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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * January 9, 2004 * Dispensing Californian Common? < Previous Next >

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Juliobrewer (
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - 08:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone had information on the way C.C. aka Steam beer was dispensed and served back in the 19 century? I work in a brewpub in England and would like the make a batch as authentic as possible taking into consideration that that the equipment being used is mainly for producing real ale. Would the beer be gravity served or pulled through a beer engine as most real ales are served in England today? Any insight would be appreachiated.


Wykowski (
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - 09:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've heard that the term "steam" comes from the sound made when popping the bottle bottle it...

this a lager like style, I would serve it cold and force carbed on draught, i don't think it would be that good on cask

Wykowski (
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - 09:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

also, my experience with this style is...that it doesn't get "good" untill it has at least 30-45 days cold conditioning (or lagering)

davidw (
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - 09:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here's some background info. The final paragraph in the 'Lost Appeal' section hints at possibly the original dispensing methodology.

Bill Pierce (
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - 09:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Draught beer dispensing systems using CO2 began to be introduced in the 1890s, so if you are trying to recreate the "original" steam beer of the California gold rush days I would say it would be best to serve it with a beer engine. However, there are some differences between this style and traditional British cask ales. For one, it is relatively well carbonated (that's the most likely source of the name). Use about three times the amount of priming sugar you would for other real ales. Secondly, as has been mentioned, it's a lager, so it benefits from longer aging (4-6 weeks) and colder serving temperatures (upper 40s F).

Otherwise, the California Common style is akin to a somewhat less fruity and more bitter version of English pale ale. I don't know if you can find a good bottle of Anchor Steam Beer in the UK or not; I have been told it doesn't travel so well, at least across the ocean. It's fairly easy to find it in good condition in the US and Canada.

fob (
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2003 - 10:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here's a good article on historic brewing practices for steam beer: Brewing Techniques Article The article quotes the Wahl-Henius American Handy Book of the Brewing, Malting, and Auxiliary Trades
of 1908 as follows:
Finings are also added to each keg in about the same proportion as for lager beer. Trade packages are then gone over with a special filling can, filled completely and closed with iron screw bungs. After two days they are ready for shipment. The beer should be about 5 or 10 days old before leaving the brewery when it has obtained the necessary pressure. In the saloon it is laid up for two days to allow settling, the bung being opened, as a rule, over night, to allow just a small amount of gas to escape, so as to be able to draw from the faucets without getting too much foam. This is done if drawing directly from the keg, while, if using beer apparatus, "steaming," as the escape of gas is called, is unnecessary.

If this beer is properly brewed and handled it makes a very clear, refreshing drink, much consumed by the laboring classes. It will keep for some time in trade packages, i.e. from 2 to 6 months, but is usually brewed and consumed within a month or three weeks.

Juliobrewer (
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 05:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks to everyone for all the info! As for bottling we don't have the equipment yet though in the new year we may invest in a bottled conditioning setup for small batches. And for ageing all i've only open fermenters and no C.T.s so any lengthly aging will have to take place in the cask.

I should say i've brewed the C.C. before with wyeast 2112 and found the yeast well suited to cask beers. With the standard ales we produce we rack with just enough gravity points for standerd cask carbonation. I'd be hesitant to rack a still rapidly fermenting beer with enough force to blow the shives right through the ceiling!! Though if anyones had experience in that department i'd be interested to hear.

aquavitae (
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 05:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi JB. I for one would be interested in hearing a bit more about your operation and how you became interested in brewing non English styles, should you be so inclined. Given some of the technical limitations it sounds like you'll face with the CC, have you considered other styles that might be more amendable to your operation, like a cream ale, American pale, or dare I say it, an American style IPA?

Juliobrewer (
Posted on Thursday, December 25, 2003 - 01:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi AV,

I'm actually a Canuck so adapting North American styles of beer for the British market is one of my interests.

As for our kit it's fairly standerd for real ale operations. Our standard brew length of 2.5 bbls though we can squeeze abit more through with the weaker beers.

I tend to get a little bored sometimes churning out 3.8% abv bitter all the time. My customers like trying something new though the English tend to be shocked if you put anything over 5% on the pumps so that does limit what you can do sometimes.. But i'm planning to do some one offs in the new year so trying N.A. styles like you mentioned is on the cards.

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