As a kid I used to love cream soda, especially Henry Weinhards’ Vanilla Cream. Pepsi wasn’t my thing, 7up was ok, Root beer was good but there was nothing better than a cream soda. There was something about the combination of the vanilla taste and the tickle of the carbonation on my tongue that bested anything else.
When I started getting into beer I stumbled across Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice Ale. The first time I ever had it I was blown away, it tasted like cream soda. I completely went back to that love I had as a kid but this was a beer!
In February, spurred on by one of our winter heat spells, I decided that I wanted to brew a knockoff. After pulling out one of my last cans of last years seasonal I penciled out what I thought should go into it. It came out pretty good but the hop profile was off and the vanilla was not as present as I wanted it to be. About a months ago I decided to give it another try. Working off my notes of the first batch I switched up the hop profile and this time instead of using our vanilla extract I tossed an actual vanilla bean into secondary.
The second batch is now all kegged up and ready to serve. So how’d it come out this time? Exactly how I wanted it to. The beer is a gorgeous amber color with a big vanilla nose. When you taste it, it’s an adults version of cream soda. It’s got a nice maltiness and of course that vanilla cream taste. The carbonation cuts the richness of the vanilla and makes for a great beer. It’s very lightly hopped with Willametes and UK Goldings but the hops are a minor part of this beer. A word of warning, even though it taste like cream soda it comes in at 6.8% and will catch you off guard on a hot summers day.