Style Details

Cali­for­nia Common 
Amber and Brown Ame­ri­can Beer
BJCP Style Code
19 B
Medi­um amber to light cop­per color. Gene­ral­ly clear. Mode­ra­te off-white head with good retention.
Typi­cal­ly show­ca­ses rustic, tra­di­tio­nal Ame­ri­can hops (often with woo­dy, rustic or min­ty qua­li­ties) in mode­ra­te to high strength. Light frui­tin­ess accep­ta­ble. Low to mode­ra­te cara­mel and/or toasty malt aro­ma­tics sup­port the hops.
Modera­te­ly mal­ty with a pro­no­un­ced hop bit­ter­ness. The malt cha­rac­ter is usual­ly toasty (not roas­ted) and cara­mel­ly. Low to modera­te­ly high hop fla­vor, usual­ly show­ing rustic, tra­di­tio­nal Ame­ri­can hop qua­li­ties (often woo­dy, rustic, min­ty). Finish fair­ly dry and crisp, with a lin­ge­ring hop bit­ter­ness and a firm, grai­ny malt fla­vor. Light frui­ty esters are accep­ta­ble, but other­wi­se clean.
Medi­um-bodi­ed. Medi­um to medi­um-high carbonation.
Over­all Impression
A light­ly frui­ty beer with firm, grai­ny mal­ti­ness, inte­res­t­ing toasty and cara­mel fla­vors, and show­ca­sing rustic, tra­di­tio­nal Ame­ri­can hop characteristics.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Pale ale malt, non-citru­sy hops (often Nor­t­hern Bre­wer), small amounts of toas­ted malt and/or crys­tal malts. Lager yeast; howe­ver, some strains (often with the men­ti­on of “Cali­for­nia” in the name) work bet­ter than others at the war­mer fer­men­ta­ti­on tem­pe­ra­tures (55 to 60 °F) typi­cal­ly used. Note that some Ger­man yeast strains pro­du­ce inap­pro­pria­te sul­fu­ry character. 
Ame­ri­can West Coast ori­gi­nal, bre­wed ori­gi­nal­ly as Steam Beer in the Gold Rush era. Lar­ge shal­low open fer­ment­ers (cool­ships) were tra­di­tio­nal­ly used to com­pen­sa­te for the absence of ref­ri­ge­ra­ti­on and to take advan­ta­ge of the cool ambi­ent tem­pe­ra­tures in the San Fran­cis­co Bay area. Fer­men­ted with a lager yeast, but one that was sel­ec­ted to fer­ment rela­tively clean beer at war­mer tem­pe­ra­tures. Modern ver­si­ons are based on Anchor Bre­wing re-laun­ching the style in the 1970s.
This style is nar­row­ly defi­ned around the pro­to­ty­pi­cal Anchor Steam exam­p­le, alt­hough allo­wing other typi­cal ingre­di­ents of the era. Nor­t­hern Bre­wer hops are not a strict requi­re­ment for the style; modern Ame­ri­can and New World-type hops (espe­ci­al­ly citru­sy ones) are inap­pro­pria­te, however.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Anchor Steam, Fly­ing Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager, Schlaf­ly Pi Com­mon, Steam­works Steam Engi­ne Lager
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.048 - 1.054 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.011 - 1.014 SG
10 - 14 SRM
4.0 - 5.0 %vol
30 - 45 IBU