American Cream Ale is a favorite beer style of mine. Its the only American style I brew that competes with the English styles I brew most of the time. American Cream Ale is a great beer for the craft beer uninitiated. And for craft beer lovers, American Cream Ale is still a great everyday any occasion beer to drink. Because of its lighter flavor profile it still offers some challenge to brew well. Making it dry enough and clean enough is a good skill that can be applied to all your brews. Despite the simple grain bill you can still make some changes to the recipe and explore some different avenues.
If have largely stuck to a basic split of American 2-row and Pilsner malt with a pound of flaked corn and a pound of table sugar. I like to use Liberty hops throughout the boil. And classic California Ale yeast has been my staple yeast of choice.
I felt however that I could make some changes to better understand the flavor options available in the style. This time around I went for a grist that was almost all Pilsner Malt (continental pilsner) with only a pound of Vienna Malt…just because. I also bumped up the corn to two pounds and dropped the sugar addition. Instead relying on a low mash temp (147F) to get a good dry beer.
This time I supplemented the hop schedule with tettnang hops. I basically did an equal pairing by wait at 60minutes and 20minutes; one ounce of each at the two time points.
My last change to the recipe was the use of the White Labs Cream Ale blend (WLP080). This blend is supposedly a combination of an ale strain and a lager strain. I suspect the ale strain is kolsch yeast because I detect a soft malt edge very characteristic of that yeast. I fermented this beer at 62F to start and after 2 days rose it up to 65F. The beer fermented fine. Threw a fair amount of sulfur which I suspect to be the lager strain in there. I got good attenuation going from 1052 OG to 1011 FG. Interestingly, this yeast strain hasn’t settled out yet. The flocculation is pretty poor. Normally my cream ale would have dropped clear after a month in the keg. This batch is still pretty cloudy, albeit its getting better.
Overall the beer is just as drinkable as my original recipe. John however feels that the new hop bill lingers on the palate more than it should. The original with just Liberty is a bit crisper. I think I agree with the crisper part.
I may make a couple more adjustments next time I brew it. I like the grain bill on this one. But next time I’ll go back to predominantly Liberty Hops and ferment with just the American Ale yeast like US05. In the short term though I think I’ll keep enjoying this beer just as it is.