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.