Brewing a Classic Cream Ale: Your Step-by-Step Home Brewing Guide

The Cream Ale, with its light body and smooth finish, is a beloved style among beer drinkers who appreciate a beer that’s both refreshing and sessionable.

This post provides a comprehensive guide for home brewers looking to craft a 6-gallon batch of Cream Ale, following a tried-and-true recipe that promises delightful results.

Exploring the Cream Ale Style

Cream Ale is a uniquely American beer style that was developed as a response to the rising popularity of lagers among U.S. beer drinkers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ales at that time were perceived as heavier and less refined compared to the clean, crisp lagers.

To compete, ale brewers began to produce lighter and more refreshing beers that retained the ale yeast fermentation process but adopted some of the characteristics of lagers, such as cold fermentation and conditioning.

Cream Ales are known for their light body and low to moderate bitterness. They often feature a combination of ale and lager traits, creating a versatile and approachable beer. This style is generally pale in color and has a slightly sweet, malty flavor balanced by a mild hop presence.

Recipe Details and Ingredients 
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  • Batch Size: 6 gallons (fermentor volume)
  • Boil Time: 60 minutes
  • Original Gravity: 1.053
  • Final Gravity: 1.013
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • IBUs: 18
  • SRM: 4.7
  • Efficiency: 70% (brew house)
  • 7 lb US – Pale 2-Row: Provides a clean and neutral malt base.
  • 2 lb American – White Wheat: Enhances the head retention and lends a slight smoothness to the mouthfeel.
  • 0.50 lb Flaked Corn: Lightens the body and adds a subtle sweetness.
  • 0.50 lb American – Caramel / Crystal 20L: Imparts a mild caramel flavor and contributes to the golden color.
  • 0.50 lb American – Carapils (Dextrine Malt): Increases foam stability without significantly altering flavor.
  • 0.25 lb Flaked Barley: Adds body and creaminess.
  • 1 lb Honey: Added late in the boil for a touch of sweetness and to boost the alcohol content without making the beer heavy.
  • Cascade (0.50 oz, Boil 60 min): Provides a floral and citrus backbone, contributing the bulk of the bitterness.
  • Cascade (0.50 oz, Boil 20 min): Adds flavor complexity with additional citrus notes.
  • Saaz (0.50 oz, Boil 5 min): Offers a mild spicy note, rounding out the hop profile.
  • Wyeast – Kölsch 2565: This yeast strain is a great choice for producing clean and smooth Cream Ales with a slightly fruity note that complements the malt and hop flavors.

Brewing Process

  1. Mashing: Heat your water to about 154°F and mash the grains for 60 minutes to achieve a good enzymatic conversion.
  2. Boiling: Follow the hop schedule as listed, starting with Cascade for bittering and finishing with Saaz for aroma.
  3. Fermentation: Cool the wort to about 65°F before pitching the Kölsch yeast. Ferment at this temperature until the final gravity is reached.
  4. Conditioning: Cold condition the beer at about 35°F for a few weeks to improve clarity and flavor stability.

Tips for Success

The Joy of Home Brewing

Brewing your own Cream Ale offers a rewarding experience as you delve into a style that embodies a significant part of American brewing history. With its light body and refreshing nature, a well-brewed Cream Ale can be a delightful addition to any homebrewer’s repertoire.

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2 thoughts on “Brewing a Classic Cream Ale: Your Step-by-Step Home Brewing Guide”

  1. Hi there
    I am really enjoying your posts. I would like to suggest a small improvement,
    would it be possible to include metric conversions in your recipes. This is only a suggestion and not a criticism.
    Cheers Grant Porter

    • Thanks Grant, appreciate the feedback, I will see what I can do moving forward Cheers!


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