Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Cream City Pale Ale

Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
Milwaukee, WI

Style: American Pale Ale

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Greetings fellow Beer Dorks, Nigel here with one of what I hope to be a number of reviews in the coming weeks. Us Beer Dorks are busy you know, what with both myself and Eddie recently on holiday, and the fact that Eddie, Jill, Baby-Boy, Jug, and Franz have real jobs. I don't include myself in that category, as us English royalty have no need to subject ourselves to the everyday pitiful tasks that are best left to the serfs. Besides, my globetrotting on the banquet circuit is a difficult task in itself. Why, just this past week alone, I played 18 at St. Andrews with the the Count of Northumbria, attended a Sweet 16 party for the Princess of Moravia, and did some blow at the White House with W., Condoleeza, and Sir Keith Richards. It's been a rough week... especially since Condoleeza won't stop texting me. Anyways, I've got a few reviews stocked up in my officially dorky beer review notepad, so, time permitting, I hope to share a few in the coming weeks.

So, what's Nigel's rant this time... is it the weather in the Midwest? No, that's too easy. Sports? Nope, I did well in my NCAA pools, it's Masters weekend, and baseball has started, with my Brewers looking like real contenders (once every quarter century ain't bad... right Cub fans??). Instead, I'd like to rant on something that is very relevant to the present month. As Eddie Glick wrote in a recent article, has declared April Anti-A-B Month. At first I thought this meant we opposed people who donated blood (Nigel would not approve of that), but then I realized that A-B is actually an abbrevation for one of the Devil's many nicknames, Anheuser-Busch. Thus, my rant is directed at the lowest of the low in society today, those that walk around in the red number 8 NASCAR Budweiser jackets (or any other Budweiser NASCAR paraphenalia). I used to think that these people were the Gypsies of America, but then I realized that was insulting to the Gypsies. What the hell is wrong with these people? They buy gigantic tires and a booming sound system for their 1991 Chevy pickup truck, shell out $200 for a Dale Earnhardt Jr. leather jacket, but can't afford to pay $50 a week for child support. What good is a pimp soundsystem if you're only gonna play country music anyways? Honestly, Randy Hank Travis Keith Chesney Connick Jr. sounds just as bad in a tin can as it does on a $2000 system. And, by the way, you can make all the noise you want at a red light, squeel the tires and such, but, uh... my car has a turbo engine, and will blow your rust bucket away. An Aston Martin will beat a Chevy pickup any day. And that attitude you walk around with, that "look at my Dale Earnhardt Jr. jacket and the Fox Racing emblem on my back windshield- I'm the shit!"... well, guess what Billy Bob- I'm not looking at either of those things, but rather at your girlfriend, who seems to be lacking many teeth and is about 100 pounds overweight. So much for Nigel eating lunch. I will say this, Nigel has seen a number of candid interviews with this Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he seems to be a very good guy- honestly- but it's unfortunate that he sold his soul to the Devil, and is now worshiped by useless rednecks everywhere. My English and American blood is boiling now and I could go on forever on this topic, but I must get to my review, so I will cease and desist for the moment.

As a current resident of the great state of Wisconsin, Nigel is quite familiar with Lakefront Brewery, a fine microbrewer who is helping to keep Milwaukee's reputation as the finest beer city in the world alive. Lakefront has been around for 20 years now, having moved to larger digs on Commercial Ave. on the Milwaukee River a few years back to help expand their previously small-time operation. The tour at Lakefront is absolutely fantastic- very entertaining, with ample samples provided. Many Lakefront brews have names relevant to, what in my opinion, is one of the most underrated cities in these fine United States of America. For example, Cream City Pale Ale refers to the limestone bricks used in many of old Milwaukee's architectural gems, the only local materials available in this low-lying city that grew from a wetland on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Other brews in Lakefront's repertoire include Eastside Dark and Riverwest Stein, both prominent old Milwaukee neighborhoods, and Cattail Ale, another reference to Milwaukee's origins as a city built from the lowlands (no snickering, Chicago... can anyone say mob rule??). The building at Lakefront is fantastic, and the Friday Fish Fry can't be beat- Franz referenced it in his review for Focktoberfest, polka band and all (fortunately, Lakefront is close to both Water St. and North Ave. for all of those UWM and Marquette Beer Dorks, who, like Nigel, think polka music sucks). In my opinion, Lakefront's brews tend to be average, but the atmosphere is amazing- any Beer Dork traveling to Milwaukee should put this near the top of their to-do list.

When it comes to Pale Ales (IPA's redheaded stepchild as Nigel refers to them), Lakefront's is as good as any you'll find anywhere. Having sampled many (but not all) of Lakefront's offerings, Cream City Pale Ale is far and away the best- definitely their signature brew. Cream City is listed as an American Pale Ale, as is Cattail Ale, but the former blows the latter out of the water. Cream City pours a nice golden brown color for an APA, not too light, not too dark, with a nice cloudiness and a mild initial head that dissipates into the perfect low-carbonated brew in the glass. The smell is excellent for a Pale Ale: very floral, very fruity, with a noticeable hint of hops, malt, and yeast- all key ingredients for the perfect brew. The taste brings it home. It's bitter, but by no means on the level of an IPA. The hops only slightly outweigh the malt, and the sweetness of a number of citrus fruits comes through to balance it nicely (orange dominates, along with a tinge of grapefruit and other tart flavors). The aftertaste is surprisingly mild for this type of beer. It's a medium-bodied brew, not as strong as some Pales, but not too wussy. The overall balance makes it one of those brews that may seem only average at first, but your appreciation grows for it with each sip. Cream City Pale Ale is a sign that Lakefront has the capability of expanding into the world of powerful brews, and when it comes to APA's it's certainly better than regional powers Summit Extra Pale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (boo California), and Bell's Pale Ale. If there are any Beer Dorks out there who are unfamiliar with Lakefront, be sure to make Cream City Pale Ale your first sample from this brewery.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on April 6, 2007.
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