Anchor Brewing Company – Anchor Steam Beer
Ahh, Anchor Steam Beer…such a mystery of a beer. A style of beer that was once widespread along the west coast, now only a single brewery has the rights to create this historical brew: Anchor Brewing Company. But for being such a historical beer, people know so little about it since it only comes from one brewery. The beer was once so prominent in California that it’s even referred to as California Common beer. Back in the days of the gold rush, this was the people’s beer. Steam beers were an attempt to re-create the lagers familiar to those coming from the east where German lagers were bountiful. But things were primitive back then on the west coast so brewers had to get creative. And for those of you who don’t know, lagers have to be fermented at cold temperatures.
We don’t get a lot of ice on this coast though, so without any easy means to use ice for the fermentation process, brewers fermented steam beer at ale temperatures. The result was one of the world’s first hybrid beers. But where does the word “steam” come from? No one knows for sure, but on Anchor’s site it says it likely relates to the original practice of fermenting the beer on San Francisco’s rooftops in a cool climate. In lieu of ice, the foggy night air naturally cooled the fermenting beer, creating steam off the warm open pans.
As the beer itself? It’s wonderfully simplistic. It’s one of those beers I always like to have in my fridge to turn to. But I think the best way to describe it in the words of Fritz Maytag, president of Anchor Brewing Company: “It’s not a radical beer, just mellow, pleasant, rich and satisfying.”