Mar 2 2009

California Common (Steam Beer) Batch 2009 – McSteamy – “CC”

This one of the notes I’ve written to friends to describe the beer I just made. I’ll throw a few of these out to the blog to see if they are of any interest to surfers. Nothing complicated here. I’m just prepping people to try to the lastest batch, to help them understand the style and let them know if I did anything strange or unusual in the making of this one. – jb

What the hell is this thing? Good question. I’ve made a few California Commons before (often referred to as “steam” beers) but this one is different. The last few I’ve done have been kinda like IPAs brewed in the steam style. (The style being a beer that is fermented with cold-loving lager yeast at warmer, ale-like temperatures.

Those were pretty cool and infinitely drinkable beers, but not quite to style. The key to this style is the right strain of lager yeast and temperature control, but much of the flavor comes from using the Northern Brewer hop. I’ve always used NB in the past but in moderation, and often I covered up that flavor with citrusy Cascade hops in the finish.

This time, I only used NB hops and a good bit of them. I also used Maris Otter, which is a British Pale Malt, as the base instead of American Pale Malt. It was what I had on hand, and I wanted to see if the slightly more malty, bready, nutty biscuit, etc. character of the Maris came through. Oh, it did.

This batch is very interesting. The malt is much more in your face and hops give off a strong woody character (with a hint of mint as it warms and as a final taste). You might think this is an English Pale Ale that was aged in an oak barrel for a few months. I like this and it is growing on me more and more, but it will be completely different from what you may have been expecting before you read this email.

The BJCP guideline the California Common Beer.

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