25 March 2010

Schmohz Valley City Cream Ale

Schmohz Valley City Cream Ale
Grand Rapids, MI
5.0% ABV

I've been thinking about quitting BeerAdvocate. This is a big deal for me, as I've been a BA user ever since I started drinking beer, and have a (fairly) large collection of reviews over there. I've been active on the forums off and on over the years, and really the site is a great resource for learning about beer.

But. I've gotten to the point now that I find myself getting annoyed by the rating interface, disliking having to input reviews here and over there, and lacking an easy way to download those reviews back onto my computer. The way I've been working lately is to type up my thoughts here and then cut+paste them over into the BA system, which is fine, but it just takes up time that seems silly to waste.

Sure, if I leave BA behind I'll have to stop putting a numerical score at the bottom of my posts, but is that really a great sacrifice? I can easily just give an A to F rating for the beers based on my experiences, which would be pretty fair even though it isn't a standardized metric used fairly widely across the online beer geek community.

I'm still using BA for this review, but I figured I'd put my thoughts to pixels and see if I got any responses.

So. My experiences with Schmohz have been rather mixed. We got their beer in at the store about six or eight months ago, and I tried one almost immediately, and found it to have what I perceived to be substantial technical flaws. Since then I've tried three of their other beers but haven't bothered to review, as I feel like a newly bottling brewery deserves a little bit of time to standardize their process and get things rolling before I weigh in with what could be perceived as a bit of a slam.

This beer is a new one for me, and as of writing the above I haven't even opened the bottle yet. How does the Valley City Cream Ale stack up? Well....

Pours golden yellow with a one-finger white foamy head that dissipates pretty quickly but leaves some lacing on the glass. Pretty clear, but with a bit of haze. Not bad at all. First impressions on the nose are of strong oranges and citrus notes. Beneath that is a hint of yeast and spice... this reminds me a bit of an American-style witbier more than a cream ale.

Flavor is strongly citrus, lots of oranges and hints of grapefruit. A hop bitterness balances the palate and gives the beer a bit of a dry finish and aftertaste. If this is made with adjuncts they're pretty well-hidden. It's not hard to imagine this as a competitor for Oberon, at least from the overall character of the ale.

Mouthfeel is moderate-to-thick, creamy, with quite a bit of body. Goes down smooth and clean. Some hoppiness and carbonation bites the tongue.

I expected to dislike this beer or at least drink it grudgingly, but this is actually a pretty decent beer, probably a great starter for those looking for an introduction to decent stuff after only drinking macro products, and a nearly perfect lawnmower beer. Is it as good as Oberon? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves here....

My overall BA rating: 3.8/5

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