The California Common is shaping up
I bottled my California Common steam beer back on 3/31 (Golden Gate Retriever) and cracked the first bottle three weeks later. I think it was a bit early, as I thought I sensed a trace amount of acetaldehyde green apple flavor. I haven’t had a problem with this off-flavor much in the past. Acetaldehyde is usually found in beer that was racked from primary fermentation too early, not giving the yeast time to clean up this off-flavor they create during the process. I looked back at my fermentation schedule and it was in primary for 20 days (plenty of time!) at temps of 55-58*, which I’d think would be the culprit if this weren’t fermented with WLP-810 San Francisco lager yeast. In reading the description on White Labs’ site, I guess they say the optimum fermentation temp for this strain is 58-65*, so I might have been a bit under the optimum fermentation temp which may have inhibited the yeast from cleaning up after themselves…
Fortunately, the yeast appear to be cleaning up the small amounts of acetaldehyde in the bottle over time. The green apple flavor has dissipated over the past week of bottle conditioning since I opened the first bottle. It’s getting clearer at lower temperatures too. This drinkable 4.5% brew will be one of the two I may compete in my brew club’s summer <6% beer competition. We’ll see if it’s better than the Belgian Pale Ale I’m working on, which should clock in at 5.5%.
You can see the brew after three weeks in the picture to the right. It stood up nicely against Anchor Steam, the single exemplar of the style on the market. Mine is a bit lighter in body, but I think that will help it do well in the summer beer competition it was brewed for. Below is a picture of it taken a few days later (about 3.5 weeks after bottling), where I noticed an increased clarity and decreased green apple acetaldehyde off-flavor. Rock’n’roll.