The California Common, or Steam Ale, has a few explanations that could all be easily believed if told by the right person. As it is part lager, part ale, the lager yeast is fermented in warm temperatures thus creating high levels of Co2 and upon tapping a new barrel it would create a kind of hissing sound like steam escaping from a small exit point. Most craft beer lovers would have either tried or know about the Anchor Steam Ale which almost every steam ale is modelled off. What most wouldn’t know is that Anchor Steam Brewery actually trademarked the name ‘steam ale’ which is why the alias ‘California common’ is used. OK, enough now let’s crack on with the review.
Served in a shaker glass. The gorgeous amber pour offers up brilliant clarity as a healthy two finger cap gradually reduces to a decent blanket, omitting wavy lace patterns as it ebbs. The nose does reflect the somewhat hybrid character of the style with slightly corny/DMS aromas, a hint of cabbage and cereal grains but a pleasant malt backing with hints of citrus gives it a bit more dimension. Undertones of earthy hops, a touch of spice and toast also come through. Not bad. Maybe a tad thin in the mouth, slightly watery in texture. The carbonation is moderate and the 44 IBU kind of comes and goes. Funny thing is (as we bought 3 bottles) we topped up with a fresh bottle and the mouth feel immediately became fuller and more effervescent. Slightly metallic upfront. As it progresses forward a hint of green apples combines with a mild bitterness midway. Quite a crisp finish with a faint hint of wheat and grains on the back palate. A little hit and miss here. The appearance and aroma were great, although it’s slightly let down in the flavour department. Essentially it’s a highly approachable beer and would go perfectly on a hot day it’s just lacking that final punch.