Through your travels discovering new beers, you’re likely to come across a beer style that is completely unfamiliar to you. Whether it’s a new (to you) brewery, new product or even just a style you’ve never tried, they are out there.
As part of my new Craft Beer 101 series, I’ll take a look at a few styles of beers that I like to call “those other beers” — rarer styles that you don’t see often, those that may be up-and-coming or that characterize a new type of beer.
Two of the top beer trends today are barrel-aged brews and sour beers. Lauren has talked about barrel-aging, but the concept of a sour beer is much different than a traditional brew.
What makes these beer sour is the wild yeast added during the brewing process. And in these cases, just because they’ve gone sour doesn’t mean that they’ve gone bad. Instead, these bacteria create a funk that makes the mouth pucker and even salivate for more. Some sour beers also incorporate the flavorful assistance of fruits such as cherry, apple, raspberry and even mango.
While the flavor isn’t for everyone, sour beers are certainly worth a try as you grow your palate. Terry at Pizza Boy Brewing (Al’s of Hampden) brews several types of sour beers — give one of his a try.
Another beer style that you may find around town would be the California Common or Steam Beer. When you hear “steam beer,” you may associate it with Anchor Steam Beer. As it turns out, Anchor Steam Beer is the only beer than can garnish this name Steam Beer as they have trademarked it — all other beers of this style must be called a California Common.
So, why California and what in the world is Anchor Steam Beer?
First, this style of beer is said to be a California original. It is a 100% American style lager that is usually a dark amber color and is brewed with a special strain of lager yeast that works best in warmer temperatures. This dates back to the 1800s when refrigeration was a great luxury in California. To make up for the lack of refrigerators, brewers had to MacGuyver a way to cool down the beer. The solution was a special yeast strain, which created an entirely unique new style of beer. This process was used throughout California and commonly called “steam beers.”
Anchor Brewing creates their Steam Beer in a similar process and proudly boasts this San Francisco classic as an American brewing tradition since 1896. California Commons can be found locally produced by Pa.’s own Victory Brewing on draft only as well as Southern Tier’s 2x Steam, which is found in bottles during the spring and summer.
With fall on its way and Oktoberfests on the horizon, we may see some German Rauchbiers popping up around town. Don’t be scared by a name you don’t know as you may find a new friend instead.
The Rauchbier dates back to the 1500s in Germany and is typically dark in color and very similar to your trusty Oktoberfest or Fest Biers — but with one twist. “Rauch” is the Germany word for smoke, which provides a hint towards its flavor. The use of roasted green malts that are dried over an open flame provides more of a campfire flavor that’s sometimes even bacony due to the robust powerful flavor of these malts. If you enjoy a good roasty stout or a smoked porter, the Rauchbier will be right up your alley.
CATEGORIES: Craft Beer