Tasting Notes: California Common Beer (Beer #86)

January 20, 2014 by Jack

I tried to pull a small sample glass for these tasting notes. The keg decided my sample would be even smaller than expected when it kicked on me. Steamdrank, we hardly knew ye.

In late October I brewed a California Common Beer. It was my first try at a style that’s typically defined by a single commercial beer – Anchor Steam Beer. My beer wasn’t a clone, or even an attempt at one; it was an attempt at formulating a recipe and brewing a beer that fits the guidelines. To that end, I think I did OK.

Moderately high hop aroma – woodsy, cedar and spruce hops with a touch of herbal mint character. Medium toasted bread / bread crust malt aroma, with a touch of medium caramel. Medium-light fruity esters – hints of sweet cherry and tangerine. Somewhat sweet smelling.

Medium amber color. Huge, moussey bone-colored head with very good retention. Brilliant clarity.

Moderate maltiness and moderate-high bitterness. Bread crust / toasted bread malt flavor with a medium caramel flavor. Medium-high hop flavor, notably woodsy, cedar, lightly spicy, moderate spruce. Attack is off-dry to semi-sweet. Finish is drying. Hop bitterness lingers into finish. Low-moderate sweet cherry esters throughout.

Medium body. Medium-high carbonation. Smooth. Slight warmth in finish.

Overall Impression
Hits all of the marks for the style, particularly in the balance between toasty malt and hop flavors associated with Northern Brewer hops. Fruitiness might be a little too high for the style, and the beer is a little bit too sweet. Otherwise a very pleasant, easy drinking, well balanced beer.

I am extremely pleased with how this beer came around. I entered it in a couple of competitions in late November and it did well – scoring mid-30’s in both, winning a silver medal in one of them. At the time the beer was young, murky, and kind of muddled tasting. Now, two months later, it’s showing wonderfully. Too bad it’s all gone.

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