California Common

Includes styles: Steam Beer

Recipes:
2,606
BJCP 2021:
19B
Era:
Traditional
Origin:
North America
Fermentation:
Bottom
Color:
Amber
Strength:
Normal
Taste:
Bitter

Profile

California Common, often known by the trademarked name Steam Beer, is a unique American style lager that historically hails from the west coast of the United States, particularly San Francisco during the Gold Rush in the late 19th century. This style emerged out of necessity as brewers with limited resources sought to ferment lager yeast at warmer, ale fermentation temperatures due to a lack of refrigeration. This gave birth to a beer that was hearty and well-suited for the working class at the time. The process has been refined since then, but it maintains many of its historical characteristics.

In appearance, California Common typically presents an amber to light copper color with good clarity and a persistent off-white head. The visual aspect is one of moderate beauty which hints at a balance between malt and hops within the glass. Flavor and aroma are distinctive features for California Common. This beer combines the clean, crisp character you'd expect from a lager with subtle fruity esters that might remind you more of an ale. In terms of taste profile, it's known for its balance and drinkability; neither malts nor hops overshadow each other. The malt provides a moderately rich backdrop usually akin to caramel but can hold light toast or biscuit notes as well without becoming overly sweet. Hops bring a noticeable but not aggressive bitterness along with spicy or woody tones that should coexist nicely with the malt backbone.

While distinct in its own right, California Common could be considered related in method to other hybrid styles like Kölsch or Altbier where fermentation processes don't follow traditional temperature guidelines for ale or lager yeasts. However, when compared flavor-wise these styles do diverge substantially; California Common maintains its own identity clearly rooted in both its historical and brewing uniqueness.

Specifications

Alcohol

Specification
4.5 – 5.5 %

In Database
4.1 < 4.9 < 5.9 %

Bitterness

Specification
30 – 45 IBU

In Database
25 < 37 < 50 IBU

Color

Specification
18 – 28 EBC
9 – 14 SRM

In Database
15 < 21 < 29 EBC
8 < 11 < 15 SRM

Original Extract

Specification
11.9 – 13.3 °P
1.048 – 1.054 OG

In Database
10.9 < 12.8 < 15.4 °P
1.044 < 1.052 < 1.063 OG

Final Gravity

Specification
2.8 – 3.6 °P
1.011 – 1.014 FG

In Database
1.8 < 3.6 < 5.0 °P
1.007 < 1.014 < 1.020 FG

Popularity Over Time

Most Used Yeasts

Trending Yeasts

Most Used Hops

Dosage of Hops

Trending Hops

Hop Pairings

Brewing Recipes