Beer of the Week: Genesee Cream Ale

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John Linn
The perfect can of Genny always foams over when you crack it open.
Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

The first time I had a can of Genny Cream I was in upstate New York visiting Danielle's family.

Her dad and his brother had just returned to their family farm where we were staying with two twelve packs of Genny (pronounced "Jenny") tucked under their arms. Danielle's uncle, Don, snapped open the card board case and pushed a few cans of Genny into the snow just outside the front door. No need for a fridge when it's twenty degrees out.

In the mean time, Don passed out cans to the rest of us like he was giving out lollipops. I lifted the tab on the top of the can and it hissed and gurgled, spraying an airy, creamy head up over the lip. Of course, I did what anyone does when a can of beer foams over. I brought it to my mouth as fast as possible. To keep the foam off the floor, of course.

The Genny was tart and thick in the same way a cream soda is. It lent itself to big gulps -- not slow sips -- which made me realize why the Flemings had picked up two twelve packs even though only four of us were drinking beer. (The rest were sipping on homemade elderberry wine and glasses of cheap red.) As I killed the can, I felt the hollow aluminum crinkle under my hand. Time for another.

Genny Cream is the sort of old-school beer that you drink with good old boys or your closest family. It's one of the only beers from a can that I actually enjoy straight from the can -- pouring it into a glass is sheer blasphemy, anyway. While it's one of those cheap, gas station beers like Schlitz and PBR in upstate New York (it hales from Rochester), down here it's a specialty find. But you can get it in individual cans at ABC Liquors.

The brew itself is hoppy and tangy, with that slight lager funk that any light beer from a can has. But it has a warming alcohol quality and a head that just doesn't stop foaming. It tastes like how I thought to beer from Cheers would taste when I watched episodes as a kid: sweet and frothy. It's the kind of beer you steal sips of from your Dad's can -- no surprise, that's one of the themes of Genny Cream's website. Despite its blue-collar appeal, Genny is a beer with a fine pedigree: It won a gold medal at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival in the Lager/Cream Ale category.

Though I'm a huge craft beer fan and enjoy the complex brews most of all, there's still an occasion for a beer in a can. Sitting on the porch with family. A day in the sun (or snow), culminating with a barbecue. Watching a football game on and old TV. For those instances, Genny Cream would be my choice every time.

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