A beer enthusiast cannot merely live on big robust dark brews all the time. Those looking for a lighter beer, yet with solid flavor, would do well by picking up a six pack of Coon Rock Cream Ale made by Lake Louie Brewing. Many craft beer fans around Wisconsin know the story of the brewery's name, a quarter-acre pond on the Arena farm belonging to owner and brewmaster Tom Porter, both of which were once owned by his uncle Louie.
What is it? Coon Rock Cream Ale from Lake Louie Brewing of Arena, Wisconsin.
Style: American Cream Ale is a mild, pale golden brew with a smooth, yet light malty body and low hop bitterness. Brewing adjuncts such as corn or rice are commonly used, which lighten both body and mouth feel. This style emerged prior to Prohibition, as brewers looked to create a brew that could compete with the emerging popularity of American light lager. Cream ales are somewhat common at American brewpubs, because they offer a light beer that looks like a popular big brewery lager, without the challenges or equipment that making lager beers presents. In short, this beer should be light and refreshing.
Background: Coon Rock Cream Ale takes it name from a local bluff on the south side of the Wisconsin River along Highway 14 -- a site that Tom Porter and his neighbors around Arena know quite well for its "alleged" party potential. Locals say trappers used to dry pelts in camps along the bluff. The recipe for the beer features white corn from Briess Malting of Chilton. This helps produce a thick soft head to this brew. Coon Rock is a year round beer for Lake Louie, and it sells for about $8.50/six pack.
- Aroma: Light malty graininess.
- Appearance: Clear golden color with a thick, soft white head.
- Texture: Medium bodied; with a crisp, bubbly mouth feel.
- Taste: Begins with a light floral, sweet maltiness with a mild, yet firm hoppy background.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Hints of maltiness, but this beer will surprise you with a latent dry hoppiness that continues to build.
Glassware: Despite being an ale, Coon Rock really goes well in a traditional pilsner glass. The tall slender vessel will highlight its brilliant golden color, while the flared lip supports a long-lasting thick and soft head.
Pairs well with: Lighter foods, particularly deli sandwiches and chips. This beer goes well with lunch.
Rating: Two Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: I enjoy a beer like this, especially with a light lunch or when I'm looking for something that doesn't compete with the food. It can actually offer pallet cleansing qualities. Personally, though, I just don't find myself in the "lighter beer" mood very often, so the rating is a qualified response. Coon Rock Cream Ale is what it is, and for those looking for a good clean-tasting local beer, it is something to keep in the refrigerator.