The Cream Ale beer style is a light-bodied, cold-fermented ale that has been around since the pre-Prohibition era when brewmasters brewed an American light lager as if it were an ale - occasionally using lager yeast or mixing lager and ale yeast strains to finish it off. As a result, they created a pale golden-colored ale with a low to medium head, relatively high carbonation that trails off with hints of malty sweetness.
Although the beer style has since taken on a life of its own with craft beer brewmasters throughout the country putting their personal twist on it, in order to be considered a Cream Ale by distinction, it does need to follow a few key ground rules. The ABV usually has a range of 4.0 - 8.5% and should not have a high hop presence, allowing the IBU’s to hang out between 15 - 20.
This craft beer style typically uses American ingredients with frequent adjuncts of corn or rice to mellow out the overall body of the beer. These adjuncts can occasionally influence the aroma and flavor profile of the brew, giving it a slight corny taste while also adding to the faint sweetness of the sugar and malt. The mouthfeel matches its appearance with a crisp, light and often refreshing finish. Make sure to serve it in a Pint Glass, Becker, Nonic, or a Tumbler.
We’ve featured Cream Ales in our Craft Beer of the Month Club from Grey Sail Brewing, who was awarded a Gold Medal for their flagship brew of this style, as well as from Erie Brewing, who also received a “Most Unique” distinction and a Bronze Medal. Make sure to sign up for monthly beer shipments, or give a membership as the perfect craft beer gift!
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