Recipe: Cream Ale

Here’s a recipe for an “Old School Cream Ale”, with a little something extra: toasted oats and a dash of salt. Both were ideas I got from Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing, which is a superb homebrewing book and one that you must have on your bookshelf if you brew beer.

I’m not kidding. You must have that book.

Anyway, I wanted to keep this very light, which can be tricky for an extract-based recipe as this is, so I used only dry extracts (no liquid this time) and only boiled for 30 minutes to minimize caramelization. It’s a five gallon batch.


  • 3 pounds light dried malt extract
  • 1 pound dried wheat extract (Briess)
  • 1 pound corn sugar
  • 8 ounces 10°L Crystal malt
  • 8 ounces toasted rolled oats
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ ounce Crystal hops (4.6% alpha acid) for 30 minutes
  • ¼ ounce Crystal hops (4.6%) for 15 minutes
  • Yeast: 1 package of Cooper’s Ale dry yeast

I toasted the oats in the oven for 1 hour at 300°F. Mosher in his book recommends toasting until you get a cookie aroma, so I was shooting for something like that. After an hour the oats had a nice toasted nutty flavor to them.

Add the toasted oats and the Crystal malt to the water as it heats and remove them before boiling. Add salt at the time of the malts and sugar; another Mosher trick, salt can be used to add (the illusion of) body to the mouthfeel, so I thought I’d try it.

Remember, only boil for 30 minutes.

Also, the yeast: I normally use Wyeast liquid yeast these days, but I wanted to go “old school” here too and I haven’t tried dried yeast packets in ages. (Also, I’m exploring inexpensive brewing, and the Cooper’s dry yeast was something like $1.50 for the package, while the Wyeast these days runs for $6.50 or something.) I actually made up a starter for the yeast to be sure: 500ml water-corn sugar mixture, nothing fancy.

It sat in the primary for 9 days, with a very vigorous fermentation, and then in the secondary for 14 days before bottling. I primed it with ¾ cup of corn sugar.

My original gravity was 1.046, and the final gravity was 1.005, which astounded me, as I can’t recall ever having a beer ferment out that low. This yields an approximate alcohol by volume of 5.4%, which is a good percentage point higher than I was expecting.