Brew Dude Mike has brewed a cream ale many times over the past (almost) 20 years. He goes back to his standard recipe and plays around with the water chemistry to make a crisp, refreshing beer. If you have never heard of this style and want to brew an ale with the thirst quenching qualities of a pale lager, view this video of our review of Mike’s latest brew: a classic American Cream Ale:

Mike’s Classic American Cream Ale recipe

Mike tinkered with special ingredients in his most recently brewed cream ales. For this one, he went back to classic ingredients to brew a quality, classic version.

Grain Bill:
8 pounds of American Pilsner malt
2.25 pounds flaked corn (maize)
1 pound of white sugar

1 ounce of Liberty hops (4.5 AA%) at 60 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce of Liberty hops at 20 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce of Liberty hops at flameout

1 packet of US-05 (rehydrated)

Distilled water with these additions added to the mash
4 grams of gypsum
3 grams of calcium chloride

The starting gravity was 1.052

Notes On This Beer and Style

Initially, I was a little down on this beer. Mike has used Liberty hops in his past Cream Ales and I was looking for that flavor in the beer. Because he used distilled water and added brewing ales, the hops didn’t express themselves as brightly as they had in previous brews so I was disappointed at first.

Once we started talking about the style and what we really want in this type of beer, Mike hit all the notes perfectly. His major goal was to get the beer to finish dry and crisp and he accomplished what he set out to do.
I think the flaked maize and the sugar help to dry out the finish and the water he used kept the body light and taste crisp, even if it did mute the hop flavor.

Cream ales are a great alternative to homebrewers who do not have the equipment to brew pale lagers. The style was born out of the necessity for ale-only breweries to compete with the newly popular pilsner beers that were being brewed commercially. If you are looking for a crisp, refreshing summer beer that will please the party crowd (large and small), take a chance on a cream ale.

Brew on!