Category Archives: Steam Ale

Dollar Bill ‘B$A’ Steam Ale


“Californian common, northern brewer hops, dry bitter and balanced.” 

Glassware: American pint.

Appearance: Darker than we’d expected. Pours a deep amber hue with a sturdy two finger crown. Good retention and a smattering of lace is left on the glass as it recedes.

Aroma: Typically, a funky sour would be left-field for most breweries. Not for these guys though, as one of Australia’s leading sour breweries a Steam Ale is left-field for them! We’re intrigued here as it’s producing a pretty hefty toffee malt quality but still sticking to tradition with a crisp Lager-esque dryness. Further hints of mixed berries, pine forest/forest floor, sappy resin and herbals in support.

Flavour: The old California Common is such an underappreciated style. For those unfamiliar with them they’re basically Lagers fermented at Ale temperatures (warm), so there’s this really cool cross point where crisp Lager meets more complex Ale and the combo displays toffee, spice, pine resin, wilted herbs and nutty and toasty malt notes to finish. Good length on it too…goes for days.

Mouthfeel: Interesting. Feels chewy but it’s light and crisp with mild-moderate body and the 4.8% ABV is spot on.

Overall: Very clever from DB. We were not expecting this from them at all. The best thing about it is they absolutely nailed it! Very enjoyable.

RAR Brewing ‘Layer Cake’ BA Imperial Stout

“Imperial dessert Stout aged in red wine barrels.” DDH Double IPA Hopped with Citra, Citra Cryo, Azacca & Vic Secret.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a wispy brown head forming on top. It swiftly reduced to a thin halo with a wet lace left in its wake.

Aroma: Quite a complex number with a lot of it coming from the red wine barrels. Muted notes of chocolate cake, Cherry Ripe, coconut, marzipan, chocolate mousse and spicy bourbon. The latter surely a byproduct of the barrels which impart an enormous amount of vinous red berry tartness and musty oak. A fair bit of the booze showing too…really stings the nostrils.

Flavour: Producing more on point dessert stout qualities – macerated cherries (with some natural tartness coming through), dark and milk chocolate, coconut, vanilla, marzipan, almond biscotti, chocolate mousse, mocha and subtle notes of oak and vinous red wine in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat slick, oily and sticky. Not a great deal of body to it but it still holds up nicely on the palate. Low co2. 10.2% ABV pokes through here and there.

Overall: At first we thought it could have done without the aging in red wine barrels but it became softer as it settled. We’d still love to try the non barrel aged version though. Not a bad drop.

Little Bang Brewing Co ‘Icon’ Hoppy Steam Ale

29342553_830150500502430_2991218750549655552_n“It’s an Australian Lager but it’s not. It’s a Steam Ale but it’s not. It’s a hop bomb but it’s not. It’s a session beer and a geek fest at the same time. It’s simple, really, but it’s complex. Have we bastardised an Australian tradition? Have we sold out the Craft fraternity? Have we conflated a cultural icon with a computer icon? Have we over-thought this? Yes. Yes we have.”

Glassware: Stemmed Flute.

Appearance: Clear golden amber with a solid two fingers head on top. It gradually retracts and weaves a fine lace as it subsides.

Aroma: Fresh herbal and lime citrus notes meet the olfactory’s. Grassy hops, straw, subtle honey and cereal grains, white grapes and umami crackers fill it out. Interesting nose – lots of hop character built on a sturdy grainy malt base.

Flavour: Clearly takes on more of a lager/steam ale approach. Grainy/cracker malts, a hint of honey sweetness and a touch of starchy vegetables on entry. Grassy/herbal hop notes through the middle that roll in to a somewhat dry and peppery finish. Good length.

Mouthfeel: Light on, rather fizzy and vibrant with mild-medium body. Subtle bitterness midway (35 IBU). 5% ABV keeping a low profile.

Overall: Being 80’s baby’s the kind of Atari-esque label certainly caught our eye but the beer itself didn’t really wow us a lot. Not bad, we’ll be reaching for something a little stronger of theirs next time.

Bad Shepherd California Lager

27972091_813270085523805_1475834481938515108_n“Our take on the California gold rush Steam Beer. Brewed with the pale ale malt and Cluster hops used in the 19th century, combined with woody Northern Brewer hops. We then round it out with the ever reliable Cascade and the Australian Ella hops to create a piny, woody and grapefruity aroma backed up by light fruity esters and a light malt body. Finishes slightly bitter but crisp and dry.”

Glassware: Footed flute.

Appearance: Slightly hazy amber that builds a big three finger head. Retention is excellent and the lace work is even better.

Aroma: Lager or pale ale? We’d be doing well to get it right in a blind tasting. Can’t find many lager qualities here but we are getting a lot of citrus-forward hops, passion fruit, mango, pineapple, caramel and buttery malts. Maybe just a hint of corny DMS and cereal grains but really, it’s all ale here.

Flavour: Even more confusing than the aroma. It’s ever so slightly tart upfront. Mostly lemons but it’s flirting with that sour region. It recovers with more mild citrus and unripened fruits only to finish on a slightly metallic note with an off putting chemical flavour on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Spritzy, light and rather refreshing. 32 IBU and 4.7% ABV. Mild-moderate body.

Overall: We don’t know what’s happened here. Either the brewers have it all wrong or it has been infected. Far from your typical California common….and unfortunately not in a good way.


Mountain Goat ‘Back to the Brewer’ Double Steam Ale

imageThis brew is a bigger, brassier version of our regular steam ale. We have upped the ante on hops and pumped up the mouthfeel to give this pale gold brew a fruity, tropical palate and aroma. We think it goes perfectly with birthday cake. It’s a 20th birthday celebration with a collaboration with Two Birds and Hop Products Australia.

Poured into a pint glass, we see a hazy dirty dishwater appearance or that of tropical breakfast juice. Difficult to see the carbonation through the cloudiness. A bubbly off white 10mm head slowly fades into a 5mm one. Nose is pure tropical aroma – pineapple, orange, guava, green mango with pine, and some sweet malt and bread. Reminds us of juice with a touch of alcohol. First sip is surprisingly smooth. We get restrained bitterness mixing with pine, some citrus like orange, a touch of sweet grapefruit, and less tropical flavours than the nose but still pineapple, guava. Moderate body here but with minimal carbonation you take a big gulp and it smoothly slides down the gullet. Not a lot of lingering flavour here, other than a touch of spice. We note the Alc vol of 7.3% and it’s so hidden. You get more of a buzz on the forehead before you really detect it. There is a sweet caramel malt base here mixing nicely with the citrus and tropical hops. We note scattered lacing down the glass. As we near then end, we don’t really want it to end. So fruity, so tasty. Beautifully balanced malt to hop to booze ratio. Wow this absolutely pisses all over the steam ale. It’s not even a comparison. This is basically NEIPA style. Absolutely one of their better beers we have sampled over the last 17 years. Not sure where to fault. 1 star off for being associated with the steam ale. Thank god we bought 6 of them.


Capital Brewing ‘Coast Ale’ California Common


Served in a shaker. Relatively clear golden appearance. The pour yields a short white cap which peels back to a thin film with some sparse lace clinging to the glass.
We’re getting a nice fusion of grainy and semi sweet malts with a with a hint of zesty orange citrus. Something sweet and candied in there….maybe marmalade? Picking up a soft spice, apple, paw paw or rockmelon, corn flakes and hay. A little floral bouquet in there too. A nice assortment of aromas here.
The flavour profile is subtle but certainly not short on character. Somewhat typical lager notes on entry – dry, grainy, a touch of earthy hops with some adjunct fruits and spice. The grainy and straw-like malts carry it through in to a mild finish which offers hints of green apple and citrus on the rear.
The texture is super light, clean and crisp. Mild-moderate body with good lift from the co2. Veeerrrryyy pound-able.
We’ve been pretty impressed by this breweries range so far. And although the wow factor is limited with this style they’ve still managed to make it interesting, tasty and ultra sessional. Another decent offering from the Capital boys.

Anchor Brewing Company Steam beer

1935771_465713303612820_153266769864368186_n“Anchor Steam® Beer derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” was a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. While the origin of the name remains shrouded in mystery, it likely relates to the original practice of fermenting the beer on San Francisco’s rooftops in a cool climate. In lieu of ice, the foggy night air naturally cooled the fermenting beer, creating steam off the warm open pans. Once a nickname for any Californian or West Coast beer brewed under these conditions, today the name “steam” is a trademark of Anchor Brewing and applies only to the singular process and taste of our flagship brand – San Francisco’s original Anchor Steam® Beer. The classic of American brewing tradition since 1896.”

Served in a footed flute glass. Pours a light amber to honey hue with a frothy three finger crown forming over the top. The head retention is excellent, gradually receding and omitting a thick sheet of lace down the walls of the glass. The aroma is that of a standard lager with the addition of a distinct spicy hop note coming forward. A touch of sulphur is unfortunately detected but it’s subtle and almost has a slightly burnt rubbery scent to it. Fresh herbs liven it up a tad and a somewhat sweet, bready malt fills it out. Not bad. At least there’s some character unlike most lagers we’ve tried. In the mouth it’s thin and a little watery in texture.Co2 is moderate and a fleeting bitterness develops late in the sequence. Body is light on and super sessional. To this beers credit the flavour mirrors the aroma….only better. A sweet, delicate malt is laced with a spicy hop character that combines beautifully to create a somewhat earthy mid palate. As it rolls on a kind of grainy biscuit note ushers in a herbaceous hop bitterness to finish off. Length isn’t too bad either. Honestly this was quite enjoyable, you won’t hear us saying that about lagers too often. Well, technically it’s half lager half ale and that’s probably why we’d choose a steam ale or a “California common” over a standard lager any day. They seem to just have that extra zing that lagers are missing. Good offering.

Blackhorse Brewhouse Steam Ale California Common

12274541_453433038174180_3500238033180689596_nThe 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.

Mountain Goat Organic Steam Ale

Mountain Goat Organic Steam Ale“The Steam is a crisp, certified organic ale. We incorporate a slap of wheat malt in the grist make-up and ferment it cool. We use Cascade and Citra hops to give it a fresh, zippy finish. Great as the weather warms up. 4.5% ABV, 22BU’s”.

Re-rate. Served in to a shaker glass, this steam ale provides a pale golden appearance with a delicate white head that fades quickly and leaves  little lacing clinging to the glass. It’s offering aromas of mild tropical fruits, peach, grassy/herbal hops and grains with a bready, yeasty character. According to the bottle there is wheat malt used here although we aren’t picking much up. Flavours are quite crisp and there is mild bitterness upfront and also in the finish. It has a nice smooth texture with moderate carbonation levels in the mouth. Again citrus and tropical fruits in flavour with a firmer malt backbone that is detected through the mid. There is also a grassy component that would most probably be stemming from the use of Cascade and Citra hops. Very light, very summery and highly palatable and given it’s only 4.5% ABV it’s also extremely sessional. We love Mountain Goat but we found this was way too soft for us. On the flip side it would be a perfect summer session beer. Not bad.