Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Cream Ale Recipe

Light and crisp; American Cream Ale is a great light, no-frills beer to make for the summer. Done right, it will rival all the American Lagers your swill drinking friends drink and you’ll be making yourself on the cheap. The best part of American Cream Ale is that it is an ale!!!! You don’t need to lager or cold ferment which takes a dedicated fridge to do it right.

Fire up the brew kettles and give this Cream Ale a shot. I modified the recipe from Jamil’s “Brewing Classic Styles” to use Nobel Saaz hops. I wanted it to have a little more of that European lager like quality to confuse my light beer drinking friends and family (Oh you know who you are). The key to brewing a great cream ale is the neutral qualities of American Ale yeast. I use US-05 dry yeast from Fermentis, but I used it from a slurry off a previous beer. I love that yeast as a second pitch yeast. It is so clean. Much cleaner than I have ever gotten out of a White Labs WLP001 from a starter. (though I am sure that repitching WLP001 if you have it would be just as clean). Focus on a good pitch of super healthy yeast and your Cream ale will be so clean and crisp, you’ll probably brew it several times a year just to slake your thirst.

Mike’s All-grain American Cream Ale Recipe

BJCP Style 6A

Size: 6.0 gal
Efficiency: 70.0%
Attenuation: 80.0%
Original Gravity: 1.052
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 3.3
Alcohol: 5.5%
Bitterness: 17.85

Ingredients:
5 lbs Pilsner Malt
5 lbs 2-Row Brewers Malt
1 lbs Corn Flaked (Maize)
1 lbs White Table Sugar (Sucrose)
0.85 oz Saaz (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min
0.5 oz Saaz (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 2 min
2 tsp Irish Moss – added during boil, boiled 15 min
1 ea Fermentis US-05
Mash In -152 °F

John’s Partial Mash Cream Ale Recipe

4 lbs. American 2-row Pale
0.25 lbs. American Caramel 10°L
3 lbs. Dry Extra Light Extract
0.50 lbs. Flaked Corn
0.5 oz. Cluster Pellets boiled 60 min.
0.5 oz. Cascade Pellets boiled 15 min.
WYeast 1056 American Ale

Check out the cream ale brewing notes on this partial mash recipe.

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21 Comments

  1. Why would you only use Cluster in the future? I enjoy the clean bitterness of Cascade but did it give the beer too much of a pine flavor/aroma? Also, did you use any fining agents? Do you think this would help with the clarity issue?

  2. I would use only Cluster in the future for a few different reasons. From the research I have done on the style, this is one of the only styles created in America…so I thought Cluster would make it more “American” because it’s the variety with the longest history of it being grown here in the States. So, it’s more of an authenticity thing than a taste thing. When I post my style profile, we’ll learn that not much is known about cream ales because a lot of the information about how they were brewed and what ingredients were used was lost due to Prohibition….so even my authenticity platform is shaky.

    The second reason is that I feel Cascade is used a lot by microbreweries and home brewers and I wanted to do something different.

    It would be interesting just to understand the Cluster hop profile to see if I like it since I really don’t have much experience with it (that I know of).

    Lastly, The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style guidelines states that the hop aroma should be low to none. The Cascade hops may produce too much aroma…but I could probably control that by when I put them into the boil. So, maybe this is a moot point…since the guidelines are based on what little we know of the style.

    I used some Irish Moss in the boil when I brewed it last spring. I guess it didn’t work well enough. When I brew this beer again, I’ll take the 90 minute boil approach like I mentioned. If I still have clarity problems, I probably break down and add PolyClar to the secondary fermentation vessel.

  3. Aaron

    I think Jamil recommends a 90 minute boil any time you’re using pilsener malt to drive off the DMS.

  4. Mike

    Aaron:
    A 90 minute boil is my standard boil length period. But I agree with the DMS issues and that using pilsner malts requires the longer boil off to get out the DMS.

    I try to get all my boils going, let them roll for 30 minutes, then I start my 60 min hop additions.

  5. Dan F

    Hi, I bookmarked this page a few weeks ago and I am considering moving forward with the partial mash recipe. I am curious as to your opinion on substituting flaked barley for the flaked corn in that recipe. Any thoughts?

  6. Flaked corn or maize is an ingredient that the Pre-Prohibition cream ale brewers used so it fits the style.

    I am not sure Flaked barley would have a desired effect on the beer. It is used to add body and aid in head retention, but it also can make a beer cloudy when used in amounts over 3% of the grain bill.

    Personally, I wouldn’t use flaked barley in a Cream Ale recipe because I am trying to make a crystal clear, light beer with this recipe. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try using it in your recipe, you can brew what you want. I just don’t think it fits.

  7. Dan F

    Hi John,

    TY For the info. I’m with you on trying to keep with ingredients that fit the style, however, I have brewed some extract kits thus far and wasnt happy with the results. I always felt the beers were too thin, thats why I was leaning towards the flaked barley instead of the corn. I may brew a batch each way and come back with the results.

  8. Dan F

    I brewed last weekend using your recipe as a guide. I made some changes and I posted the experience over at: http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/1931799

    If you’re interested.

  9. Looks good. I commented on BA. Let us know how it turned out.

  10. Dan F

    Hey!

    I dont know if you followed my thread on BA, but I had a problem with my brew. The brew water was contaminated. It did smell tasty though. I will try again next week.

  11. Sorry to hear about that. Good luck on your next cream ale brew.

  12. FunkEnet

    When do you add the sugar? I have a recipe with the exact same grain bill but I haven’t yet added the sugar. Its been in the fermentor two days and I am waiting for the yeast to eat the maltos and other sugars before I add my table sugar. Is this a good idea or not?

  13. The table sugar in Mike’s recipe should be added to the boil. If you want to use table (white) sugar for priming , check out this page:

    http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter11-4.html

  14. Dan F

    My second attempt at this partial mash cream ale recipe turned out pretty awesome!

    I deviated from Johns recipe in three ways, 1: I used the Wyeast American Ale II yeast at the lowest temp they recommended, 60 degrees. 2: I mistakenly used 1/2 lbs of the Caramel L10. 3: I used two ounces of the US Saaz hops.

    I fermented for three weeks in the primary, and they’re in their second week of bottle conditioning. When I pulled a couple of bottles at the one week mark, they were very malty and sweet, now at the end of the second week, the sweetness is gone and hop flavor is starting to dominate. The color is a bit more golden than is appropriate, probably from the extra caramel l10. No chill haze, beautiful bubbles, nice head that fades to a thin layer on top of the beer. Using the Wyeast American Ale II didnt produce anything crazy, and its floccuation characteristics gave me a fairly clear beer.

    If anyone has any interest in talking about this style, I keep this thread bookmarked.

    Laters.

  15. Bill

    At what temperatures did you do your primary and secondary and for how long. I was considering cold conditioning mine.

  16. Primary temps should be on the low end of the yeast’s optimal range. I think I primaried mine between 60 and 65 for a week. If I brew it again, I would leave it for 2 weeks in the primary.

    Secondary cold conditioning should be at refrigerator temperatures around 34F. I have read that it could be conditioned for up to 4 months! I would say at least two weeks…but two months is probably ideal if you can wait that long. That’s how long I did it for. Check out the notes for this brew:

    http://www.brew-dudes.com/brewing-notes-cream-ale/263

  17. Moses

    Even if your efficiency is really low, that 10 lbs. of malt is going to give you 5 points of gravity. Add the corn and then the sugar and you have a beer stronger than 5.5%. That said, I will be using your recipe as a guide for my next batch. As soft as pilsner and 2-row are, I am going to bitter a little more. Saflager S-23 at just under 60F should fruit it up a bit, so a little more hop should be there in mine. Flaked corn is a modern product. The originals used cooked corn. They boiled corn meal to burst the starch. Add corn meal to the barley after boiling for ~15 min. Brooklyn’s pre-prohibitions were hoppier- to the 30s IBU. See styles on http://www.brewingtechniques.com. Good thread.

  18. Michael from Queensland

    I use maize in the form of Polenta, at the rate of 25% of the grain bill (Pale Pilsener plus some Carapils) and find that a truly brilliant hop for a cream ale is Galena, 20g added for a full 90 minutes. I cook the polenta to a runny mush and add it at sacch rest temperature.

  19. Ich Weiss Koln

    Das Kream Ale ist Wunderbar!

  20. Phill

    Hello,
    So on my brew of this recipe I pulled a Mike and changed it up. I’m pretty new to all grain, and I wanted to experience a simple malt bill. I went 8 lb 2-row and 2 lb flaked maize with a mash at 147 F. I also followed the hop bill Mike talks about elsewhere which is Liberty; mine was 1 oz at 60, 0.5 at 15 and 0.5 at FO. I guess this is brewing on the ones which was described in one of the brew dudes videos.

    Let me say, I can see why this is a regular in Mike’s kegerator! This is an easy drinker which I can’t see lasting more than 2 weeks in the keg. This was also the first time I’ve used dry yeast, and I was very pleased with the result; forums tend to imply dry yeast are sub par, but I have obviously found this to be a keeper.
    Cheers!
    PS Because Mike changes this recipe around so much I wonder which is the regular rotation version or if he changes it up every time.

  21. Brew on – I think he changes it up a little bit each time.

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