Wolf’s Ridge Brewing took their Clear Sky cream ale and managed to infused it with delicious coffee flavor, naming it Daybreak in the process. How they managed to do this without making the beer look like coffee, I have yet to determine, but all of my current research points to either magical elves, or blood magic. Whatever it may be, Daybreak manages to take the tasty, yet admittedly boring cream ale, and turn it into a beer that is straight up bursting with flavor. And that’s what elves and blood magic is all about.
On the nose, Daybreak is coffee forward, supported by a faint hint of almonds. Notes of raisins add a touch of dark fruit, while toffee and caramel add some sweet complexity. The corn is present but not annoying (in fact, it’s the perfect “cream ale corniness”). At the end of each breath, and beneath the rest of the aroma, there are some subtle esters of pears and cherries, working quite well with the raisin presence. There was little vanilla that I could detect (or, it was not present enough to rise above the other aromas), but I didn’t mind. The complexity was great without becoming confusing, and the consistent coffee base was awesomely enjoyable.
For your palate, Daybreak brings the same cold-brew coffee vibe, along with just enough sweetness to hide the harsh roast traditionally associated with “coffee beer”. Notes of cinnamon and cacao rise up now and then, fleeting and mysterious, but enough to make you take another sip just to be sure. Hints of vanilla are muted, but contribute just enough to give a “coffee with cream” experience. The raisin returns, as do the cherries and pears, smooth in flavor, but not a traditional “fruit” experience. They’re more like sprinkles to the base coffee cream ale cake. Corn makes it self known once more, alongside gentle malt flavors of caramel and crackers which help hold up the coffee flavors, and keep the beer from becoming too thin. In fact, there is a decent amount of body with this beer, which acts as a great vessel for this much flavor.
Clear Sky Daybreak is basically a ninja — sneaking brazen flavors of coffee into the simple tastiness that is a cream ale. As a super pale, low ABV ale, it has a number of stout-like characteristics, yet it still manages to showcase the classic crisp, slightly corny cream ale nuances within those big coffee vibes. It’s a stout in cream ale clothing. And, it’s a perfect drink for the long, hot days of late summer – bold and refreshing, but not sobriety crushing.