The cream ale is the best summer beer you've probably never tried. The indigenous American style was created in the 1800s by ale brewers competing with the newly popular crisp, refreshing lagers, which were lightened with corn. If you've spent time in the northeast, you've likely enjoyed (or at least consumed) an ice cold Genesee Cream Ale or Little Kings. They're the last cream ales of the pre-craft era that battled High Life and Budweiser for customers. But craft brewers, with their penchant for celebrating old, near-extinct styles, have begun elevating the cream ale from a cheap, fizzy brew to a bright, refreshing beer you'd bring alongside a good pilsner to a barbecue.
A craft-brewed cream ale is similar in appearance to a blonde ale, but its lager-inspired origin means the style often uses rice, corn, or oats and may cold condition for extra weeks. This means a cream ale can be lighter and more refined, but the loose style essentially leaves it up to the brewer — if they call it a cream ale, so be it. No matter the ingredients or brewing methods, here are our favorite cream ales to crack open this summer.