Temp for Cream Ale

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Temp for Cream Ale

Postby GMAC » Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:39 pm

I'm looking for some guidance on the right temp for brewing a cream ale. My understanding is that a cream ale is an ale brewed at roughly lager brewing temps. Any suggestion what that is? I know it's cool but how cool? <40? < 50? Do you brew it cooler for the whole fermentation or after it goes into a secondary?

Also, I've been looking for an ale yeast that would be good for this. I've found lists of yeast but nothing that seems to be specifically suited for a cream ale. I'd go with a liquid yeast if I had a choice.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Cream Ale

Postby slothrob » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:11 am

The classic Cream Ale yeast is the American Ale yeast, WLP001, WY1056 or US-05. White Labs makes a Cream Ale blend, WLP080, that is probably a blend of WLP001 their San Francisco Steam Beer Lager yeast, and maybe another yeast, but I've never tried it. The best Cream Ale (by far) I ever had was made by the Cambridge Brewing Company with WLP001.

I've used WY029, Koelsch yeast, and WY1007, Alt yeast to make Cream Ales; the Koelsch yeast just turns it into a Koelsch but the Alt yeast makes a very nice dry Cream Ale.

A Cream Ale isn't brewed at quite Lager temperatures, since none of those yeasts will ferment effectively at 45-50F. For Hybrid beers like this I usually start fermentation at 58F, to keep the beer clean, then ramp up to 62F as the fermentation starts to slow, to ensure the fermentation goes to completion. For a cool fermentation, I recommend a big starter if you use liquid yeast.

It's important that you give the beer a few extra days on the yeast to finish cleaning up, once fermentation finishes, since you are pushing the limits of the yeast. Then, it's traditional to lager the beer for a couple weeks, or more, at 32-40F. It will probably take some cold aging (also known as lagering) to completely drop the yeast clear, since all these yeasts flocculate poorly, but if the fermentation was very clean, you probably won't need much if any lagering to make a great beer.
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Cream ale

Postby GMAC » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:36 am

My basement temp is about 65 degrees right now. I don't have anything to warm or cool the fermenter although it appears I may need something based on your comments. Is this too warm? I can possibly find a cooler place in the basement to get it down a big more but not much.
What if I ferment it with Ale yeast until fermentation slows and then move it into cold storage (3 degrees C) in the cold cellar? Do I need to rack it into a secondary before cooling? Should I let it slow but not stop and then rack it and cool it so that there is a bit of on-going fermentation?

I haven't had tremendous success with my last two brews because of mis-information regarding boiling grains so I'd like to start yet another and try to get it right this time.

My current brew is an extract brew using Wyeast California Lager yeast and it smells and looks good but is also cloudy. I'd like to try one more (and then I'm out of carboys) to see if I can get a clearer beer.
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Cream Ale temperatures

Postby slothrob » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:49 am

65F is pretty good, if not ideal, in my experience. That yeast is very clean, but you might get some fruity flavors if the fermentation manages to push the temperature in the carboy a few degrees warmer, which it usually does.

I manage to get a few degrees cooler than the air in my cellar by setting the carboy on the concrete floor of my cellar, you could try that. These temperatures would still probably make a decent beer, just not as clean a flavor as you might hope. Pitching more yeast, say by using 1/4-1/2 of the yeast cake from a previous beer, or making a starter, will help make a cleaner beer by reducing the amount that the yeast needs to grow in the beer.

These are great temperatures for a British beer or even most American style beers, but you're trying to make a very lightly flavored beer, in a Cream Ale, that will show off flavors easily and not benefit from them.

Lagering the beer in the cold will definitely help clean up the beer, just make sure it is completely done fermenting before you chill it. Watch out for apple or butter flavors that would indicate it needs to stay warm a little longer. One big benefit of the cold is that it will drop out that dusty American Ale yeast, and maybe some tannins, which will make the beer clearer and taste cleaner.

However, you want to keep the beer "warm" until fermentation is completely done (not just slowed) then a few days more. 1.5-2 weeks isn't a bad estimate. Then, it depends on how long you want to try lagering it, whether you want to transfer it to another carboy. If you want to just give it a week or two to drop the yeast, you could leave it in the original carboy. If longer, I would start considering a secondary.
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