Steam Bock

Steam Bock
1 draught pint, $3.75, 6.3% ABV

Purchased at Cambridge House Brew Pub, Granby

bokThis was the first beer I’ve had at CHB since the changeover to a new head (I think) brewer. The new guy is from Back East just down the road in Bloomfield.

It was alright I guess. (Of course, this was almost certainly “in the tanks” when the new guy arrived… but I’m not so sure. Why? Because I just learned all about steam beer and California Common.)

And now you will too… Simply because I’m not sure I’ll ever have a chance to ever have such a beer again.

CBH says:

Malt, malt and more malt. This traditional German lager gets a California Common twist.

From the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog:

“Steam Beer brings to mind visions of the California gold rush, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and San Francisco. Today we’ll look at the history of California common beer (aka Steam Beer)…

History of Steam Beer

Steam beer was originally made by dozens of breweries in the California from 1850-1920, particularly around San Francisco. After prohibition, Anchor Steam Brewing Company continued to brew steam beer and eventually trademarked the term “Steam Beer” for use with its famous brew. Since “steam beer” was trademarked by Anchor Brewing Company, brewers adopted the name “California Common” to refer to this unique beer style.

The key distinguishing feature of steam beer is that it is a lager beer fermented at high temperatures (between 60-65F) and often well hopped… The origins of the term “steam beer” are shrouded in mystery, but one source cites the escaping gas when a keg of steam beer was tapped.

Anchor Brewing started making steam beer in 1894 and was the sole producer of the beer through the 1960?s after prohibition closed its competitors. The original steam beer was cask fermented and conditioned, and often delivered to the saloon in a “young” state.

californiasteaming_2248_generalThe modern California Common beer remains remarkably true to the steam beer heritage… It is brewed with a medium body, and the distinct flavor of Northern Brewer hops. It is typically amber to light copper in color, between 10 and 14 SRM. The modern beer is more highly attenuated than its predecessor, and has a mix of ale and lager character. This leaves a clean finish with low fruitiness, ester and diacytl.”

The description/recipe goes on for 5 more paragraphs and you can go read it if you want. I’m not quite clear on the whole idea of taking a malty style (Bock) and putting it through the Steam Beer process. It seems sort of nonsensical to me (though I am, admittedly, quite ignorant.)

The result was sort of the mashup you’d expect. Slightly malty, slightly thin, slightly hopping beer. I have never liked Anchor Steam and when I want hoppy ales, I get hoppy ales. When I want malty lagers, I get malty lagers. This “in-between” effort just didn’t make too much sense to me.

And if “Steam Bock” is supposed to invoke “Steam Punk” then, well, that didn’t happen either.

Overall Rating: C
Rating vs. Similar style: n/a

Beer Advocate’s Reviews of the Steam Bock (n/a)
Cambridge House Brew Pub
Back to CTMQ’s Reviews of Cambridge House Brew Pub beers
Back to CTMQ¹s Connecticut Beer Page
Back to CT Breweries page

Leave a Comment

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism