Steam Beer: An Overview of the Beer Style and Its Origins

  1. Beer Types and Styles
  2. Hybrid Beers
  3. Steam Beer

Steam Beer, also known as California Common Beer, is a unique and flavorful beer style that has been enjoyed for centuries. Originating in the United States, Steam Beer is an American style beer that is brewed with a unique combination of lager yeast and ale yeast, producing a beer with a distinct flavor profile and aroma. With its distinct taste and aroma, this style of beer has become increasingly popular in recent years. In this article, we will explore the origins of Steam Beer, the brewing process, and the flavors that make this beer style so unique.Steam beer, also known as California Common beer, has been around since the mid-1800s when German-born brewers in California used lager yeasts to ferment their beers at higher temperatures than traditional lagers.

This unique brewing process created a distinctive flavor that set it apart from other beer styles at the time. Today, steam beer is recognized as an official style of beer and is enjoyed by beer lovers around the world.The most important ingredient in steam beer is its yeast. This yeast gives the beer its characteristic flavor and aroma, which can range from sweet and malty to smoky and spicy. The yeast also helps to create the creamy head that is characteristic of steam beers.

Other common ingredients in steam beer include malts, hops, and adjuncts such as rice or corn.There are several different types of steam beer available on the market today. These include California common, steam lager, steam pilsner, steam ale, and California steam ale. Each type of steam beer has its own unique flavor profile and can be found in different styles such as light-bodied, medium-bodied, and dark-bodied. Another important factor in choosing the right type of steam beer is the alcohol content.

Some types of steam beers can have alcohol levels as low as 4 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) while others can reach up to 8 percent ABV or higher. The alcohol content of a particular beer will depend on the type of yeast used during fermentation as well as the amount of time it spends in the fermentation process.Finally, when selecting a steam beer it is important to consider its origin. Many craft breweries produce their own version of this style of beer, which can vary greatly from one brewery to another. Additionally, some breweries may use unique ingredients or techniques that give their beers a unique flavor profile.

Ingredients of Steam Beer

Malt: Steam beer is brewed using a variety of malts, including pale, caramel, and Vienna.

These malts give the beer its distinctive flavor and color.


Hops are used to balance out the sweetness of the malt and add bitterness and aroma to the beer. Typically, brewers use American-style hops such as Cascade, Centennial, and Willamette.


Adjuncts are unmalted grains or other ingredients added to the beer to enhance flavor or texture.

Common adjuncts used in steam beer include corn, rice, and wheat.


Yeast is responsible for fermentation and helps determine the flavor, aroma, and alcohol content of the beer. Steam beer is brewed with a combination of lager yeast and top-fermenting yeast, which helps give it its unique flavor profile.

History of Steam Beer

Steam beer, also known as California Common beer, has been brewed for centuries.

Its origins can be traced back to the mid-1800s in California, where German and Czech immigrants experimented with brewing lager-style beers using lager yeast at warmer temperatures. This process, known as steam brewing or “steam beer,” was developed in response to the scarcity of ice in California at the time. The beer was brewed at a warmer temperature than traditional lagers, resulting in a unique flavor and aroma.Since its inception, steam beer has continued to evolve. Over time, brewers began experimenting with different ingredients and processes to produce different varieties of steam beer.

Today, steam beer is produced in a variety of styles, including pale ale, lager, and wheat beer. While some breweries still use the traditional steam brewing process, others have modified their recipes to include different varieties of hops, yeast strains, and other ingredients.Steam beer has become an increasingly popular style of beer over the past few years, with many craft breweries creating their own unique takes on the classic style. From light and refreshing lagers to robust and flavorful ales, steam beer offers something for everyone.

Alcohol Content in Steam Beer

Steam beer is a hybrid style of beer that has been brewed for centuries and is characterized by its unique brewing process. As such, the alcohol content of steam beer can vary significantly depending on the type of beer.Most steam beers are known for having a relatively low alcohol content, often between 4-5%.

However, some steam beers are brewed with higher alcohol content, ranging from 6-7%. This higher alcohol content is usually achieved by adding additional malt or other fermentable sugars during the brewing process.Steam beers can also be produced with a wide range of hop varieties, which can contribute to the overall flavor and aromas of the beer. Some steam beers are brewed with fewer hops, which can result in a less bitter finish. Other steam beers are brewed with more hops, which can lead to a higher bitterness level.The type of yeast used in the brewing process will also affect the alcohol content of the beer.

Top-fermenting yeasts tend to produce a more full-bodied beer with higher levels of alcohol, while lager yeasts tend to produce a lighter and crisper beer with lower levels of alcohol.

Overall, steam beer is known for having a relatively low alcohol content, but it can vary depending on the type of beer and brewing process used.

Where to Find Steam Beer

Steam Beer can be found in many bars, breweries, and stores across the world. While the beer style is not as widely available as many other types of beer, it is still relatively easy to find. When selecting a Steam Beer, consider the type of lager yeast used in the brewing process. Generally, there are two types of lager yeast: lager yeast with a fruity profile and lager yeast with a malty profile.

Different breweries use different yeasts to produce different flavors and aromas in their Steam Beers. The alcohol content of Steam Beer can also vary depending on the brewery and the type of beer. The range of alcohol content can range from 4% to 6%. When selecting a Steam Beer, it is also important to consider what type of food you plan on pairing it with.

Steam Beer pairs particularly well with spicy foods, so it is a great choice for Mexican, Thai, and Indian cuisine. It also goes well with grilled meats and seafood dishes.No matter what type of beer you choose, it's important to know what you're looking for when it comes to taste and aroma. When in doubt, ask your local bartender or beer vendor for advice on what type of Steam Beer is right for you.

Types of Steam Beer

Steam beer comes in a variety of styles and each type has its own unique characteristics.

Commonly available types include the classic Steam Beer, Amber Steam Beer, and Wheat Steam Beer.

Classic Steam Beer

Classic Steam Beer is the original style of steam beer, brewed with lager yeast and a combination of both light and dark malts. It has a moderate hop bitterness and a light to medium-bodied mouthfeel. This type of steam beer has an amber to copper color and a sweet, malty aroma.

Amber Steam BeerAmber Steam Beer is a darker version of the classic style, which is brewed with a combination of top-fermenting yeast, dark malts, and a blend of hops. It has a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel and a more assertive hop bitterness than classic steam beer. This type of steam beer has a deep amber color and a sweet, caramel-like aroma.

Wheat Steam Beer

Wheat Steam Beer is a lighter version of the classic style, brewed with wheat malt, lager yeast, and a combination of light and dark malts.

This type of steam beer has a light to medium-bodied mouthfeel and a moderate hop bitterness. It has a golden color and a fruity, wheaty aroma. Steam beer is a unique and flavorful hybrid beer that has been enjoyed by beer lovers for centuries. It is characterized by its unique brewing process, which combines top-fermenting yeast and lager yeast to create a flavor profile that can range from sweet and malty to smoky and spicy.

Its alcohol content also varies, depending on the type, making it a great choice for any beer enthusiast. With its wide variety of flavors and alcohol levels, steam beer is sure to have something for everyone.