Cream ale is an easy-to-make beer with a smooth, creamy texture and a light, refreshing flavor.
This style of beer is perfect for any time of the year, and can be enjoyed by beer fans of all levels of expertise.
Many beer lovers have never tried a cream ale because they have never heard of the style.
If you’re one of those people, then you may be wondering what exactly makes this beer so amazing.
Cream ales are a hybrid between traditional ales and lagers.
Lagers are generally fermented at cold temperatures (40 degrees Fahrenheit), while ales are typically fermented at warmer temperatures (85-100 F).
Cream ales therefore have a lighter body and slightly less flavor than an ale, but a little more flavor than a lager.
What ingredients are used to make a cream ale?
Cream ale is a traditional beer, meaning it is made using only four ingredients: malts, hops, water and yeast.
However, there are additional ingredients that may be used in the creation of this beer.
Malts are the grains used to make beer.
This class of grains includes several different types of barley that are used in different types of beers.
Cream ale is made using a combination of primarily two types of malts: Pilsner and Vienna Pilsen.
The latter is preferred due to its ability to produce a lighter body and smooth flavor in the finished product.
Hops are the flowers used to add bitterness and flavor to a beer before it is finally boiled.
These flowers can range from low-flavoring varieties like Tettnanger, which produces pungent flavors, to high-flavoring varieties like Willamette, which can produce flavors like pineapple and mango.
(Brewers typically use 4 ounces (1/2 cup) or less of hops per barrel [46 gallons (187 L)].)
Water is also an important ingredient for cream ale as it provides a crucial part of the water-to-malt ratio in creating this beer.
The correct amount of water to malt ratio that’s being used depends on the style of beer being created.
For example, in making an English IPA you would want to use 1 pound (0.45 kg) per 5 gallons (19 L) of water.
How long does it take to brew a cream ale?
The primary characteristic that sets cream ales apart from other beers is their lighter body, as well as the high carbonation level (over 2.5 volumes).
In order to achieve this high carbonation level, cream ales are fermented at higher temperatures — about 65 F — than most other styles.
This means that the beer will take longer to ferment and will have a shorter shelf life compared to a lager, making it ideal for seasonal use.
To brew a cream ale (i.e., all-grain), you must use a specific strain of yeast known as “top-fermenting.”
This strain of yeast ferments best at temperatures between 65 F and 75 F, but not above 80 F.
If your water temperature is too cold, then the yeast may not be able to ferment efficiently.
If it’s too hot, then your beer will be over-carbonated.
The average time to make all-grain cream ales is 4 to 6 weeks.
If using extract, then you only need 3 to 4 months.
However, if using malt extract you can expect more time as the extract has less protein content and will require more time to ferment.
What is the best way to store a cream ale?
Some beer drinkers may be surprised to find out that cream ale is one of the best beers to store in your fridge.
This style of beer often has a very light body, so you really don’t need much more than room temperature storage space.
If you have an extra refrigerator on hand, or a cooler that you can keep it in, then keep your cream ale in the fridge for at least a week (or up to two weeks).
This will ensure that your cream ale stays fresh and flavorful.
If you’re only storing it for a few days, then simply placing it in the fridge and leaving it on the counter will suffice.
You can also store cream ale in a cool place outside of your home.
The reason cream ales are so good to chill is because they form a very thin layer of sediment on top of their liquid contents.
Stop by an American craft beer retailer or wholesaler and you’ll see a lot of cream ales sitting in their refrigerated cases.
Some brewers even use this layer as a means of quality control — if the cream ale sits for too long and gets too much sediment on top, then it’s not good enough for bottling.
What type of yeast is used for a cream ale?
Eisbock, a type of strong ale, is brewed with lager yeast.
Cream ales are fermented with ale yeast, giving them a lighter body and smoother, less-hoppy taste than an ale.
This yeast produces a mild fruitiness and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel.
A cream ale also uses brewer’s hops, which have a unique bitterness to them.
Unlike other varieties of hops that are used in beers, these hops have been processed to remove the oils from the hop flower (the part of the hop cone that produces the most flavor).
These hops impart the beer with all their flavorful oils while still maintaining a smooth texture and clean flavor.
What is the ideal temperature to ferment a cream ale?
As a cream ale is a hybrid of an ale and a lager, it often differs from either category.
Cream ales are commonly fermented at warmer temperatures (80-90 F), though some are fermented at cooler temperatures (50-55 F).
It’s important to choose the right fermentation temperature for your cream ale recipe if you want a successful result.
Cool temperatures during fermentation will cause your beer to become cloudy as yeast tend to clump together during cold fermentation.
If you’re looking to make a cream ale that’s light in color, then you should aim for 85-90 F.
If you want your cream ale to be lighter in color than a traditional ale, then aim for 65-75 F.
True lagers are generally kept between 40 and 45 F during fermentation.
What type of hops are used in a cream ale recipe?
Cream ales are brewed with one or more varieties of hops.
These hops impart the beer with their aromatic and bitter flavor, but they have a very low percentage of alpha acids compared to more common hop varieties such as Cascade, Centennial or Chinook.
Because of the lower alpha acids levels in the cream ale recipe, these hops are typically left on the spout for a longer period of time than hops used in other types of beer.
Cream ales are typically served at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and therefore benefit from hops that can be added later in the boil cycle and removed earlier.
This allows each batch of cream ale to foam up and leave a beautiful head on the beer.
Malt extracts or finings may also be used to help clear the foam from the beer.
What is the best temperature to serve a cream ale?
If you want to drink one of the best beers for the summer, a cream ale would be your best option.
Cream ales are a light ale, which means that they are lighter in color and body than traditional ales.
Cream ales are often served chilled and with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) content than traditional ales.
Because they are light in body and lower in alcohol, cream ales are a great choice for hot summer days.
They also have an entirely unique taste that is not found in other types of beer.
What flavors are typically found in a cream ale?
Cream ales contain a blend of pale and caramel malts, known as “milds.”
Some breweries will add a small amount of crystal malt to help give the beer its light amber color.
The milds will contribute a light, sweet maltiness, while the crystal will create a smooth, creamy mouthfeel and general sweetness.
The most important flavor to pay attention to is the kind of yeast the brewery uses.
The desired flavor is that of a lager — a clean flavor profile with little or no hop characteristics.
This is due to the fact that only lagers have the ability to ferment at cooler temperatures.
As such, cream ales tend to be very drinkable and easy-to-drink on hot summer days, when many people don’t care for hoppy beers.
What is the difference between a cream ale and a lager?
While the fermentation process is similar between ales and lagers, the base ingredients are different.
Cream ales use only malted grains (unmalted wheat and barley) and dried malt extract to achieve an ultra-light body and creamy texture.
On the other hand, lagers use a combination of malted grains and quickly chilled water to increase the alcohol content and create a crisp flavor.
Cream ales are typically lighter in color, aroma, flavor and body than lagers.
Lager beers are typically more bitter, darker in color, have more malt character and higher alcohol content.
What is the ideal ABV for a cream ale?
Cream ales tend to be lower in alcohol content than traditional ales (4.5-6 percent ABV vs. 8-12 percent).
This is because of the lower fermentation temperature.
The lower the temperature, the more natural fruity flavors you will get from the yeast.
This is why cream ale is often classified as a light beer.
Cream ales don’t have a heavy malt flavor like an ale, but they still have a slightly sweet flavor — similar to a lager.
Cream ales also tend to be less hoppy than other ales, so they are well-suited for warm weather.
A cream ale’s light body and smooth texture make it extremely easy to drink.
When you think of cream ale, you probably don’t think of it as an all-day beer, but that’s one of its greatest qualities.
- 5-gallon stock pot
- Fermenter bucket
- Grain strainer bag
- Long-handled spoon- stainless steel or plastic
- Kitchen timer
- Kitchen thermometer
- Storage bottles
- Siphoning equipment
- 1 l lb Pilsner malt
- 7 oz. cane sugar
- 1 ounce 60 minutes
- 1 ounce 10 minutes
- Wyeast 1007 German Ale yeast
- 7 gallons distilled water
Step 1: Steep The Grain
- Fill a 5-gallon saucepan halfway with water and bring it to 1500F. Put the Pilsner grain malt in a grain bag and knot the top shut. Provide some clearance at the top of the bag to allow for expansion of the grain when it comes into contact with hot water.
- Lower the grain bag into the saucepan slowly, making sure the grains are well saturated. Take the saucepan from the heat and seal for 60 minutes to extract the Pilsner grains’ smells and flavors.
- While there are many other grain options, Pilsner malt is a great choice for cream ale because it is mildly grainy and light in flavor. These characteristics combine to produce a relaxed, low-bitterness, medium-bodied beer that even a novice will enjoy drinking on a regular basis.
- When the grains have steeped for 60 minutes, open the pot and press the grain bag to drain all of the liquid from the mash. The resulting liquid is known as wort.
Step 2: Add The Hops
- As the wort comes to a boil, add the Crystal hops for 60 minutes, followed by the remainder of the hops 10 minutes before flameout.
- Return the wort-containing stock pot to the stovetop and bring to a boil over high heat. After the wort begins to boil, add the first 1 ounce of hops and set the timer for 60 minutes.
- Let the wort and hops combination to boil for 50 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, add the remaining ounce of hops to the boiling pot of wort. Let the solution to boil for the remaining 10 minutes, covered.
- Turn off the heat and set aside to chill the hop and wort mixture. The liquid should cool to less than 700°F. This is the best temperature for yeast activity. When temperatures are too hot, the yeast dies, and when temperatures are too low, the yeast does not activate properly.
Step 3: Add Yeast To The Solution
- Transfer the wort to a sterilized fermentation bucket first. Avoid disturbing the residue that has settled at the bottom of the stock pot. You want your cream ale to be clear, as opposed to cloudy, which is frequent with homemade beers.
- Split the yeast packet in half, pour the contents into the wort, and stir for a few minutes to incorporate the yeast. After sealing the fermenter bucket, insert the airlock into the lid’s grommet hole.
Step 4: Let The Wort Ferment
- Shake the fermenter bucket after adding yeast to the wort to aerate it. This will provide much-needed oxygen to the yeast for cell growth and enhanced fermentation.
- The fermenter bucket should then be stored in a moderately warm location where the temperature is normally around 670F. Keep this bucket out of direct sunlight and in a quiet environment.
- You will notice bubbles rising in the airlock 48 hours after pitching the yeast. This indicates that fermentation is occurring and that the yeast is converting the liquid into carbon dioxide (the bubbles) and alcohol.
- Secondary fermentation takes two to three weeks to complete.
Step 5: Carbonate The Beer
- You must carbonate your beer before transferring it to drinking bottles. The resulting beer is flat after fermentation, but carbonation will give zip to your cream ale.
- Cane sugar will be used to carbonate your beer. To prepare the sugar, combine 5 oz of cane sugar with two glasses of distilled water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let the priming solution cool.
- Pour the chilled priming sugar solution into the fermenter bucket with the beer and gently stir. Let this to rest for around 30 minutes before bottling your beer.