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Cream of the Crop



Take it like a man.

photograph by Aubrie Pick.
 
A bottle of Orange Blossom Cream Ale from Buffalo Bill’s Brewery in the East Bay came across my desk last week—well, it actually came across Eat+Drink editor Sara Deseran’s desk. But when I saw it I immediately begged her to let me be the official Food Team Tester, because I am a sucker for “girly beers” of all types. If it has a hint of fruit (21st Amendment’s Watermelon Wheat comes to mind), then chill it, slap it in a glass, and let me have it.

Notice I say hint. No one likes overpoweringly sweet beer (or cocktails for that matter). Rather, one wants the fruit to act as a subtle aroma and aftertaste—icing on the cake, so to speak—to the beer’s heavier, drier qualities. That’s exactly what happens when you drink Orange Blossom Cream Ale: You get a vague whiff of orange as you lift the glass to your mouth, and a sensual, summery trace of it as it goes down your throat.

As for you hard-core beer snobs out there who bemoan the orange, the fruit, the honey that also goes into this particular recipe or the light lager quality of cream ales in general—I have some bad news for you. I hope you’re sitting down, especially if you’re a guy. While fruit and lightness scare you, the bitter sting of hops is your hero, proving to the world that you can take it like a man. Well, hops happens to be a narcoleptic—it’s been used to cure insomnia for ages. And it’s also thought to contribute heavily to a little condition called “brewer’s droop.” I think you can guess what that is.

Meanwhile, I’m off to Hayward to try Buffalo Bill’s other brews—Hayward Hefe (a wheat beer finished with hints of clove) will be the first on my list. I’ll have my husband try all the hoppy brews like Tasmanian Devil and Ricochet Red. And we will test this little theory out. Stay tuned.