A big regional homebrew competition, “The War of the Worts” is coming around again in February. I have time to make two extra batches for the competition, so I decided to pick two categories that may not be overcrowded. I’m staying away from American Pales/IPA’s and Belgians. I decided to go with California Common, or Steam Style beer, for one of them. You may know its best commercial example: Anchor Steam. By law, no one else can call it “steam beer” but Anchor.
So what is it? It’s kind of like a pale ale, kind of like a lager. In fact, while there are only two real beer types in the world (ales and lagers), California Common is a hybrid between the two, and recognized as the only truly American beer style (born in the USA). It’s fairly malt-focused, with some nice hops to balance it out, fermented with special “California Lager” yeast. In a pinch, you can use American Ale yeast, but since my fermentation temperature is in the low 60’s, I decided to take this opportunity to use lager yeast for the first time. Even if I had a clear/glass fermentor, it wouldn’t look too different (remember: ale yeast ferments on top, lager on bottom), and I was told to care for the beer much like an ale. So I may not be making a Pilsner, or Munich lager, but I am using bottom-fermenting yeast, and will take care to condition the beer at lower temperatures. Wish me luck!
British 2-row pale, Dark Munich, U.S. Crystal 20, and German Melanoidin malts
Galena hops (boil)
Cascade hops (flavor/aroma)
‘California Lager’ yeast from wyeast