Cream ale is a style of North American beer. During Prohibition in the United States, Canadian brewers took up brewing cream ale and refining it to some degree. Following the end of Prohibition, cream ale from Canada became popular in the United States, and the style was produced anew in both nations.
A cream ale is related to pale lager. They are generally brewed to be light and refreshing with a straw to pale golden color. Hop and malt flavor is usually subdued, but like all beer styles, it is open to individual interpretation, so some breweries give them a more assertive character.
While cream ales are top-fermented ales, they typically undergo an extended period of cold-conditioning or lagering after primary fermentation is complete. This reduces fruity esters and gives the beer a cleaner flavor. Some examples also have a lager yeast added for the cold-conditioning stage or are mixes of ales and lagers. Adjuncts such as corn and rice are used to lighten the body and flavor, although all-malt examples are available from many craft brewers.