Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Genesee - Cream Ale

I was initially very excited to try this brew.  A cream ale?  I had not heard of such things before, and assumed that "cream" would refer to mostly to the mouthfeel.  Cream and ale?  I was intrigued and decided to give it a go.  However, between the period from when I bought this beer to when I decided to review it, I had read an article about beers that I "had to drink in a can."  This beer was on that list.  Needless to say, it made me a bit apprehensive.  While canned beers are gaining credence in the craft beer circles, older beers that have been doing it for a while have been doing so because it is cheap and easy.  In fact, the author of the article, Erik Desjarlais, best puts it as such,

 "I’m not talking about the microbreweries who are now canning their beers; I’m talking about the old school. The stuff my elders drank, often times with a pinch of salt. Yes, with a pinch of salt. "

Note: I will not be trying this beer with salt.  Maybe during my next can of PBR if I'm feeling like a hipster.  Needless to say, traditionally canned beers have occasionally considered salt an improvement to the flavor. It is not exactly what I would classify as "encouraging."  Which beer will I get?  The cream?  The salt?  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 6/12
The dull sweetness of grain rushes out to the nose.  Hop aroma is almost entirely absent, with the exception of a light fruit aroma.  I know it is not per the style, but it almost comes off as citrusy.

Appearance 2/3
The beer pours a bright, clear, light yellow with a generous head.  The head, contrary to popular belief, will not sustain the weight of a coin.  In fact, it barely covered the top of the beer before I could take a sip.  I had even prepared to take a photo of a coin resting gently on the pillowy head!  EBC is approximately a 20.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 13/20
First impression?  Bready.  But more like a sweet bread, say a Hawaiian roll or enriched bread.  You know, the type of bread that you could eat plain.  As with the aroma, there are virtually no hops except a nearly imperceptible hop aftertaste.  The sweetness is very pleasant, but it is basically all this beer offers.  Very simple, very straightforward.

Mouthfeel 2/5
There is nothing special going on here.  The "cream" in cream ale evidently does not apply to the beer's texture.  It is a light-medium body, with slightly less than average carbonation.

Overall Impression 8/10
For a beer you can buy 24oz of for $0.95, this is pretty amazing.  It is not the best beer in the world, but I would definitely pay more for it and it definitely beats the pants off of any other beer in that price range.  It has its sweetness and high drinkability.  A nice combination for cookouts, groups of friends, or just a night where you do not want something "too heavy."  There are lots of craft beers that charge a lot more for a comparable experience.

Total 31/50
There is something very American about this beer.  Perhaps it's the light taste and high drinkability.  Perhaps it's getting a great bargain.  Perhaps it's not being disappointed with that bargain afterwards.  There's a word for that: value.  This beer has high value and I am proud to recommend it.  Something about it (perhaps the grain-derived sweetness) is almost reminiscent of New Glarus' Spotted Cow.  I know that may be blasphemy to some craft-drinkers out there (and tons of Wisconsinites), but I stand by my taste buds.  What a great surprise from not only an inexpensive beer (I'll not call it cheap), but one you can find in a can as well.  Its simplicity holds it back a great deal as far as its score, but there is definitely a reason this beer has been around so long.  Go find out why for yourselves.  You won't need salt.

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