So to my short-lived shame, it took me a few moments of thought and then a sniff of this brew to sort out exactly what it was I was reviewing. Dubbed an “Orange Cream Ale,” I was beginning to think that perhaps Coney Island was stretching a little bit in their attempts to release the newest and most original brew in the ongoing Soda Wars. As I poured and then photographed the soda, my mind missed the point entirely as it searched through memories in the hopes of recalling what a cream ale might be like.
It wasn’t until a sniff of the brew and the noting that it smelled quite a bit like root beer, but not quite, that things clicked. So, I present to you, those of you who may have been equally in the self-imposed, should-have-seen-it-but-didn’t dark, Coney Island’s Hard Cream Soda. Heh…see…I only barely missed it.
Now, to strike right to the point of this thing, it is indeed quite a cream soda. Somewhere perhaps between sarsaparilla and straight ahead root beer, the malt shop sugar flavors contained within this brew, as well as the soda which inspired it have to them by comparison, something of a light and sophisticated tone. At 5% abv, it rivals most domestic beers in terms of gravity but disguises its alcohol completely. Creamy both in texture and in flavor, the elements of orange which one might assume for the namesake itself would be up front and center, are in fact rather subdued.
Perhaps this seems to be the case due to the name and the near expectation of such being more of a creamy orange soda than an orange cream soda. Or perhaps because upon the label itself it pictures a tall malt shop soda with an orange garnish, which just sort of drives the point home. In either case, the flavor is there, however it is more the weak force in comparison to the cream soda’s strong force.
All of this being the case, it is itself yet another pleasantly well-balanced hard soda offering from the Coney Island company. Without a competitor from either the Best Damn or Not Your Father’s companies to compare it to, any competition it may be in is one it is in alone. This being the case however, it stands to reason that others will likely follow suit and as such, if history is any judge at all, Coney Island should be able to take a leading spot, at least in my own subjective view.
While at the outset, with the honestly annoying aspects of the craze itself and the sort of kitschy novelty of the hard soda emergence, the fad didn’t really thrill me. With each new hard soda that would roll into the shop, I cringed a little inside wondering if beer culture wasn’t under attack from yet another Four Loko. However now having sampled my way through just about all of these sorts of varieties available to us in the North East, I find my perspective changing just a bit. I rather enjoyed this hard cream SODA and could quite honestly see myself going for another.
So to Coney Island, to my own ineptitude with names and labels, and of course to you, I say as always…
(New Year’s) Cheers!
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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