Friday, August 17, 2012

Genny Cream Goes Retro... Could Upstate New York Spawn Its Own Hipster Beer a la PBR?

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time then you will know that I have something of an obsession with our indigenous Upstate New York macro brews. Read all about this in my 3 part series "The Piss Beers of Upstate New York" linked here (also a bit about "Genny Screamers" which are the unique gastrointestinal events that occur after imbibing a Genny product).

Genesee Cream Ale is an old classic in the affordable American lager genre (I think they might actually use ale yeast but it is really more of a "lager" in style). When I was in college Genny Cream was 9.99 for a 30 pack... Needless to say, ahem ahem, I have some experience with this beverage. And you know what? At the current 6.99 for a 12 pack GCA is still a bargain in my opinion.

People tend to write the stuff off as awful based on a reputation that I am really not sure how Genny Cream acquired. I think the fact that it is a bit more aggressively hoppy/bitter than your average macro American lager (Bud, Miller, Coors, etc...) turns off a lot of the inexperienced beer drinkers who are used to a certain level of blandness. Go drink a can of GCA and then drink a can of Heineken. The stuff fairs shockingly well in a side by side comparison. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Genny Cream. It is a solid affordable brew.

Anyhow, I was over at the Hannafords on Delaware Ave. when I noticed that the Cream Ale has gone back to its ol' timey' packaging. Gone is the below can design which I always found a bit gaudy and lame.

Now we have the classic green and white label back -- simple, elegant, and thoroughly visually appealing. The Genny Lager went back to the old style red and white labels a while ago (I think) but this is the first time that I have seen the change in the Cream Ale. The only thing that could gild the lily would be if I could find the stuff in the old stubby necked bottles....

You know how Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) became sort of the thing recently among your younger skinny jeans types? I think this may be happening with a lot of Upstate New York brews. Utica Club and Genny seem to be acquiring some hipster cache and people are drinking it all ironically. I find this fact endlessly amusing. 

Look at little old us... People drinking our dowdy Western/Central NY beers that we never even notice at the store. Drinking it as if this was just the thing to do no less! Well good -- all of these beers are really very decent (and certainly better than most national American lagers). The only thing that would make this situation funnier would be if some bar in Williamsburg started peddling 8 dollar cans of Utica Club. That would pretty much make my life.

In any event, I thoroughly approve of both the beer and the return to the old label style. 


  1. You can bet your boots that this will happen (i.e. the hipster commodification of Utica Club et al.). I witnessed, to my horror, similar such phenomena in the Pacific NW with such beers as Hamm's and Olympia. Don't worry, if you've never had them, you're not missing much. Genny Cream Ale is a far sight better.

  2. Genny stubby bottles can be found at beverage centers. $7.99 a 12-pack.

    1. I just discovered this today! I was excited as a little kid when I picked up what I thought was a 12 pack of cans of the lager and it jingled with glass!

    2. This spring they had Heritage Collection cases

      Maybe they will come back.

    3. I cannot believe I did not see this post until today. This is the original label from some time in the past? I thought it was an attempt to be ironic and match the packaging to people's low expectations.

      I first encountered Genesee brand around 1992 on my first trip to the Mohawk valley. I felt like I had arrived in Deliverance country and there were these billboards with these plain folks that said "Our beer". Remember? I then fell in love with Genny Creme and it has only been sweeter that my mountain relatives will not touch my screamers because they consider them downscale, so I get the whole stash for myself.

  3. It's funny, I absolutely agree the previous can design to be gaudy and lame, but I associate so much of my high school experience with that label I actually kind of miss it.


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