Steam Beer

Also known as "California common beer," California Common Beer is light amber to dark amber in color and medium-bodied. There is a noticeable degree of caramel-type malt character in flavor and often in aroma. Hop bitterness is medium to medium-high and balanced with a low to medium-low degree of fruity esters and malt character which gives an impression of balance and drinkability. Hop flavor and aroma is low to medium-low. California Common Beer is a style of beer brewed with lager yeasts but at ale fermentation temperatures. Diacetyl and chill haze should be absent. "Steam" beers probably got their name at the turn of the century due to the use of a new source of brewery power - the steam engine. Anchor Brewing Company owns the name "Steam Beer," and produces the only commercial example still available of this nearly forgotten style. However, a Bavarian style of beers exists called "dampfbier" - literally, "steam beer" - but I have yet to see a commercial example in America.


  • 14 ounces 80 L U.S. crystal malt

  • 4 pounds light malt syrup

  • 2-3/4 pounds light DME

  • 2-1/2 ounces Northern Brewer hops

  • 1 teaspoon Irish moss

  • Wyeast 2112 California lager yeast

  • 1-1/4 cup extra-light DME


  1. Place the crushed specialty grains in a nylon hop bag and steep them in 1 gallon of preheated 150 water for 30 minutes.

  2. Drain and discard the spent grains.

  3. Bring at least 3 gallons of liquor to a boil, remove the brew kettle from the heat source then stir in the extract and 1-1/2 ounces of the hops.

  4. Return the brew kettle to the heat source and boil for 45 minutes, then add 1/2 ounce of the hops and the Irish moss.

  5. Boil for an additional 14 minutes, then add the final 1/2 ounce of the hops.

  6. Boil for a final 1 minute, then remove the brew kettle from the heat source, cover it and drop the temperature of the wort as quickly as possible to 77 F.

  7. Once the wort has cooled to below 77 F, take an original gravity reading, pour the wort into a primary fermenter through a funnel with a strainer and add enough cool water to create 5 gallons.

  8. Once the wort has been transferred to the primary fermenter, pitch the yeast, stir the wort vigorously, seal the fermenter with an airlock and ferment at approximately 60-66 F for 1 week.

  9. Rack the beer to a secondary fermenter and allow the beer to finish fermentation.

  10. Once fermentation is complete, rack the beer to a bottling bucket, prime with the extra-light DME and bottle and condition as usual.

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