The following is a first (probably – I have a bad memory, I think, I can’t remember) in a series of ways in which to give you, dear reader, a little bit of a further glimpse into the world of beer by highlighting a style and getting into it a little bit. I figure that most of you are here to read about beer and not me giving you the play by play from Mike Schmidt’s 500th homerun on April 18th 1987 at 3:47 in the afternoon against Don Robinson at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania with Von Hayes on third and a three and “o” count, which is what I had planned on talking about.
So, therefore, in my most stylistic way possible, we will talk about beer.
I’m choosing which style we’re talking about this week but I’m leaving it all “choose your own adventure” style for the upcoming weeks. Today I will give some examples at the end of things that we can touch on in the future but, if you really want to learn more about something specifically and want to read my words on the subject, please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’d love to expound on a specific subject. It’s actually what I enjoy doing.
Therefore, this week: steam beer.
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.
This style also has the “necessity gives a happy little birth to invention” across the pond as well, where the Germans have their own version known as Dampfbiers. Those were born in the forests of Bavaria (at the time a not-so-rich area) where local brewers had to use what they had in order to make their beer. For them, they had barley, not wheat and they had no way to control the temperature for fermentation. They would scrounge yeast from nearby Weissebier breweries (Wheat beer) and ferment in large open vats. These fermentations, because they’re warm, would actively chug along and their appearance would be remarked that it looks as if they’re steaming (Dampfbier is translated into English by way of the words, “Steam Beer,” go figure).
Of course, there’s much much more to the stories than that. I’m not trying to rewrite Wikipedia again (my lawyer says I have to stop doing that, still); I’m just trying to give you a glimpse into the world that is the history of beer. We will have a really nice version of the California Common (also another name of a Steam Beer, better known as an “AKA”) from Berryessa Brewing out of Winters, California, which is 68.5 miles away from San Francisco by way of I505-South and I 80 West.
What you can expect is a beer that is straw to golden in color with a bready Lager medium bodiedness and hoppy bitterness.
The choose your own adventure part:
Next week, should we talk about:
- Your grades? Seriously, we’re only a couple of days in…
- American Pale Ales?
- Louis Pasteur?
- Imperial Stouts?
- Session IPAs?
It’s all in your hands.
It should also be mentioned that we’re having a great time in the kitchen as of late. Keep on the lookout for our daily additions to the menu that is phenomenal and also really good for you.
Some other beers that you’ll be able to try coming up include but are not limited to:
- Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin: it’s like they took an IPA and added grapefruit to it.
- Hill Farmstead Song of Joy: I should mention this because of its’ crossover character since we’ve already been talking about a Lager that’s been fermented at Ale temperatures. Well, Song of Joy is an India Pale Lager. So, it’s got the hop to it that would normally be found in an IPAle but it’s fermented with a Lager yeast; hence the name IPL where the “L” replaces the “A.”
- Zero Gravity Bamberg Helles: a lightly smoky German style Lager. We’re knocking it out of the park with things that kind of go together today; good job you.
That’s about all I have for you today folks (lying – I can always have more but my lawyer said that was enough for today) so let me know which direction you’d like to go and I’ll be there to show you the ropes.