Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Posts tagged “california common steam beer


Ok, so it’s not quite the victory I was hoping for. My Belgian Golden Strong didn’t place at the national round in the National Homebrew Competition, but just like last year, I’m happy to have advanced through regionals on to nationals. Though as consolation, I must say I was very happy to see my California Common win a “best of show” style session beer competition at my homebrew club’s summer BBQ. Check out the details here on the club’s blog.

The pic to the right is my beer being poured and distributed. Whatever I did with the carbonation on this one was correct, as it has a nice sustaining head without being overly carb’d. I’ll have to look back at my notes. (more…)


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%. (more…)

Brews in-progress

I’ve got two batches in progress right now. Four days after pitch, fermentation on my Golden Gate Retriever California Common has started to visibly slow down. Also, it’s been incredibly warm in Minnesota this week (we hit a high of something like 74* today where the record was 64*!!) so after sitting in in the garage at 38* for the last five weeks, I had to pull the Maibark Maibock batch inside last night (where it had reached nearly 60* Tuesday) and drop it down into the cellar where it’ll get no warmer than 55* until I can find time to bottle it.

Golden Gate Retriever California Common (L) and Maibark Maibock (R)


Golden Gate Retriever

I’ve been wanting to brew some lighter beers for the summer, notably because of the low-gravity beers competition my brew club will be having at our summer grill-out event. Coupling that motivation with the ambient temps currently in my basement (55-60*) for fermentation and my options are limited to a select few styles. Since I’d never tried my hand at a California Common or “Steam beer” before, I decided now was the time.

This beer will definitely qualify for the aforementioned competition. With an OG of just 1.045, it’ll be one of the lightest beer I’ve ever made. Even if it ferments way down below 1.010, it’ll still struggle to come in at more than 5%. This batch was the first time I tried a true batch sparge. I don’t think it changed my efficiency much for the worse and I ended up saving at least an hour on my brew day by employing this method instead of fly sparging.

My buddy Dave was over helping on this brew day and the one to name this batch. This is the first time someone besides myself or my wife has named a batch of Barking Dog beer. Great idea Dave! Here’s the recipe: (more…)