The California Common, or Steam Beer, is a unique 100% American-style lager. It’s usually brewed with a special strain of lager yeast that works better at warmer temperatures. This method dates back to the late 1800s in California when refrigeration was a great luxury.
The brewers at that time had to improvise to cool the beer down, so shallow fermenters were used. Through this technique, lager yeast was trained to ferment quicker at warmer temperatures. Today’s examples are light amber to tawny in color, medium-bodied with a malty character, and mildly fruity with an assertive hop bitterness.
Anchor Brewing Co. trademarked the term “Steam Beer,” and as such, all other beers must be legally referred to as “California Common.”
Anchor Steam Beer, San Francisco: This beer owes its deep-amber color; thick, creamy head and rich, distinctive flavor to a historic brewing process like no other. It is a process that combines deep respect for craft brewing tradition with many decades of evolution to arrive at a unique approach: a blend of pale and caramel malts, fermentation with lager yeast at warmer ale temperatures in shallow open-air fermenters, and gentle carbonation in the cellars through an all-natural process called kräusening.
Anchor Steam Beer derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” was a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. While the origin of the name remains shrouded in mystery, it likely relates to the original practice of fermenting the beer on San Francisco’s rooftops in a cool climate. In lieu of ice, the foggy night air naturally cooled the fermenting beer, creating steam off the warm open pans. Once a nickname for any Californian or West Coast beer brewed under these conditions, the name “steam” is now a trademark of Anchor Brewing. It applies only to the singular process and taste of their flagship brand, San Francisco’s original Anchor Steam Beer. The classic of American brewing tradition since 1896. ABV: 4.9%
California Common/Steam Beer Food Pairings:
These beers pair well with roasted meats, Cajun foods, barbecue, smoked meats, spicy dishes and sharp English-style cheddars.
Fish Tacos with Sriracha Sour Cream
1 lb white fish (cod, tilapia or flounder are good choices)
1 1/2 cup light beer
2 cups flour
1 Tbs taco seasoning
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs Sriracha
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
pico de gallo
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
In a pan over medium heat, warm the tortillas on each side. Wrap in a cloth napkin or towel; set aside. Slice the fish into 1/2-inch thick strips. You will need 2 or 3 strips per taco. Heat 1 inch of oil in a deep skillet over high heat. Oil temperature should be around 350° F. (Use an instant-read thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oil.)
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour and taco seasoning. Add the beer; whisk until there are no clumps. Immediately begin dipping the fish in the batter, and place it in the hot oil. Fry the fish until golden, and remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Squeeze a couple of lime wedges over the fish. In a small bowl, combine the Sriracha and sour cream. Add a squeeze of lime; stir to combine.
Spread a small amount of sour cream down the middle of each tortilla. Top with 2 or 3 pieces of fish, some of the shredded cabbage, a spoonful of pico de gallo, and a scattering of cotija cheese and cilantro. Serve with extra lime wedges.
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