Drink in Style: Cream Ale

April 21st, 2011 · No Comments · Chris Clemetson, General Beer News

This recurring BJCP style profile series is brought to you by new SBN contributor Chris Clemetson. 

Photo of Hale's Cream Ale thanks to sheridanzig on Flickr.

This week we spotlight the Beer Judge Certificate Program (BJCP) style 6A – Cream Ale.  Cream Ale is a pre-prohibition style that falls under the light hybrid category.  The style seems to have developed in America to compete with the rising popularity of the lagered beers that were becoming popular.  They were brewed to be light but could be fermented at higher temperatures than lagers using ale yeast, or an ale and lager yeast combination.

What the BJCP style guide says:

Classic American (i.e., pre-prohibition) Cream Ales were slightly stronger, hoppier (including some dry hopping) and more bitter (25-30+ IBUs).  Most commercial examples are in the 1.050–1.053 OG range, and bitterness rarely rises above 20 IBUs.

Thoughts on the Style:

Cream Ales are an approachable style that are an easy drinking and refreshing beer.  The style is usually under 6% ABV and has a very mild hop profile.  It is light in color and has a malt profile on the sweet side, often with the addition of adjunct grains like corn and rice.  Variations of the style may have citrus and floral notes.  This is a beer that is enjoyable on a nice warm summer day (whatever that is; could we please have spring start soon?).  It is also a good beer to suggest to your macro brew drinking friends to help them venture out into craft beers.

Local examples of the style:

Hales Cream Ale can be found on tap many places around Seattle and is an excellent example of the style.  It is poured from a nitro tap giving the beer a creamy head that compliments the beer.

Other examples include:

Laughing Dog Brewing’s Cream Ale

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema


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