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Old 07-01-2013, 04:03 AM   #1
Krid
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Default American Pale Ale vs. Cream Ale vs. Blonde Ale

What are the fundamental differences?

Discuss.

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Old 07-01-2013, 10:06 AM   #2
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Color. Taste. Ingredients. Spelling.

The list goes on and on...

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Old 07-01-2013, 11:45 AM   #3
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You could look up the BJCP style guidelines for how they define the different styles. Here's how I see them differently.

A cream ale to me is a light, well attenuated lawnmower beer with balanced but faint malt and hop flavors. I would make it with 2-row and corn or rice adjuncts and maybe even some corn sugar to dry it out. It would be best served near freezing on a hot day, just like a light American lager from one of the big breweries.

A blonde ale would be similar, but I would make it with all malt and the flavor would lean more towards the malt side. When making a blonde ale, I use only bittering hops and keep the IBU low so that the malt flavor shines. I use brewers 2-row and some other malt like pale malt, Vienna, or Munich to bring out the maltiness a bit more, but it would still be light in color and flavor.

Those two, I think are similar enough that some commercial brewers aren't even sure which of the two they are making. A pale ale to me is a completely different beer. The hops would dominate the flavor. You may have a stronger malt backbone to balance it out, but the hops would clearly dominate the flavor profile. My pale ales have hop additions throughout the boil and are dry hopped, so I expect pale ales to have great hop flavor and aroma, but less than an IPA.

This is how I see them differently. Also, neither of these would have much yeast character, so I would use a clean American ale yeast and ferment on the colder side.

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Old 07-01-2013, 02:10 PM   #4
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I did go through the BJCP guidelines via Beersmith, and despite the differences it seems like there is at least some potential for overlap. So in a nutshell:

Cream Ale - mandatory corn / adjunct, low maltiness, low hoppiness

Blonde Ale - all malt grainbill, moderate maltiness, low hoppiness

Pale Ale - all malt grainbill, moderate maltiness to balance moderate to decent hoppiness (with "high" hoppiness being reserved for IPAs)

Thanks for the response julioardz! This was definitely more of a qualitative inquiry than a scientific one...

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Old 07-01-2013, 02:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julioardz
You could look up the BJCP style guidelines for how they define the different styles. Here's how I see them differently.

A cream ale to me is a light, well attenuated lawnmower beer with balanced but faint malt and hop flavors. I would make it with 2-row and corn or rice adjuncts and maybe even some corn sugar to dry it out. It would be best served near freezing on a hot day, just like a light American lager from one of the big breweries.

A blonde ale would be similar, but I would make it with all malt and the flavor would lean more towards the malt side. When making a blonde ale, I use only bittering hops and keep the IBU low so that the malt flavor shines. I use brewers 2-row and some other malt like pale malt, Vienna, or Munich to bring out the maltiness a bit more, but it would still be light in color and flavor.

Those two, I think are similar enough that some commercial brewers aren't even sure which of the two they are making. A pale ale to me is a completely different beer. The hops would dominate the flavor. You may have a stronger malt backbone to balance it out, but the hops would clearly dominate the flavor profile. My pale ales have hop additions throughout the boil and are dry hopped, so I expect pale ales to have great hop flavor and aroma, but less than an IPA.

This is how I see them differently. Also, neither of these would have much yeast character, so I would use a clean American ale yeast and ferment on the colder side.
That's some interesting input you have there. I'm curious as to the corn sugar part you said. I've had a cream ale in my fermenter for two weeks now and the recipe used three lbs of brewers grade corn syrup or sugar, not sure which one. How exactly does it make it dry? Do you mean the mouthfeel? I'm just curious because its my first cream ale. So I'm very I interested in how it may come out. Thanks in advance
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Old 07-01-2013, 02:52 PM   #6
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Yes, in my opinion, there can be some overlap, especially when looking at just the numbers (OG, FG, IBU, SRM). The corn, rice, corn sugar, and other simple sugars that are added help dry the beer out and add alcohol in a cream ale without adding maltiness. In a blonde ale, I like the malt flavor and aroma to come through, so I don't use these adjuncts, but I may mash at a lower temperature to dry it out while still preserving some maltiness. In a pale ale, I like the hops to shine but I also like more mouth feel, so I may mash higher.

Don't get me wrong though. I'm not a stickler for the styles. I just use them as a guide. I've made a few bitter blondes and something that was like an amber cream ale. I've also made a pale lager, which brought out more maltiness than a regular pale ale.

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Old 07-01-2013, 03:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rynoryan View Post
How exactly does it make it dry? Do you mean the mouthfeel?
In beer/wine/etc. "dry" just means the absence of sweetness. Simple sugars like corn sugar are pretty much 100% fermentable, so they won't leave any residual sugar. For comparison, base malts are generally in the neighborhood of 75% fermentable (depending on your mash, yeast, etc. of course) so they'll leave a bit of sweetness.
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Old 07-03-2013, 03:29 AM   #8
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I make cream ales a lot, more than any other recipe. I use a lot of flaked corn in mine and you can taste it. I like it and I second the above lawnmower beer comment.

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Old 07-03-2013, 12:09 PM   #9
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Anyone care to post a favorite Cream Ale recipe? Here's one I made:

5.5 gallons
mash 150F 60 min

4 lbs 2row
4 lbs Pilsner
1 lb Flaked Corn
8 oz. Piloncillo Sugar
8 oz. Carapils

60 min .6 oz. Willamette (4.7% AA)
20 min .6 oz. Willamette (4.7% AA)

yeast WLP001

OG 1048
FG 1005
ABV 5.6%

I added some Mexican themed ingredients the first time I made it. But this thread is making me think I might try the recipe straight up. It was pretty solid and thoroughly drinkable. Pretty simple too.

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Old 07-03-2013, 01:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krid View Post
Anyone care to post a favorite Cream Ale recipe?
BM's Cream of Three Crops.
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