So I'm brewing the recipe below for my wife. (She wanted a "fruity" beer.") It was listed on beersmith.com as "Strawberry Cream Ale". I asked at the LHBS, and they confirmed what I thought, in that there was no lactose, so this isn't a true 'cream ale'. It's in the mash right now, and I was wondering, is there a way to make this into a true cream ale? How much lactose should be added for a 5 gallon batch?

As an aside, let's assume I can't make it back tot he LHBS to get lactose. Can I just use straight whole milk or heavy cream instead?

8 lbs   Pale Malt (2 Row) US 
1 lbs   Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L 
1 lbs   Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM)
1.0 oz  Cascade [5.5%] - Boil 60 min 
1 pkgs  California Ale (White Labs #WLP001)
4.00 lbs    Strawberries (Secondary 7 days)
  • 2
    There is nothing "creamy" about a cream ale. it should be crisp and dry. It uses neither milk nor cream, nor any other "creamy" ingredient. even the crystal malt in your recipe will take it out of style. And in general, never use mil or cream in your beers unless you want a rancid, infected beer.
    – Denny Conn
    Jun 2, 2014 at 17:02

2 Answers 2


I don't think lactose is desirable in a cream ale. Don't let the name fool you, cream ales have no cream or lactose or anything of the sort. They're basically American lager type beers fermented with ale yeast. Lactose would add sweetness and take away from the crisp finish most people would find desirable in this kind of beer. That's why the recipe calls for flaked corn, to minimize body and lend a crisp, dry finish: the exact opposite of what lactose would do.


Feel free to add it if you want of course!

  • The cream in the name, to me, implies a feel similar to a cream soda. Can the corn give that? It's all brewed now, so I guess I'll find out.
    – CDspace
    Jun 2, 2014 at 1:46
  • 4
    Despite the name of the style it is not creamy as this answer points out. And Corn does not contribute a creamy mouth feel either. It helps with a nearly tasteless crispness to the beer. Helps things become drier in the end. I brew a lot of Cream ale. Its a weird style name, but a great style to drink if you aren't a lager brewer. I usually don't refer to it as cream ale with my non-craft beer drinking friends. The name has an implication that you just can't shake.
    – brewchez
    Jun 2, 2014 at 12:08
  • If you still want to add the lactose anyway, I would replace the pound of corn with a pound of lactose.
    – rlshep
    Jun 5, 2014 at 13:46

In general, adding lactose will add sweetness and overall silkier/creamier mouthfeel. Perhaps you are confusing the name with milk stouts, or "cream" stouts which do use lactose to achieve this creamy mouthfeel. Milk stouts fall into a different category of BJCP, #13B, rather than #6 for cream ales. This article gives you a good idea of the flavour and usage of lactose in milk stouts.

That being said, if you want to brew to style, you shouldn't use lactose in cream ales because it works against the taste and overall mouthfeel (contrary to the name). However, if you don't care to brew to style, go for it and see what your experiment produces!

  • I think the general consensus from this question was confusion on the name. If we like this first iteration, I might experiment on later batches
    – CDspace
    Jun 9, 2014 at 5:26
  • 1
    Cream Ale is just a horrible name for the style. When I make these, I refer to them as "American Pub Ales" (I do tend to hop mine a little higher with Saaz or something similar), because the name is just ridiculous and misleading to most people that aren't judges.
    – Pietro
    Jun 12, 2014 at 15:22
  • No argument from me, which is why I tried to help clarify the topic.
    – user2264
    Jun 12, 2014 at 15:32

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