The cymbal smashes and that piano plays on a loop, sampled from The Charmels As Long As I Have You. That sound is as iconic as Biggie Smalls “Uhh” at the beginning of Hypnotize, the trumpet at the start of Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s They Reminisce Over You, or the guitar strums at the beginning of Nuthin’ But A G Thang.
The piano gives way to the distinctive voice of Method Man:
Cash rules everything around me.
C.R.E.A.M. get the money.
Dollar dollar bill y’all.
It’s one of hip-hop’s most recognizable rhythms, not just of the 1990s, but all-time. Wu-Tang Clan’s influence on hip-hop is immeasurable, extending beyond their Staten Island roots and influencing hip-hop artists from Kendrick Lamar to Dr. Dre.
How does this translate to beer? Follow me.
Like hip hop, beer has different variants and roots. The New England IPA was born and bred in Vermont at The Alchemist, but this generation of turbid juicebombs looks nothing like the original. The new New England IPA is hazy imperial offering dripping with tropical and citrus flavors, with Tree House, Trillium, The Veil, Monkish and Other Half leading the way.
We don’t get to Wu-Tang without Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and we don’t get the Other Half without The Alchemist.
Other Half’s ensemble rises to the top of every conversation of best and important IPA brewers.”
Located on the banks of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn’s Carrol Gardens neighborhood, Other Half is something of a phenomenon. Their limited can releases are legendary, attracting 11-hour waits and Theatre District lineholders and inspiring filmmakers. A typical Saturday sees 600 to 700 cases of beer sell in a matter of a couple hours.
While I wanted to grab a four-pack of its double dry-hopped version of the excellent Mylar Bags double IPA, it was long gone when I got there. Instead, I picked up four cans of the Wu-Tang inspired C.R.E.A.M. Get The Honey, a single-hop honey cream ale brewed in the New England style.
It pours orange to yellow with a fingerwide sticky lacing, though its looks are deceiving. On appearances, it looks thick, thanks to its opaque fruit smoothie aesthetic, but it is more a medium-weight beer. Other Half uses oats in its grain bill to give it the cloudy effect and smooth, creamy mouthfeel.
The candied orange aroma sets the stage for a beer that is sweet but not cloying. New York orange blossom honey is added, but balanced against the Mosaic hops that impart tropical, citrus flavors. It’s not a heavyweight in the alcohol department (6%), but the booze is noticeable.
Released in 2017, it was named one of the 50 best beers of the year by another website. I’m not sure if I would go that far, but it is one of the best honey-flavored beers I have purchased.
Like Wu-Tang and hip hop, Other Half’s ensemble rises to the top of every conversation of best and important IPA brewers. C.R.E.A.M. may not be the best offering by either entity, but it is certainly one that makes people take notice.