Recipe: Impromptu Cream Ale

Stove Substitute: Not So Useful

Stove Substitute: Not So Useful

I’ve been back to Ann Arbor several times since moving to Chicago. When I make it back, Tim and I try to do some sort of fermentable exercise. The only problem: Tim has been without a stove for the past 5 months or so. That certainly hasn’t stopped us. We have just had to be a bit more creative. This spawned our mead and cider, both of which can be made without any sort of heating element.

Well, this time was different. The landlord had installed a new stove, and we were ready to rock and roll, except for one problem: we couldn’t think of a beer to make. Looking back at what we’ve made, we’ve done mostly heavier, bigger beers. We decided it was time for something different. After bouncing around a bunch ideas, we landed on a Cream Ale.

Cream ales are light in color, with subtle malt and hop characters. Most of the interesting notes come from esters the yeast makes during fermentation. This is also our first time using a lager yeast (WLP810 San Francisco Lager Yeast). We’re hoping this beer will serve as a versatile canvas for different flavor additions from fruits, to chiles, to spices. Like we did with the mead, we’ll probably split this up after primary and try a few different things.

Grain Bill

  • 6 lbs 6-row barley
  • 1 lb flaked maize
  • .5 lb carapils

We mashed at about 155º for an hour in trusty water cooler mash tun with 2.5 gallons of water. We sparged with about 4.5 gallons and but as much as we could into our 5 gallon brew pot for the boil.


  • .25 oz  Willamette (4.6%) at 60 minutes
  • .5 oz Ahtanum* (4.5%) at 30 minutes
  • .75 oz Willamette at 15 minutes
  • .5 oz Ahtanum at flame out

We cooled it and pitched one vial of WLP810 lager yeast. The beer ended up pretty low gravity (about 1.024-6), so hopefully we’ll get pretty good attenuation. It should be sessionable, but it doesn’t need to be NA.

*75% certain this is the hop we used. It fits the profile of what were looking for, so even if we didn’t use it in this batch, we’d probably want to use it if we do it again.