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What Is A Cream Ale?

In the 1800s, a bright sparkling ale came into existence and eventually survived the American prohibition. American brewers had created a new beer style called ‘Cream Ale’ to compete with lager brewers in North America. Originally called sparkling or present use ales, Cream Ales have become quite popular due to their lager like characteristics. So what exactly is a Cream Ale?

Cream Ale is an ale version of the American lager. Despite its name, Cream Ale does not contain any dairy or lactose. It is just a reference to the beer’s silky taste or richness over a traditional American Lager. The smooth mouthfeel, balanced with high carbonation and a low strength, make for a very drinkable session beer.


The inception of Cream Ale dates back to the 1840s when a bunch of American brewers decided to rival the popular European-brewed lagers. This was done by crafting a similar style to a Lager but fermented with Ale (top-fermenting) yeast strains. Some brewers use both ale and lager yeasts to brew their Cream Ale.Think of this style as a hybrid between a lager and ale.8 Pre-prohibition Cream Ales were slightly stronger, hoppier and more bitter than the modern ones.

Similar to other American beer styles, Cream Ale uses pale malts along with adjuncts such as flaked corn, maize and other simple sugars. In addition to this, old school hops like Cluster, Brewer’s Gold and Liberty are included as well.

Food Pairing

For light and refreshing beers, salads can be an ideal match. As Cream Ales have a similar flavour profile of an American Lager, they are perfect for pairing with plenty of lighter foods such as chicken salad, spring rolls, french fries, chips & Salsa, Monterey jack cheese and light apricot or a mandarin cake. The key here is to look for dishes which are lighter in intensity.

Cream Ale pairs harmoniously well with nachos and salsa

Vital Stats

ABV: 4.2% – 5.6%

IBU: 8 – 20

SRM: 2.5 – 5


A beer connoisseur who is passionate for all things beer. Abhinav has spent majority of his time working with American home-brew clubs to gain extensive knowledge on beer brewing, style history and sensory skills. He also holds Cicerone's - Certified Beer Server tag and plans to take next levels in the near future.

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