One of our most unique seasonals is back just in time for the holidays! Come on down to Draught Works and give our Low Self-Esteem California Common Lager a try. This beer has an interesting history, dating back to the California gold rush of the 1860’s.
California Common Beer is brewed with lager yeasts but at ale fermentation temperatures. California Common beer is light amber to medium amber in color. There is a noticeable degree of caramel-type malt character in flavor and often in aroma. Hop bitterness impression is medium to medium high. Hop flavor and aroma is low to medium-low. Fruity esters are low to medium-low. The balance between fruity esters and malt character give an impression of balance and drinkability.
During the California gold rush days, European immigrants knew how to make lagers from their homeland. They knew which ingredients to use including their own lager yeast strains. However, without the proper caves (cellar temperatures) and the warmer climate of California they were forced to allow these lagers to ferment at ale temperatures (room temp). This caused an increase in ester (a fruity byproduct when yeast consumes sugar) formation compared to that of a traditional colder fermented lager. In short, a California Common Lager is a lager by beer style that is fermented at ale temperatures, creating ale-like ester formation.
California Common Beer was sometimes called a “steam” beer, until that term was trademarked by the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco in 1981. Legend has it that the beer was cooled on the rooftops of the breweries by the cool San Francisco air, since refrigeration was primitive and expensive. The steam could often be seen rising from the rooftops, thus the name “steam beer.” The term “steam beer” was also used in literature of the late 19th century to refer to a cheaper, lower quality beer usually consumed by the working class.
This unique, hybrid style of beer pairs well with barbecued and smoked foods, pork, lamb chops, poultry, fish and shellfish. It goes well with peppery cheeses like Pepper Jack, tangy cheeses like Blue, Edam, and Feta and sharp Cheddar cheeses. It would pair perfectly with your holiday dinner, especially if you are serving seafood or poultry!