American Cream Ale is my go to summer beer. It’s a little more interesting than some of your typical lawnmower beers, but still very easy on the palate as an every day, all day drinking beer.

I’ve brewed this beer enough times to have developed a feel for what I think works well.

First of all, the heart of this style lies in the use of flaked corn as an adjunct.  The flaked corn contributes fermentables but not at the cost of body and crispness.  Flaked corn helps the base malt characters shine through. Another aspect that corn has, that other adjuncts won’t, is the corn character.  Normally, corn flavor in a beer is unwanted and I certainly agree.  But in this style of ale, you want a slight hint or touch of corn-ness to make it seem more lager like in it’s flavor character.  Using one pound in the recipe won’t create a DMS/vegetal bomb.  It will be just enough to keep that clean almost lager like fermentation profile.

Next up is the use of table sugar.  I use a pound of it. This ingredient can in some recipes be 5-10% of the total fermentables.  Using corn sugar ensures a dry beer and a dry finish.  The yeast will rip right through it getting you a couple extra degrees of attenuation and a lower FG.  The lower FG is what makes the beer very approachable and very refreshing.  There isn’t much left to keep your palate wonder, so another sip is what you’re encouraged to do.

Lastly, with a beer like this there isn’t much character in the malts and hops being used to hid things so your water choice is crucial.  Mineral-ly water will stand right out.  But improperly pH will make the beer seem flabby. So you need soft water here with just a touch of gypsum to balance things out.  50 ppm or so usually works well for me. (Of course your base water may be very different than mine).

If you’re thinking about brewing something refreshing for the summer, think about brewing an American Cream Ale.  I like to split my base malt 50/50 with pilsner and 2-row, and I stay true to the style with American Ale yeast. However, making this type of beer with a Kolsch or lager yeast would work well too. These are a couple areas I haven’t experimented with yet to any significant degree.

If you have tried Kolsch or Larger yeast for brewing American Cream Ale let us know!