I’d been thinking about cream ale for a couple of weeks ever since the Riley County Fair. I was promised funnel cake, but never quite got around to eating one. I determined that a cream ale was the same sort of experience, but in a liquid form.
If you’ve never had a cream ale you should try one and you should be warned that it’s a complex sensory experience.
Disclaimer: I’d thought it was called a cream ale because it had lactose like a cream or milk stout. I read up on the subject and found out I was way off.
Cream ale is somewhere between a lager and an ale. It’s warm fermented with a top-fermenting yeast and then krausened (fresh wort is added to beer right before they bottle or keg it) to increase carbonation and make it extra smooth.
It’s also supposed to have an extra creamy head, but I can’t tell you a lot about that since the waitress took it upon herself to pour the beer for me down the side of the bottle. See future comment on beer pouring. What head there was had was white-ish and dissipated quickly. Not sure if that was the beer or the pour. It’s a pretty golden color and smells malty sweet. It feels crisp in your mouth, but it tastes creamy which is hard to reconcile, for me at least. Seriously, your tongue will be telling you this substance is both thin and fizzy and creamy at the same time.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever had another cream ale so I can’t say a lot about how it stacks up with others, but I like it if you’re in the mood for a sweet, refreshing drink without much in the way of hops bitterness.
There are several others out there: Rogue’s Honey Cream, New Glarus’ Spotted Cow, Bad Monkey’s Butt Monkey Chimp Chilller Ale (yep, that’s a real beer), and the occasional seasonal No. 23 Street Time Cream Ale from Lb. Brewing, but I think Genesee’s might be the easiest to acquire in Kansas.