California Common or Steam Beer

Guide to California Common or Steam Beer

One of the beer styles that America can lay claim to having invented, a California common, sometimes referred to as a “steam beer”, is a highly unique style of lager that is famed for its subdued fruit character and rustic, almost woody taste and appearance.

California Common or Steam Beer Characteristics

The reason for the dual name is due to the original brewer of the style, San Francisco based Anchor Brewing Company, trademarking the use of the term ‘steam beer’ when labelling their now famous brew.

This trademark meant that other brewers wishing to replicate the style had to choose a new name for their products, leading to the creation of the California Common.

Naming aside, these beers are now brewed right along the West Coast of America and beyond and are known for being medium-bodied, typically amber in their appearance, and moderately carbonated.

Flavourwise, these brews possess a moderately strong malt profile that imparts flavours of caramel and toast and a light to moderately intense hop profile that imparts a pronounced degree of hoppy bitterness and lesser amount of woody or spicy hop flavour.

For more on the history of the brew, read this article.

Pairing Food with California Common or Steam Beer

Pairing Food with California Common or Steam Beer

Considering these beers possess a flavour profile that typically includes a hefty dose of minty, spicy, or woody notes, they can be sublimely matched with a number of different food items.

One of the best options is to match them alongside a serving of grilled or barbecued meat, particularly pork, as the spicy and minty flavours present in the brew matches well with almost any serving of charred meat.

Besides barbecued meats, it is often best to pair them with heavy meat-based Mexican dishes, as the flavours present in both the dish and the beer complement each other well.

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