This week: steam beer from Berryessa Brewing, Winters, California

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This week: steam beer from Berryessa Brewing, Winters, California

Steam beer is just plain fun. Since most fun things are born out of the phrase “necessity breeds invention” it makes it even more the fun. You see, what is now a trademark by the Anchor Brewing Company (Steam Beer) was really a beer that was just nicknamed what it looked like in different forms: first, it was called a “steam” beer because in the days of yore before the mother of invention birthed the ability to adequately cool the hot wort (unfermented beer) prior to fermentation the folks of San Francisco (where the style developed) had to cool their Lager wort on the ceilings of the brewery, so the cool Pacific breeze could lower the temperature. Because there were vats of just boiled liquid on the rooftops getting cooler, the liquid let off it’s own steam due to the difference in temperature and the brewery looked as if, to the onlookers, it was “steaming.” Second, also because of this lack of temperature control (we’re talking somewhere during the Gold Rush days), pouring the beer for the customer would result in a lot of pressure building up in the vessels and the barkeep would have to add relief to it before pouring, which would basically sound like a steam engine. In actuality, a Steam Beer is simply a lager, which is fermented at either warmer-than-lagers-are-typically-fermented or what could also be known as “ale” temperatures.

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