Updating a Classic – Chicago Cream, Revisited

One of the best feelings in the world is to catch up with an old friend – to rekindle a spark of a connection. The same is true for the things we make and the love that we put into them. Over time, we all change and so do those relationships. Recently, Wall Brew Co. took a look at one of our most popular recipes: Chicago Cream. This time, we made some updates, some tweaks, and overall optimizations. Needless to say, we’re thrilled with the result.

But why make any changes?

The world is constantly changing, between supply lines, prices, and tastes – brewers need to be nimble in their approach to brewing at times. We wanted to test our ability to retain the status of one of our most popular brews while reducing the complexity involved in the recipes. This typically means a reduction in number of specialty grains and the quantities of those remaining in the recipe. The largest differences for this update? We eliminated the Biscuit malt, used one of our favorite yeasts, and fermented for two weeks in primary without a secondary fermentation. Here’s the beersmith breakdown for those interested:

How’d it go?

If our first paragraph didn’t give it away – this was a smashing success. We largely captured the same flavor profile as our first iteration, even with the changes. The Honey malt shined through a bit more and complimented the larger corn additions – creating a wonderfully subtle sweetness that the unaffected hop schedule balanced extremely well.

This also was an instance of Nick’s maxims ringing true: you can’t taste clarity. While the Clarity Ferm did its job extremely well, the lack of a secondary fermentation is pretty obvious to me. However, it imparts an interesting velvety feel to the drink. Though perhaps that’s my obsession with clarity surfacing.

Finally, the yeast. If there’s anything that I end up obsessing about as a brewer is crazy kinds of yeast. Omega Yeast’s Lutra is far and away my favorite, especially because of its batshit insane (pardon the language) tolerance range. With a range of 68–95° F, the reader should hopefully forgive my language, because they’ve likely exclaimed something similar. This yeast has a flavor profile that is entirely unoffensive at almost any temperature – making it perfect for a lazy pseudo-lagering (about half of the cream ale style). As a practice in simplicity, this yeast may have been the MVP of this experiment.

Will you Tweak it Again?

Maybe. While the Wall Brew team is extremely proud of this updated recipe, we keep all of our old recipes around and constantly challenge the current iterations. In fact, we are about to bottle one of our very first recipes: Triple B. This one is wholly unchanged – but we haven’t made it in almost 4 years.

Until next time, friends.