Style Details

Name
Cream Ale
Cate­go­ry
Stan­dard Ame­ri­can Beer
BJCP Style Code
1 C
Appearan­ce
Pale straw to mode­ra­te gold color, alt­hough usual­ly on the pale side. Low to medi­um head with medi­um to high car­bo­na­ti­on. Fair head reten­ti­on. Bril­li­ant, spar­k­ling cla­ri­ty.
Aro­ma
Medi­um-low to low malt notes, with a sweet, corn-like aro­ma. Low levels of DMS are allo­wa­ble, but are not requi­red. Hop aro­ma medi­um low to none, and can be of any varie­ty alt­hough flo­ral, spi­cy, or her­bal notes are most com­mon. Over­all, a sub­t­le aro­ma with neit­her hops nor malt domi­na­ting. Low frui­ty esters are optio­nal.
Fla­vour
Low to medi­um-low hop bit­ter­ness. Low to mode­ra­te mal­ti­ness and sweet­ness, vary­ing with gra­vi­ty and atte­nua­ti­on. Usual­ly well-atte­nua­ted. Neit­her malt nor hops domi­na­te the pala­te. A low to mode­ra­te cor­ny fla­vor is com­mon­ly found, as is light DMS (optio­nal). Finish can vary from some­what dry to faint­ly sweet. Low frui­ty esters are optio­nal. Low to medi­um-low hop fla­vor (any varie­ty, but typi­cal­ly flo­ral, spi­cy, or her­bal).
Mouth­feel
Gene­ral­ly light and crisp, alt­hough body can reach medi­um. Smooth mouth­feel with medi­um to high atte­nua­ti­on; hig­her atte­nua­ti­on levels can lend a “thirst quen­ching” qua­li­ty. High car­bo­na­ti­on.
Over­all Impres­si­on
A clean, well-atte­nua­ted, fla­vor­ful Ame­ri­can “lawn­mower” beer. Easi­ly drin­ka­ble and refres­hing, with more cha­rac­ter than typi­cal Ame­ri­can lagers.
Typi­cal Ingre­dients
Ame­ri­can ingre­dients most com­mon­ly used. A grain bill of six-row malt, or a com­bi­na­ti­on of six-row and North Ame­ri­can two-row, is com­mon. Adjuncts can inclu­de up to 20% mai­ze in the mash, and up to 20% glu­co­se or other sug­ars in the boil. Any varie­ty of hops can be used for bit­te­ring and finis­hing.
Histo­ry
A spar­k­ling or pre­sent-use ale that exis­ted in the 1800s and sur­vi­ved pro­hi­bi­ti­on. An ale ver­si­on of the Ame­ri­can lager style. Pro­du­ced by ale bre­wers to com­pe­te with lager bre­wers in Cana­da and the Nor­the­ast, Mid-Atlan­tic, and Mid­west sta­tes. Ori­gi­nal­ly known as spar­k­ling or pre­sent use ales, lager strains were (and some­ti­mes still are) used by some bre­wers, but were not his­to­ri­cal­ly mixed with ale strains. Many examp­les are kräu­se­ned to achie­ve car­bo­na­ti­on. Cold con­di­tio­ning isn’t tra­di­tio­nal, alt­hough modern bre­wers some­ti­mes use it.
Comments
Pre-pro­hi­bi­ti­on Cream Ales were slight­ly stron­ger, hop­pier (inclu­ding some dry hop­ping) and more bit­ter (25-30+ IBUs). The­se ver­si­ons should be ent­e­red in the his­to­ri­cal cate­go­ry. Most com­mer­cial examp­les are in the 1.050–1.053 OG ran­ge, and bit­ter­ness rare­ly rises abo­ve 20 IBUs.
Com­mer­cial Examp­les
Gene­see Cream Ale, Lie­bot­scha­ner Cream Ale, Litt­le Kings Cream Ale, New Gla­rus Spot­ted Cow, Old Style, Slee­man Cream Ale
Ori­gi­nal Gra­vi­ty
1.042 - 1.055 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.006 - 1.012 SG
Color
2 - 5 SRM
Alco­hol
4.0 - 5.0 %vol
Bit­ter­ness
8 - 20 IBU