, you just need to either:

  1. Run for just 10 minutes at a pace of 8 miles an hour,
  2. Run for just 13 minutes at a pace of 6 miles an hour or
  3. Jog for just 19 minutes.

Therefore, the calorie intake when you partake in the Spotted Cow beer is a thing that you can easily take care of.

How to Brew Spotted Cow at Home with Cloned Recipe

Where to Buy Spotted Cow

The Spotted Cow is a relatively low-alcohol beer that can be found in many states throughout the Midwest and the Eastern United States. The best place to pick up a six-pack of Spotted Cow is at your local grocery store or liquor store.

Where is Spotted Cow made?

New Glarus Brewing Company is in New Glarus, Wisconsin. It was established in 1993 by Deborah Carey, her son Dan and her brother Jack. The company has brewed more than 3 million barrels of beer with a 12-million barrel capacity.

It may be impossible to get the famous beer in some other states where it is not registered. It is not however illegal to cross the boundaries with the beer for personal consumption.

For example, you may be arrested for selling the beer in some other states such as Minnesota. However, you can carry some of the beer for your family use from Wisconsin to other states.

Can you buy Spotted Cow outside of Wisconsin?

Spotted Cow, being a Wisconsin-only brew, is difficult to find outside of the state. The brewery, which produces about 30,000 barrels of beer annually and employs around 130 people, only distributes in a handful of other states: Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

So what makes it so special? Well, for one thing, Spotted Cow has a distinctly sweet flavor that sets it apart from most beers. It’s also low in alcohol content (just 5.1% ABV), which makes it perfect for warm summer evenings and hot afternoons spent outdoors.

And did we mention the amusing name? “It’s not an accident that we have such an unusual name for our beers,” says New Glarus president Deb Carey. “We want people to talk about us.”

How to Serve Spotted Cow

While this beer is designed to be light and refreshing, it has a distinctly sweet flavor that separates it from other summer brews. It’s perfect for an outdoor occasion where you don’t want anything too heavy.

Serving Spotted Cow is pretty straightforward: Pour the chilled beer into a tall glass and add some ice cubes.

Garnish with a slice of lemon to make it more authentic (you can also enjoy the beer without any additions).

Why Is New Glarus’ Spotted Cow So Famous?

The success of New Glarus’ Spotted Cow can likely be attributed to its unique taste. It is a low-alcohol beer brewed in the style of a Belgian white ale and is lightly fruity with a hint of coriander.

It can be served both warm or cold, which makes it perfect for summertime. Spotted Cow has been a staple at New Glarus Brewing Company since 2004 — but it didn’t take long for people to catch on to how great it is.

In just three years, the beer had become one of the company’s top-selling products and it has been on the brewery’s roster ever since.

Is Spotted Cow an IPA?

Spotted Cow is a Farmhouse Ale Some consumers may be surprised to learn that Spotted Cow is not an IPA.

However, it’s actually classified as a “Farmhouse Ale,” which refers to a broad category of ales that are brewed predominantly with barley and wheat rather than the more traditional barley and rye.

The term “Farmhouse” also describes beers that were historically brewed by farmers in their homes during the cooler times of year.

As for Spotted Cow itself, it has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 5.1percent — relatively low for a beer — and is made with pure Wisconsin dairy cream from the New Glarus Dairy across the street from the brewery. It also features orange peel, vanilla beans and whole coriander seeds.

What are the other beer brands of New Glarus?

New Glarus Brewing Company can be found in the Midwest, East Coast, and West Coast. They have a line of beers including:

  • Spotted Cow
  • Uff-Da
  • Moon Man (a coffee cream ale)
  • Belgian Red (a zesty Euro pale ale)
  • Raspberry Tart (a fruity sour beer)
  • Road Slushy

What is a Farmhouse Ale?

Farmhouse ales are a style of beer that originated in the Low Countries, which includes Belgium and northern France. Typically, they are light-bodied ales that have earthy, funky notes.

Often, they are sour or tart as a result of being aged in barrels with wild yeast strains. Spotted Cow is actually a hybrid between a traditional farmhouse ale and an American cream ale.

The brewery used the former’s “wild yeast” to give it that characteristic tartness, but it also contains the more mild flavor notes of the latter.

In other words, it’s both refreshing and flavorful without being overwhelming or too sweet. The beer has only 5.1% alcohol content and clocks in at just under 5.1% ABV — making it perfect for summertime drinking.

How to Brew Spotted Cow at Home with Cloned Recipe

To make the beer at home, you can use our recommendation of Austin Homebrew Clone Recipe Spotted Cow. If you’re looking for a sweet, low-alcohol beer to enjoy on a warm summer day, Spotted Cow is it.

Using Germany Purity Law, utilize the light malt, and try not to overwhelm the hop, spice and yeast characters. The hops and yeast come together to create a flavor that is surprisingly sweet for a beer.

Its sweetness, combined with its low alcohol content (4.0% ABV) makes Spotted Cow the perfect choice for summer.

It’s got just 5.1% ABV and is made from a recipe that the New Glarus Brewing Company has cloned for home brewers. To brew a batch of this beer, you will need:

  • 4 pounds of Pale Malt Extract
  • 12 ounces of Crystal 60L
  • 1.5 oz. Hallertau Hops (boil)
  • 1/2 oz. Saaz Hops (last 15 minutes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Irish Moss (last 10 minutes)
  • 6 gallons of water
  • 3 cans of Lacto Malt Chocolate Malt Plus
  • Dried Yeast (Wyeast 3942 German Wheat)

The first step in brewing this beer is to add the malt extract and 12 ounces of crystal 60L to your stock pot or kettle.

Boil the mixture for 20 minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it cool down until it reaches room temperature.

Now, add 1 gallon of water to your stock pot or kettle and stir until the malt starts to dissolve into the water. This step will make one gallon of pre-mashing liquid that you can now filter through a coffee filter into another container or pot.

Place the filtered liquid back onto your stovetop and bring it to a simmer as you prepare your yeast package by dissolving three tablespoons into 3/4 cup of lukewarm water.

What beer is similar to Spotted Cow?

The Spotted Cow is a type of beer that can be difficult to find in many bars. It’s a sweet, low-alcohol beer that isn’t exactly the type of thing you’d order in a dive bar.

It also has an amusing name and comes from a rather unexpected place: New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wisconsin. In the early 2000s, New Glarus Brewing was primarily known for its American-style ales, particularly its flagship lager and Uff-Da (a Scandinavian-inspired lager that is among the brewery’s most popular offerings).

However, in 2004 the company released Spotted Cow — which would go on to become one of their most well-known products — as part of their new “Farmhouse Series.”

But what if you can’t find Spotted Cow at your local liquor store? The good news is that there are other beers similar to Spotted Cow. Two beers worth checking out are Lindeman’s Framboise and Leffe Chaud Bruin.


Spotted Cow is a low-alcohol beer with a fun name that comes from New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin. You can find it at bars and liquor stores in the Midwest, but it’s a sweet beer that you probably won’t find at your local dive bar. Spotted Cow was released by New Glarus Brewing Company in 2004 as part of their new “Farmhouse Series.”


What is Spotted Cow?

Spotted Cow is a light, refreshing beer made in Wisconsin. It’s a low-alcohol beer (just 4% ABV) that has a gentle malty sweetness and finishes dry.

What does Spotted Cow taste like?

Pleasant, soft malt flavors and mellow hops are the main characteristics of this easy-drinking brew. With just a hint of fruitiness and no bitterness, it’s perfect for summer.

How do I enjoy Spotted Cow?

This is the type of beer you can drink all day long while hanging out on the porch or sitting around the campfire with friends. You can also take it along to summer cookouts and picnics, where its lightness is a plus. It’s great served cold straight from the fridge with no food pairing required; but if you prefer to have something alongside your Spotted Cow, try some fresh vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, or grilled chicken wings with blue cheese dip.


  1. I absolutely concur with Shirleen’s glowing review of Spotted Cow. The farmhouse ale’s smooth, light body and its slightly cloudy appearance create an immediate visual allure that makes it stand out. The harmonious combination of gentle malt sweetness, subtle hop bitterness, and a refreshing finish showcases its exceptional balance, making it a truly enjoyable beer. The well-deserved praise for its easy drinkability and versatile nature holds true, making Spotted Cow a go-to choice for various occasions. The cult following and the sense of connection it fosters with the local beer culture enhance the overall experience, making it not just a drink but a memorable part of the journey. It would be fascinating to hear if Shirleen or others have encountered beers with similarly devoted followings or distinctive qualities that have made a lasting impact during their travels.

  2. I wholeheartedly echo the sentiments of the Devin the fortunate traveler who experienced Spotted Cow. Having had the pleasure of tasting this iconic brew, I can attest to its unique and delightful characteristics. The farmhouse ale’s smooth, light body and slightly cloudy appearance immediately set it apart, creating an inviting visual appeal. The gentle malt sweetness, subtle hop bitterness, and refreshing finish make it an exceptionally well-balanced and easy-to-enjoy beer. The praise for its easy drinkability is well-deserved, and the sessionable nature of Spotted Cow indeed makes it a versatile choice for various occasions. The cult following surrounding this brew adds an extra layer of allure, creating a connection with the local beer culture that enhances the overall experience. It’s truly a memorable and integral part of any visit to the city where Spotted Cow is beloved. Have you found other beers with a similar cult following or unique characteristics that have left a lasting impression on your travels?

  3. Spotted Cow es una cerveza excepcional que tuve la fortuna de probar. Su sabor único y refrescante es verdaderamente memorable. La suave combinación de dulzura de la malta y la sutil amargura del lúpulo la hace única y una parte disfrutable de mi experiencia explorando la escena cervecera de Wisconsin. A pesar de ser de un lugar distinto, la Spotted Cow añadió un toque especial a mi experiencia, creando una conexión auténtica con la cultura local y las tradiciones cerveceras. Es fascinante cómo una cerveza puede ser un puente cultural, permitiéndote apreciar los sabores y las historias de un lugar en cada sorbo. ¡Salud a la experiencia deliciosa de Spotted Cow!

  4. As someone who also had the pleasure of trying it, I resonate with the appreciation for its unique farmhouse ale characteristics. The malt sweetness and subtle hop bitterness create a well-balanced flavor profile that makes it stand out. The fact that this beer has become a regional favorite speaks volumes about its quality and the connection it fosters with the local culture. It’s not just about the taste; it’s about the experience and the stories woven into each sip. Spotted Cow, with its charm, transcends being just a beverage; it becomes a part of the journey, a symbol of exploration, and a delightful memory to carry from Wisconsin back to my State. Cheers to the cultural bridge that beer can be!

  5. My experience with it as a visitor from France was truly memorable. This farmhouse ale, known for its regional popularity, has a distinct and refreshing taste that resonated with my palate. The smooth blend of malt sweetness and subtle hop bitterness made it a unique and enjoyable part of my exploration of Wisconsin’s craft beer scene. Despite being from France, I couldn’t resist trying this local gem, and Spotted Cow’s charm added a special touch to my Wisconsin experience, creating a connection with the local culture and brewing traditions. It’s fascinating how beer can be a cultural bridge, allowing you to appreciate the flavors and stories of a place in every sip.

  6. I’m keen to understand more about its nutritional aspects. Could you provide information on the calorie content per serving of Spotted Cow, considering factors such as serving size and specific brewing variations? Additionally, for some of us mindful of dietary restrictions, it would be beneficial to know about the gluten content in Spotted Cow, as gluten sensitivity is a common consideration?

    • Thank you Beryl for your questions and comment. Indeed Spotted cow is a gem. While the calorie content in Spotted Cow can vary based on factors like serving size and specific brewing variations, a standard estimate for a 12-ounce serving is around 150 to 200 calories. However, it’s advisable to check with the brewery for precise information, as brewing variations may influence caloric content. Regarding gluten content, Spotted Cow is a farmhouse ale made from malted barley, which contains gluten. For those mindful of dietary restrictions or with gluten sensitivity, exploring gluten-reduced or gluten-free beer options might be worth considering.

  7. As a responsible drinker, I have to be mindful of the caloric content in alcoholic beverages. While the exact calorie count can vary based on serving size and specific brewing variations, a general estimation for a 12-ounce serving of Spotted Cow is around 150-160 calories. I thus just took 2 beers to ensure I don’t burst my calorific target for the day. Being aware of the caloric content helps me in maintaining a balanced and responsible approach to consumption.

  8. Spotted Cow is a popular beer brewed by New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin, known for its regional popularity and limited distribution. As a fortunate traveler who has experienced this iconic brew, I can attest to its distinct taste and widespread appeal. Spotted Cow is a farmhouse ale with a smooth, light body and a slightly cloudy appearance. Its flavor profile is characterized by a gentle malt sweetness, subtle hop bitterness, and a refreshing finish. The beer is often praised for its easy drinkability and sessionable nature, making it a go-to choice for locals and visitors alike. The cult following of Spotted Cow adds to the charm, creating a sense of connection with the local beer culture and making it a memorable part of any visit to the city where it is beloved..

  9. Hi Lee. I wish to say your article is as astounding. I love Spotted Cow because it embodies the spirit of Wisconsin craftsmanship and captures the essence of a classic farmhouse ale. This iconic beer, crafted by New Glarus Brewing Company, is a testament to the artistry of brewing, blending the smoothness of a cream ale with a touch of rustic character.
    Spotted Cow allows me to celebrate the tradition of this Wisconsin favorite, cherished for its approachable and sessionable nature. The beer’s balanced malt profile and subtle fruity notes make it a joy to create, providing a satisfying and refreshing experience for those seeking a taste of local brewing history. Each batch of Spotted Cow is a tribute to the vibrant brewing culture, and the process is a labor of love as I strive to capture the essence of this beloved Midwest classic in every bottle.

  10. Thank Lee. I truly love Spotted Cow – the quintessential Wisconsin farmhouse ale that captures the essence of craft brewing in every sip. Its smooth, creamy texture and subtle fruity notes make it an irresistible and sessionable delight.
    It’s not just a beverage; it’s a flavorful journey that embodies the heart and soul of craft beer in every effervescent, golden drop. How can I get it in my city, Sacramento?

    • Hi John. I also loved the experience and the lingering taste on my tongue when I took the beer. Currently, you can enjoy the beer in Wisconsin and the neighboring States. I hope soon the beer will reach your city

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