Cream ales are silky, drinkable, and perfect for warmer weather. But let’s get one thing straight – they do not contain milk products. Cream simply refers to the smooth mouthfeel of this cold-fermented ale.
In the late 19th century, the stream of German immigrants to the United States increased the popularity of lager and pilsner beer styles. Though brewers in the Northeast were brewing mostly ales at the time, they decided to strategize to keep up with the trend.
The resulting beer was a cold-fermented ale, then referred to as a “present-use ale” – as in the beer was meant to be enjoyed rapidly and not meant to sit on the shelf. Like the German Kölsch beer style, the present-use ale was light bodied, balanced, and had fewer fruity esters.
Now known as a “cream ale”, this style is often fermented like an ale, then stored at colder temperatures like a lager. Some brewers use both ale and lager yeasts to brew their cream ale.
This hybrid is crisp like a light pale lager, with the aromatic characteristics of an ale. They are light in color, heavily carbonated, and tend to be more hopped than a light lager. Unlike Kölsch beer, cream ales contain rice and/or corn adjuncts to achieve that light body and smooth mouthfeel.
More than anything, cream ales are known for being light, refreshing, and drinkable.
Low malt notes, low hop aroma, sweet & corn-like, some fruity esters
Pale straw to moderate gold color. High carbonation with a low to medium head. Sparkling Clarity.
Low hop bitterness, moderate maltiness and sweetness, light corny flavor. Neither malt nor hops dominates. Dry and faintly sweet.
8 – 20
2.5 – 5
4.2 – 5.6%