Aroma: Medium-low to low malt notes, with a sweet, cornlike aroma. Low levels of DMS are allowable, but are not 2 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines – 2015 Edition required. Hop aroma medium low to none, and can be of any variety although floral, spicy, or herbal notes are most common. Overall, a subtle aroma with neither hops nor malt dominating. Low fruity esters are optional.
Appearance: Pale straw to moderate gold color, although usually on the pale side. Low to medium head with medium to high carbonation. Fair head retention. Brilliant, sparkling clarity.
Flavor: Low to medium-low hop bitterness. Low to moderate maltiness and sweetness, varying with gravity and attenuation. Usually well-attenuated. Neither malt nor hops dominate the palate. A low to moderate corny flavor is commonly found, as is light DMS (optional). Finish can vary from somewhat dry to faintly sweet. Low fruity esters are optional. Low to mediumlow hop flavor (any variety, but typically floral, spicy, or herbal).
Mouthfeel: Generally light and crisp, although body can reach medium. Smooth mouthfeel with medium to high attenuation; higher attenuation levels can lend a “thirst quenching” quality. High carbonation.
Impression: A clean, well-attenuated, flavorful American “lawnmower” beer. Easily drinkable and refreshing, with more character than typical American lagers.
Comments: Pre-prohibition Cream Ales were slightly stronger, hoppier (including some dry hopping) and more bitter (25-30+ IBUs). These versions should be entered in the historical category. Most commercial examples are in the 1.050–1.053 OG range, and bitterness rarely rises above 20 IBUs.
Ingredients: American ingredients most commonly used. A grain bill of six-row malt, or a combination of six-row and North American two-row, is common. Adjuncts can include up to 20% maize in the mash, and up to 20% glucose or other sugars in the boil. Any variety of hops can be used for bittering and finishing.
Commercial Examples: Genesee Cream Ale, Liebotschaner Cream Ale, Little Kings Cream Ale, New Glarus Spotted Cow, Old Style, Sleeman Cream Ale