Saturday, December 12, 2009

California Common

Since the temps are starting to dip into the mid to upper 50s in my basement/fermentation room, it was time to reconsider what styles of beers I could make. A bit too cool for most ales, and too warm for lagers, why not try a hybrid? I've never made a Cal Common before, one of the few styles that comes from one "true" example: Anchor Steam. Anchor has trademarked the term "steam beer" so any other examples need to be called a California Common, or simply Common. The style is known for it's mildly fruity esters from the lager yeast, some light maltiness, and most notably, the use of Northern Brewer hops. It's not too difficult to come up with a good recipe, as you're basically trying to copy Anchor Steam, and the hops are well known as well as the certain type of yeast. Jamil's recipe is a bit bigger and maltier for the style, but other than that, he goes along with trying to copy Anchors'. I made only a couple adjustments (for efficiency) to his recipe (which I'm now using BeerSmith to copy over the recipe, a little nicer I think):

Recipe Specifications


Batch Size: 5.50 gal

Boil Size: 6.46 gal

Estimated OG: 1.056 SG

Estimated Color: 12.3 SRM

Estimated IBU: 43.9 IBU

Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %

Boil Time: 75 Minutes



Amount Item Type % or IBU

9.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 77.39 %

1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 8.60 %

1.00 lb Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 8.60 %

0.50 lb Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 4.30 %

0.13 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 1.12 %

1.00 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (75 min) Hops 26.0 IBU

1.50 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (15 min) Hops 17.8 IBU

1.50 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (0 min) Hops -

1.00 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (Keg Hop) Hops -

2L starter California Lager (Wyeast Labs #2112) Yeast-Lager

12/09/09: Brewed this morning. No exciting issues. Again pulled 2 cup of mixed first runnings to chill and pitch into decanted starter. Chilled normal to about 70 degrees or so and brought down into basement to chill the rest of the way. Fermentation started and boomed real quick within 24hrs with lots of blowoff.
12/16/09: After a week, this brew is only down to 1.026, a bit dissapointing. I'm thinking I either underpitched and/or drove it too cold too fast. I brought it up from about 56 degrees to room temp (fluctuates between 66 and 70) to get it to finish out. Flavor, however, is fantastic. Tons of fresh grassy, fruity hop flavors, solid malt background, and a nice clean lager character. I think it will turn out really well.
1/05/10: Kegged up this evening. FG sitting at 1.016, so 70% AA and 5.2% abv, pretty much on target. Flavor is very much balanced between a nice bready, toasty malt note and a fresh woodsy, herbal hop note. I added another 1oz of Northern Brewer hops to the keg to make it even hoppier. Very excited to see how it turns out. I also saved the cake for the upcoming cream ale.

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