Ale is the craft beer drinker’s adjunct lager. In fact, there’s not a
whole lot of difference in the ingredients between pale lager and cream
ales; the latter just has way more cache. The problem is so few
breweries make an exciting cream ale (many are downright awful). City
Steam Crème de la Crème may not exactly be a masterwork, but it’s better
than most and a fun beer to drink.
I poured a 12oz bottle into a mug. It was bottled on 4/23/15 and cost $2.80 ($0.23 per ounce).
Appearance: Maize-yellow color with a hazy complexion. Carbonation is
visible at first but it calms down. Pours to a small, white, foamy head
which leaves a surprising amount of lacing.
Smell: Lager-like scent with prominent corn notes, though Noble hops are noticeable.
Taste: It’s amazing how much affect yeast has on a beer’s palette. When
lagered, the ingredients in this type of beer tend to be grainy and
harsh, but when fermented as an ale they’re much smoother and rounded
out. There’s a light bready/biscuity flavor to the malts here. Flaked
maize gives it a sweet, cornbread-like flavor (whereas in lagers it
tends to taste like canned corn). The use of Noble hops imparts a little
bit of spice; akin to a light rye flavor. This is a well-balanced brew
with nuances worth appreciating, albeit a mild one.
Drinkability: The funny thing about cream ales is they tend to be light,
thin and crisp – not creamy. Though in the case of City Steam Crème de
la Crème I actually do detect a creamy smoothness to the texture. It’s
still plenty well carbonated, though as it does seem to kick-off the
tongue at the end of each swig. At 4.8% ABV it’s arguably sessionable,
though this body could probably use a bit more flavor or a bit less
alcohol. This beer should be packaged in cans, too.