Sunday, November 1, 2009

Steam Beer

I brewed a steam beer or california lager last winter and thought I would give it another shot. Version 1.0 turned out to be really great, wonderful taste and aroma, but I wanted to tweak the grain bill slightly to give this take a darker, copper-toned color and maltier profile. I blogged about the original version here.

This brew was my first after reading Ray Daniels' Designing Great Beers, and I think it will benefit from the techniques I learned from Daniels' well-researched book.

Lager yeast cells prefer colder fermentation temperatures and require more time to finish than ale yeasts. The German word lager roughly translates to "to store," and German brewers developed unique lager yeast strains by storing their brews at near-freezing winter temperatures. The yeast cells adapted to the chilly environment and resulted in clean, crisp, malty beers. The California lager yeast is unique in that it works optimally at around 60degF, which is around the average winter temperature of it's birthplace, San Francisco.

A popular beverage in the 1850's, California lager would be a historical curiosity if it wasn't for its only modern incarnation: Anchor Steam.

Here's my recipe:

OG: 1.050
35 IBU

Grain Bill:

6 lbs Marris Otter pale
3.9 lbs Canadian 2-row pale
1.47 lbs British crystal 65degL

Mash: single infusion, stabilize at 154degF. Ratio: 1.33 quarts/lb of grain
Batch sparge


.75oz Northern Brewer 60 minutes
.5oz Northern Brewer 30 minutes
.5oz Cascade 5 minutes

Yeast: California Lager (Wyeast)

Brewday: 10/24/09

I finally got a chance to use some new brewing equipment that I have been developing for this session. First, my new water filter allows me to filter sediment and chlorine from my hose
water and begin my brew outdoors instead of carrying water out from inside. I modified a home filter unit with a hose fitting to and definitely noticed a clean, chlorine-free smell.

I also switched to a 10-gallon mash tun, which gives me the flexibility to mash larger grain bills and even upgrade to 10-gallon batches from my previous 5-gallon limit.

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