I like a good steam beer (a.k.a. California common) every once in awhile, and I last made a batch back in 2015. I hadn’t thought it was that long ago, but my notes don’t lie! This year’s version was largely the same recipe, but made with the base malts and caramel malts I had on hand. As before, this batch parallels recipes from BYO and Zymurgy, with only the most minor modifications.
Clonal Common 2021
- 9.5 lb. Viking 2-row Xtra pale malt
- 1 lb. Viking caramel 100 (crystal 40 equivalent)
- 0.5 lb. special roast malt (Briess)
- 1.15 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.3% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
- 0.85 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.3% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
- 1 pkg. San Francisco Lager yeast (WLP810), prepared in 1L vitality starter
- 1.049 s.g., 1.015 f.g., 4.5% abv, 34 IBU, 9 SRM
- Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet to remove chlorine
- Full volume infusion mash at 152°, 60 minutes
- On the morning of my brew session, I made a 1L vitality starter to kick-start the yeast.
- I heated 7.25 gallons of water up to 158°, to hit a 152° mash temperature target. I held it here for 60 minutes, before raising to and holding at 168° for 10 minutes. I added a bit of 88% lactic acid to the mash, to adjust pH.
- I removed the grain basket, and noted 6.5 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.045, for 72% mash efficiency.
- Next, I brought the runnings to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding the hops and kettle finings per the recipe. At the end of this, I turned off the heat and whirlpooled (with circulation) for 10 minutes with the whirlpool hop addition.
- I chilled the wort, transferred it to the fermenter, and then chilled it down to 60° in the fermentation chamber before pitching the yeast.
- I brewed this beer on 24 April 2021, and fermented at 60° for the first week. I pulled it out to finish up at ambient on 1 May 2021, and it looked like fermentation was pretty much done by this point.
- I kegged the beer on 9 May 2021. It had a final gravity of 1.015, for 4.6% abv. I hit my numbers pretty well for this batch!
- Deep gold/light amber color, and very clear, approaching brilliant. The beer pours with a creamy ivory head that is quite persistent. Overall, though, this batch is just a touch lighter in coor than is appropriate by the BJCP style guide.
- The beer has a light caramel aroma, with a slight “woody” hop character as appropriate for this style.
- This has a moderately high level of bitterness and a nice woody character to the hop flavor. This one tastes moderately malty with a light caramel note and a slight bit of toastiness. Yeast character is very clean. Overall, this one tilts towards bitterness rather than maltiness.
- Medium-light body and moderate level of carbonation, with a clean, off-dry finish.
- Would I brew this again?
- Overall, this is a pretty nice California Common! There’s not much to say otherwise; I think the overall recipe is pretty well locked in. If I wanted to be a stickler for BJCP guidelines, I should adjust the color slightly with a bit of Carafa Special III or something like that. I also wouldn’t mind a tiny hint of fruitiness in the yeast character, and thus might try fermenting at a slightly higher temperature next time. All that aside, I’m pleased with this one!