Last fall the Ocean County Home Brewer’s Association had the pleasure of hosting a competition with our friend’s from the Monmouth County Home Brewer’s Association.  The competition beer was an American Porter, the winner having the honor of being brewed and served  at Icarus Brewing.  Many great beers were brewed and tasted, but the OCHBA came out on top and Dave and Pat’s brew  is actually on tap Icarus this weekend!

We are pleased to announce that MCHBA will host BREWER’S BOWL II with the winner to be brewed and served at Jughandle Brewing Company.

We are going a little out of the box with this one, as our competition beer will be the historic California Common!  The Big Brew will be held at the end of April, so look out for updates!

And now for a history lesson:

History of California Common Beer

California Common was historically known as Steam Beer, a name that is now trademarked by Anchor Brewing Company. It is one of maybe only three styles that have their origins firmly entrenched on American soil.

Gold had been discovered in California and a mad rush was on to lay claim to a chunk of ground rich with the yellow stuff. Business of all types followed this mad rush of 1849, towns sprang up overnight, and purveyors of the brewing craft found their own fertile soil.

This style was born of necessity. The years leading up to this great migration had seen a revolution in the eastern brewing industries.Lager brewing had become “the thing,” so lager yeast traveled with these adventurous brewers that saw opportunity flowing west. But, on reaching California they found California’s climate less then hospitable toward the workings of lager yeast. This change in climate and the fact that ice was hard to come by made the brewing of true lagers near impossible. So, they improvised.

California Common Beer

They brewed using the lager yeast, but at temps closer to that of ale brewing. At some point the discovery was made that when peak fermentation was reached, allowing the beer to finish in long wooden vessels (coolships), kept it cooler and reduced off flavors.

After fermentation the “finished” beer went into very stout barrels with a set amount of “unfinished” beer at its fermentation peak. The unfinished beer would condition and carbonate the beer during a set time period. This practice created a beer with very high carbonation.

The Steam Beer of those early days is much different than the few modern examples brewed today. It was a rough, fast finishing, brew made for the working populous and probably distastefully frowned upon by those well-off enough to consider themselves connoisseurs.