A while back, I was trying to do a style of the week. It was going well for a while… and then work got busy – and stayed that way. But I really want to stick with style guidelines and talking about them for a few reasons. One, I think a lot of misinformation about styles swims around on the interwebs - such as the idea that a "Double IPA" is somehow authoritatively different from an "Imperial IPA". I'll never forget getting into a disagreement about that with a bartender in Seattle where I was told that he was right, I was wrong, and there was a reason he was BEHIND one of the country's best bars and I was not.
Someone didn't know how to earn tips.
Two, I'm taking the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) exam in September, and this will help me study. Knowing and understanding different styles is not just based in tasting them, but knowing what properties are typical of the style as well as their history. Finally, I want to focus on commercial examples of beers that not only exemplify styles but are available in the KC metro area. I'm going to stick with the BJCP guidelines for now because I think it's a good – and standard – starting point for style recognition. And seeking out commercial styles that I can get here will only help me study. (Study... yeah, that's the ticket...)
Today's style is Cream Ale, partially because I recently came back from Milwaukee and had a New Glarus Spotted Cow (which you can't get outside of Wisconsin or internet trades. What was I just saying about KC availability?). But also because I think it's a style that has several misconceptions about what it is. No, it doesn't have cream in it. It doesn't have lactose or anything dairy-based at all. And it's not because it's served on nitro or has a creamy mouthfeel (that's called Smooth Ale across the pond). It's actually a pretty old style, one which managed to survive Prohibition (shudder).
The result is a clean, light ale that is neither bitter nor malty, is highly carbonated, and very refreshing. It's the lawnmower beer of the ale world.
- Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema (I need a beer just typing that out)
- Genesee Cream Ale
- Rogue Honey Cream ale
If you're ever in Wisconsin, do yourself a favor and pick up a Spotted Cow. It's definitely worth tipping (back). har har.