California Common Ale

California Common a.k.a. Steam Beer

An American Original, the California Common style (BJCP Category 7B) was developed in California in the somewhat cool San Francisco area in an attempt to match the traditional lager styles when no refrigeration was readily available. The beer was brewed at higher-than-normal lager temperatures (but lower-than-normal ale temps.) using lager yeast. The resulting style is a slightly amber to light copper color, very clean, somewhat fruity and slightly bready or toasty yet easy-drinking ale. The brand that typifies this style to this day is the Anchor Steam beer.

The Beer

The base of the California Common beer is a somewhat standard Pale Ale type treatment (2 Row Pale, Munich, etc.) with a bit of color and toastiness/breadiness contributed with Light Chocolate malt, or brown malt, and some Crystal malts for both body and caramel sweetness. The signature hop flavor of Anchor Steam (and, consequently, the California Common style) comes from the Northern Brewer hops - woody, minty, and somewhat 'rustic.'

The use of specialized California Common style yeasts allow the authentic brewing of the high-temp-lager/low-temp-lager treatment that makes this style somewhat unique.

All Grain Recipe - California Common ::: 1.052/1.016 (6.5 Gal)

Grain Bill (75% Efficiency assumed)

9 lbs. - 2 Row Pale Malt
2 lb. - Munich Malt
1 lb. - Caramel/Crystal Malt (40L)
1/2 lb. - Victory Malt
1/8 lb. - Light Chocolate Malt (200 SRM) <<< note, this is the light stuff

Hop Schedule (42 IBU)

1 oz. - Northern Brewer (60 min.)
1.5 oz. - Northern Brewer (15 min.)
1.5 oz. - Northern Brewer (1 min.)


White Labs - San Francisco Lager Yeast (WLP810) -or-
Wyeast California Lager (#2112) - 1800 ml starter


Mash at 153° for 60 min.
Sparge as usual
Cool and ferment at 58° to 68°


Note the cool fermentation temperature.
Let this one finish ... it might take longer than you are used to.

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