When I received this gift and started on this arduous journey to write about beer that I consume the last place I thought of was Rochester, New York. It isn’t exactly a Mecca of world beer consumption and yet if you look at the label of Genesee Cream Ale you will notice the numerous world beer awards that they’ve taken home. The label itself touts its achievement as being around since 1878 and being an “Award winning classic with the flavor of a fine ale and the smoothness of a premium lager.” Before last evening I had never heard of this beer. Classic? Perhaps it’s bigger on the East Coast, but I certainly don’t remember ever hearing about it when I was back there.
What I will say for them is they have one of the better websites I’ve seen from a beer company and the history of their beer is fascinating. As for the taste, I was expecting something a little more frothy, if you will. Something along the lines of a cream stout or even with a hint of vanilla. It had very little of the maltiness (Maltese?) flavor that it claims, but I was not disappointed. The girlfriend and I sat down to finish watching Downton Abbey and enjoyed Salmon a la Checca with brussel sprouts (I boiled them for 2 minutes then baked them with olive oil & a little Tapatio sauce on top) and quinoa. It was the only beer of the ten that I thought would be able to go with this meal and I was right. It was a perfect fit.
I struggle with the designation of beer that most people have. Beer is just as good for pairing as wine. There are certain beers (Bud Light, Natty Ice, Old Milwaukee) that are great for packing it in on a road trip or camping trip or just shotgunning with your boys. Wine is the same. You don’t see many French restaurants serving two buck Chuck or boxed wine. There are cheap alternatives to everything and beer is no different. The reason Guinness is so perfect with Fish and Chips is because the malt vinegar and oil compliment the stout flavor of the beer. It’s the pairing that makes it so great, but goes unrealized because of many societal designations about the crudeness of beer. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Beer, wine and spirits all compliment different dishes in different ways. That’s part of the reason I’ve been doing this. I want to not only speak to the quality of the beer, but also pair it fairly so that I can get a true feel for what makes a beer truly original and great. Genesee Cream Ale, while not exactly worldly, is still of the world and a fine beer. There’s a reason a beer from Rochester, New York was included in the world beer box…quality. I won’t try another World beer until perhaps Sunday or Monday, until then it’s Fat Tire and whiskey for me. Happy New Year, kids!