Topic Archives: Steam Beer

Posted in Anchor Brewing, Coming Soon, Headlines

A spin on a classic: Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer debuts in September 

Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer

Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer is on the horizon from one of America’s oldest craft breweries.

The base beer for Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer is Anchor Steam, for which the brewery is most well known for. The San Francisco based business has touted Anchor Steam since 1896, and is the only brewery allowed to call the style “Steam Beer.” Anchor trademarked the name in 1981. You’ll find it called California common elsewhere. Steam/Cali Common is brewed by fermenting lager yeast at warmer temperatures.

In a world full of hop choices, the brewery is giving the beer a bit of a new spin by dry-hopping this release; the final result having a stronger hop aroma then you’ve ever known from the classic Anchor Steam Beer.

San Franciso’s famous Anchor Steam brand beer is unique, for our brewing process has evolved over many decades and is like no other in the world. To give this classic brew a radically different traditional twist, we created Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer. Made with its now special recipe, this brew is dry-hopped with a blend of new and traditional hops. The result weds the rich maltiness of Anchor Steam with the alluring fragrant happiness of our ales.

Anchor Steam brand derives its unusual name from he 19th century when “steam” seems to have been a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. The word “steam” may have referred to the pressure of natural carbonation developing in the beers. Today the brewing methods of those days are a mystery, and for many decades Anchor alone has used the quant name “steam” for its unique beer.

 Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer will debut in September in 12 ounce bottles and draft, through December, 2016.

Style: Steam Beer
Availability: 12oz Bottles, Draft. Sept – Dec.
Debut: September

5.1% ABV

Posted in Anchor Brewing, Headlines, New Releases

Anchor Collaborates with Chris Robinson Brotherhood on New Can

Anchor Brewing Company (San Francisco, CA) has teamed up with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood to create Brotherhood Steam Beer.

Brotherhood Steam Beer is based off of Anchor’s flagship offering Steam, dry-hopped with Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops. The combination is something completely unique.

The result is a copper color brew with aromatic hints of citrus and mint, a smooth, full-bodied malt flavor with a lingering, fresh hop finish.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood is an American blues band formed by Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes. The Crowes are on indefinite hiatus.

Brotherhood Steam Beer will be available at select Chris Robinson Brotherhood shows, and in 12oz cans nationwide this December. This is the second canned offering by Anchor.

Style: Steam Beer
Availability: 12oz Cans, Limited Draft.
Arrival: December, 2014

Anchor & Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Chris Robinson Brotherhood seen at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, California

Posted in Anchor Brewing, Cool Stuff, Videos
Posted in New Releases, Port City Brewing

D.C. Storms Create “Derecho Common Beer”

Thanks to a  to severe storms a few weeks ago, power was lost at Port City Brewing.  A power outage could spell beer loss if fermentation temperatures aren’t controlled.  Six tanks full of beer were put into harm’s way due to the storms.  While a generator helped keep 5 tanks safe, tank #6 fermented at higher temperatures than expected. Port City see lemonade when give this life lemon.  A California common (steam beer) is brewed when a lager yeast is used and fermented at a higher temperature. That’s what is officially in Tank #6 – Derecho Common Beer.  A letter from Alexandria, Virginia based Port City:

An Open Letter to the D.C. Beer Community: 

Last Friday’s freak storm caught the entire D.C. area by surprise. The destruction that the unexpected derecho caused is astounding. As I write this, there are still people without electricity, and our thoughts are with them as the region continues to recover.

Our power was out for five days at the brewery, and our production has been completely shut down during this time. We have been unable to brew, package, or ship any beer to market. We were fortunate to find a generator to supply enough power to run our critical systems to try to keep our 13,000 gallons of beer from spoiling.

All of us at Port City Brewing Company were absolutely amazed by the community’s response to our plight. The support from the D.C. Beer community has been unbelievable. We received messages of support and offers of help from all over. Our fellow brewers, our restaurant and retail customers, and many beer drinkers contacted us to ask how they could help us to save the beer.

The willingness to step up and help a neighbor is what defines a community. We found in a very real way that D.C. Beer community is strong and supportive of each other, and we will always be grateful for this. We are truly honored and humbled by the response, and we’ll always remember the support that everyone has shown us.

We have a long way to go to get our brewery back to normal operations. It will take weeks to get caught up with production, and unfortunately, there will be ongoing out of stocks in the market as we try to recover. We appreciate your patience as we work to catch up.

Many have asked us if we were able to “save the beer.” We continue to monitor the beer very closely, and we test and taste it daily. Five of our six tanks appear to be just fine. The 6th tank is a 60-barrel batch of lager beer that fermented at a higher temperature than we intended.

There is a beer style that developed in San Francisco called steam beer, or California Common beer. It is a beer made with lager yeast and fermented at higher temperatures like an ale. This is exactly what happened to this 60-barrel tank of our beer.

As a result, this storm has given us Derecho Common beer.

We will release the limited Derecho Common beer in early August. It will be draft only, and will be limited to about 120 kegs, which will be sold only to bars and restaurants in the D.C. Metro area.

Thank you for your continued support.


Bill Butcher


Port City Brewing Company

Posted in New Beers
Posted in Beer News, New Releases, Sierra Nevada

A Dark Steam Beer Called Black Vapor

Sierra Nevada Black Vapor

Sierra Nevada Black Vapor

Looks like Sierra Nevada is brewing a bit more of Black Vapor.  Vapor was/is a draft only release that Sierra brewed with the people at Briess Malts.  It debuted at the Craft Brewers conference in San Francisco, California.  The style is California Common, a “steam beer.” I use quotes because Anchor Brewing has trademarked the steam beer name.  Commons are American lagers, originating back to a time where refrigeration was basically non existent.  A lager yeast that fermented at warmer temperatures was used.  Vapor is a bit of a hybrid, using midnight wheat malt & lager year.

Style: California Common
Hops: Magnum, Northern Brewer (Bitter).  Aurora, Experimental (Aroma).
Malts: Midnight Wheat, Briess Pilsner, Caramel 40, Bonlander Munich
Yeast: California Lager
Availability: Draft only, currently limited to California.

5% ABV, 38 IBUs

Posted in Now Tapping, Red Brick Brewing

NOW TAPPING: “Fred Brick”

What is Fred Brick?

The Idea

This spring I was approached by the crew from Atlanta’s own Red Brick brewery about doing a collaboration beer. I am Fred,     Taco Mac’s Beverage Director, which means that I am the “beer guy” for a group of 25 restaurants that take great pride in offering a great selection of beer. Naturally I jumped at the chance to have a little bit of say in a brand new beer made right here in Atlanta.

So I sat down with Red Brick brew master Dave McClure over a few pints to discuss this project. We quickly came to a unanimous agreement on some of the positive and negative aspects of the current climate in the beer world. We decided that we would use this beer as not only an example of the partnership between our two companies, but also as a way to make a statement about some issues that we felt needed addressing. What can I say? We take beer seriously.

What’s Going On?

Did we come up with a new style hybrid? Or a mash-up of previously unheard of flavor combinations? No. Did we unearth some antiquated recipe from Babylonian texts recently found in an archaeological dig? No. How about a 13% alcohol Belgian something-or-other? No. Did we push the absolute boundaries of bitterness using some experimental new hop strain that can double as nail polish remover? No. We made a very drinkable beer with a full, balanced flavor and reasonable alcohol content. Why? Because bigger is not always better, and more of everything isn’t always a good thing.

Somewhere along the line a movement towards “extreme beer” took off like a wildfire. I jumped on board like the rest of the beer crazies out there. But after a while, I began to tire of constantly being hit over the head with more this, more that, more EVERYTHING. What happened to enjoying well-made beers with character? When did brewing become a competition to see who could overdo every aspect of a beer’s recipe? And are there true appreciation of these beers, or just shock value and an element of accomplishment by having drunk one? I can make food so spicy, for example, that few people could even eat it. But is it any good? A chef can make a dish hot, but still have a balance of flavor that makes it good and hot. So my question is this: Are people losing the ability to appreciate well-made beers because their interpretation of what “well-made” or “good” is constantly changing?


Let’s take something like a Steam Beer, for example. During the Gold Rush, Steam Beer producers were up and down the west coast. Lager beers were very popular back east, so the new west coast brewers used the lager yeasts fashionable at the time. But without massive icehouses to ferment at lager temperatures, they used the warmer and more available temperatures more suited for ale brewing. The resulting beer had a bit of a fruity taste from the higher fermentation temperatures, as well as a good dose of those famous west coast hops. The kegs also had a lively carbonation level, so when they got tapped, the hissing sound reminded people of steam being released. And like that, a style was born.

One thing about Steam Beer is that it was prolific, yet quite varied. Each brewery would have had its own version of Steam. And it is certain that darker and lighter versions existed, different hop rates and varieties were used, etc. The same way that Pale Ale is quite varied these days, Steam was back then. In fact, until recently, Steam was the only indigenous American beer style. All other beers were American versions of European styles brought over by immigrants. As the Gold Rush ended and America became increasingly industrialized, the small producers of true Steam beer began to die out one by one. Only San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co. remained, and it too was on the verge of extinction in the late 60’s when it was bought and slowly revitalized. Now when people think of Steam beer they think of a brand, not of a style.


As people moved away from flavorful beer in 20th century America, the entire concept of beer with character nearly died. People’s ideas about what was “good” or “well made” were being skewed by advertisers into thinking that lighter was better. Three large breweries dominated the brewing scene in America and “light” beer became what to this day is considered “beer” to the majority of Americans. Is the same thing happening in the craft beer segment now? Are people being driven into thinking that beer has to be overwhelming to be “good”? So when Dave and I sat down to decide on what style to make, Steam beer seemed like a great choice. In order to look into the future, it always helps to take a look back.

In addition to the style being a little unique and historic, we also liked the “single hop” concept. Although it is getting some attention again now, making beers with only one type of hop is also a very old practice. When people traveled everywhere by horse, they used the things that were grown and produced locally. English brewers did not have a lot of access to Czech hops, for example. Our Steam Beer uses an older American hop called Liberty for all of its flavor and aroma. There is also the addition of 50 lbs. of Georgia-grown oats to make this Steam beer as distinct from any other one ever made, just like those brewed up and down California during the Gold Rush would have all been distinct from each other.

Brew Day

Some co-workers and I went to Red Brick on Friday, August 13th for “brew day”. Please make no mistake: All of the technical work was done by Dave and his crew of professionals. The Taco Mac people just hung around and helped out here and there, mostly trying to stay out of the way. I do not take credit for anything more than drinking beer with Dave one evening and coming up with the concept. So if you like the beer, thank Red Brick. The name was, well, something that just fell into place.

I hope that you enjoy Fred Brick. Our little project is a 5.2% Steam Beer (aka “California Common Beer”) that will be available throughout Taco Mac land while supplies last. If you are interested in seeing a slide show of the brewing day, go to There are a few slide shows on the right side of my blog. It should be the most recent one. If you are interested in touring Red Brick, they are located at 2323 Defoor Hills Rd., Atlanta, GA 30318. Tours are Wednesday, Thursday & Friday from 5-8 pm and Saturday from 2-5 pm. You can check them out at as well.  Cheers.

This “Fred Brick” collaboration is now tapping at Taco Mac restaurants all around Atlanta.  It’s a new passport credit for those of you in the club – and is also big mug friendly…