Thursday, July 8, 2010

Steaming ahead with a new brew

Time to brew again!  It’s been almost 6 weeks since I’ve brewed, the keg is feeling really empty and I want to try do better than last time.  But what to brew?  There’s a brewery in SA called Shongweni Brewery which makes what it calls a “West Coast Ale” which as far as I can tell is modelled after the California Common (or Steam Beer).  I quite enjoyed it so I think it’s time to try brew one myself.  Not knowing the recipe that they use for their “West Coast Ale” I’m going to go ahead with the assumption that it is in fact a steam beer clone.

Steam beer was first produced somewhere in the 1800’s.  The beer was brewed using a lager yeast but was fermented at the cool end of the ale-temperature side.  This was probably out of necessity for them, but for me it means I don’t need a lager fridge yet :)  Steam beer is the name trademarked by Anchor Brewing Co so we need to refer to it as a California Common.

According to the BJCP styles (7B), the California Common’s signature style comes from the use of Northern Brewer hops.  The supposed profile is:

“Med body, moderately malty.  Clean lager flavour, but character of an ale.  Dry, with a hint of toasted/caramel flavour.  Med amber to light copper colour.  Low fruitiness, ester and diacytl. Clean.”

The recipe I’m going to use comes from HomeBrewTalk.  Nice, simple and I have almost all the ingredients.  The only item I’m missing is the lager yeast but I’ve made the decision that I’m going to use US-05 instead of the actual lager yeast.  It is going to change the flavour profile and it won’t follow the BJCP style anymore… and I can deal with that.  I like the profile of US-05 and I have on hand.

I’m very excited to see what the Northern Brewer hops are going to come through with.  It’s going to be my first time brewing with an American hop having previously opted for the European and African styles.

Anyway, since it’s no-chill I’m going to go ahead and change the hop additions like so:

Hops Original No-Chill Altered
28.35gm Northern Brewer 8.00% 60 minutes 40 minutes
14.17gm Northern Brewer 8.00% 30 minutes 10 minutes
14.17gm Northern Brewer 8.00% 0 minutes Dry Hopped for 5 days

So there we have it.  The plan is to get this all going on Sunday, pitch yeast Monday evening and see what happens.

OG is projected for roughly 1.050 so not a big beer by any measure.  I’m still going to try bottle about 8 of these (keg the rest) and leave the bottles for 8-12 months and see what happens to the flavour.

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