Atlas Brew Works District Common

This beer is another selection that I picked up during my last trip to DC. I didn’t get a chance to visit the brewery last time, so maybe I’ll get to visit soon.

ABV: 5.1%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “A quaffable California Common featuring biscuit malt and Czech Saaz hops. Inspired by the beers that accompanied America’s westward expansion, District Common is fermented using lager yeast at temperatures common to ale fermentation. The result is a pale, well-balanced beer combining crisp lager character with fruity ale notes. The clean grain bill provides a refreshing drinkability and supports late aroma additions of Czech Saaz hops. Pair with locally harvested oysters or roast pork medallions. This is no common beer!”

Random: This beer comes in at 20 IBUs.

The beer poured with half a finger of white head. It went away at a moderate pace with little lacing left behind on the glass. The body was slightly hazy and copper in color. There was moderate carbonation visible. The nose had notes of roasted grain and brown toast. There was biscuity notes as well. The taste started with some metal and tasted off. There was brown bread and a touch of nuttiness, but the metal twang took away from the other flavors. The body was light with moderate carbonation. It had a lengthy finish with metal. A can of this was $2, which came to $.17 per ounce. I think this may have been an old can of the beer, so I’d be willing to give it another shot, but otherwise this was unremarkable.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Anchor Dry Hopped Steam Beer

This beer is a new take on a classic. Let’s see how it was.

ABV: 5.4%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “We are excited to announce the debut of Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer™, a limited release inspired by Anchor Steam® Beer, the original California Common. San Francisco’s famous Anchor Steam® Beer is unique for its brewing process which has evolved over many decades and is like no other in the world. To give this classic beer a radically traditional twist, Brewmaster Scott Ungermann created Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer. Made with its own special recipe, the brew is dry-hopped with a blend of new and traditional hops. The result weds the rich maltiness of Anchor Steam with an alluring fragrant hoppiness of our ales. Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Product Image ‘Anchor Dry-Hopped Steam Beer is both a historical nod to our roots and a cutting edge, modern beer,’ said Brewmaster Scott Ungermann. ‘We took our most popular, classic beer and gave it a contemporary twist by introducing a lighter body and an elevated, dynamic hop profile using new and classic hop varieties. The result is a California Common with a unique hop bitterness balanced by a light malty sweetness.’ California Commons are a unique American style of beer created by fermenting lager yeast at warmer temperatures similar to ales. This creates a hybrid between the two beer styles, though lager yeast is always used. Anchor Steam® Beer (4.9% ABV) is the original California Common made in San Francisco since 1896.”

Random: I have done laundry every day this week. One of my favorite things is the smell of clean laundry.

The beer poured with a huge, three finger, fluffy, cream-colored head. It dissipated slowly and left a lot of lacing on the glass. The body was cloudy and bright orange with moderate carbonation. The nose had a lot of citrus with orange segments and grass. It had some malt as well. The taste had the same orange segments and lemon flesh. There was freshly cut grass and lightly toasted malt as well. It had a moderately thick body with just enough carbonation. The finish was quick with grass and lemon with mild malty sweetness. A bottle of this was $1.83, which came to $.15 per ounce. I thought this was a really interesting take on a classic that went down easily. This beer is highly recommended.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Oskar Blues Mash Appeal

This was another beer that I grabbed from the cold case of the craft beer bar. It didn’t come highly recommended, but I was curious about this one and cracked it open in the hotel. Let’s see how it was.


ABV: 5%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “In celebration of Cleveland Beer Week, we’ve partnered with Oskar Blues Brewery and Lagerheads Brewing Company to create Mash Appeal, a Kentucky Common-style lager. Inspired by a once popular pre-prohibition style established in Louisville, Kentucky, Mash Appeal has a rich malt flavor with a tart finish.”

Random: This beer comes in at 19 IBUs.

The beer poured with a quarter finger of light brown head. It dissipated almost instantly and left no lacing on the plastic cup. The body was a very dark brown with some carbonation visible. The nose had some caramel malt along with diluted pine cleaner. There were also notes of dark molasses. The taste was unlike any beer of the style that I’ve had. It had a certain rye note along with a lot of sweetness from the caramel malt. It had chocolate and some smoke too. The body was on thicker side with a decent amount of carbonation. It had a lengthy finish with syrupy sweetness. I was not a fan of this beer at all. The flavors just didn’t work together for me. This was a one-off collaboration with Great Lakes, so I doubt I’ll see it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t grab this one.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Port City Derecho

I really like when a beer has an interesting story like this. It could have been a complete and utter failure and they could have dumped the beer, but instead, they made a new style. I first read about this beer in 2013 on another beer review blog, where they reviewed it favorably.


ABV: 4.8%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Mid-Summer, 2012, a violent derecho windstorm barreled through DC, leaving one million people without power. Our brewery was out of power for five days, which left us unable to control the fermentation temperature of a tank of lager. We were determined to save our beer, the tank fermented at a higher temperature than intended. As a result, the beer changed from a lager into a California Common beer. DERECHO COMMON is deep golden in color, and has toasty, biscuity malt flavors. It is medium bodied with an assertive hop profile. It is hopped with Centennial hops, which give it a spicy, citrusy hop kick on the finish. The storm’s gift was this DERECHO COMMON.”

Random: I was incredibly excited to see this in the mixed pack that Val brought me home from DC.

This beer poured with a thick, two finger, slightly off white head. It left a lot of lacing on the glass and was slow to dissipate. The body was a clear, straw yellow with high carbonation. The nose had some grassy and earthy hops (which was surprising to me, because it was a very strong scent) with cracker and bread notes. The taste first presented with a lemon note and then quickly went into a bready note. Toffee made an appearance as well. The body was on the light side with high carbonation. It had a lemony and bready finish. This single was $.199 down in DC (which broke down to $.17 per ounce). This was a nice beer that was a pleasant change from all of the IPAs I’ve been having. This would make for a great barbecue beer and I can see why it is their summer seasonal.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Baxter Tarnation California-Style Lager

This beer is a style that is relatively rare. I’ve only had 4 others, the most recent being in January of 2014, so I was excited to give this beer a try.


ABV: 5.3%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Brewed in a style born in 19th-century California, Tarnation is Baxter Brewing’s first lager. American crystal malts provide light toast and caramel notes along with the beer’s rich amber hue, while Munich malt supplies Tarnation’s malty body. The complex malt notes balance the ample bitterness of American Northern Brewer hops (the signature hop for this style) giving the beer great balance. An authentic San Francisco lager yeast ferments the brew, yielding a clean, crisp and satisfying beer. This lager requires several weeks of cold conditioning (‘lagering’). but we think it’s worth the wait.”

Random: I really like this brewery’s can art. It’s bright and visually pleasing.

This brew poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated slowly. It left some lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, orange color with light carbonation visible. It also had a lot of floaties. The nose was mild with clean malt and a touch of caramel. The taste was really clean with biscuit, caramel and then a little bit of bitterness from the hops. The body was thick for the style with high carbonation. It had a long, clean finish with biscuit and dryness from the hops. The can was $2.13 ($.18 per ounce), which is a nice price for a quality beer. This was a nice, easy drinking beer that I would have again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Southern Tier 2X Steam

Despite having reviewed beers for a few years, I haven’t had a lot of steam beers. Other than the fact that they are hard to find other than the original, I’m just generally not excited by them. Southern Tier happened to put out this one, which is a dialed up version of a California Common. Let’s see how this one went.

ABV: 8%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: This is a seasonal beer that uses two different types of hops and two different types of malts.

Random: I managed to go on vacation without any sort of snow boots. Having soaked Adidas Sambas are not fun.

This brew poured with a really thick, two finger thick white head that took forever to dissipate. It left some lacing on the glass. The body was a clear amber color with mild carbonation visible throughout. The nose had some caramel malt and then crisp hops came through right after. It also had a touch of earthiness to it. The taste had some metallic notes and caramel with a hint of earthy hops and toffee sweetness. The booze did come through on this one at the end of the sip. It also had a bit of a medicinal end that I couldn’t really identify, but coupled with the caramel malt sweetness. The body was thick for the style with moderate carbonation. It had a long finish with booze and medicinal caramel. This was an alright beer, but I think by dialing up the ABV so much, it really lost something. I wouldn’t rush back to have this again.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager

I’m so glad to be home. It was my first day back at work after 3 days of training (and working from home), so I was crazy busy at work. Since I worked from home, I also didn’t make it to the gym last week. Yeah…skipping a week is not a good idea. I kicked my own ass. I did 10 miles on the bike and back, triceps and calves. I think I’m going to regret doing 270 lbs on donkey calf raise tomorrow. So now that I’m thoroughly exhausted and freshly showered, time for a review. I haven’t reviewed all that many California Common/Steam beers, so hopefully this one is decent.

ABV: 5.5%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: This won gold at the 2005 GABF for Amber Lager. I guess it’s good enough for me then.

Random: I seriously love Flying Dog’s labels. The names are pretty good too.

This brew poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated almost instantly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, chestnut-brown with mild visible carbonation. The nose was all caramel malty sweetness. I didn’t get much else from it. The taste started with maltiness and a hint of nuts and then went into a bit of bitterness and finished with a hint of metal. Although the metallic taste wasn’t prominent, it was enough to distract from the other flavors. The body was a touch thicker than expected and carbonation was mild. The finish hung around with the metallic taste. Although I’m not having a problem drinking the beer, it really didn’t do much for me. I wouldn’t rush back to have it again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Furthermore Oscura

It’s insanely hot here in New Jersey. I hate the heat. There is no part of the heat that I enjoy. I can’t wait until it’s 100 degrees tomorrow. I still managed to get myself in the gym, although I skipped cardio today since I think I managed to burn a crazy amount of calories by sweating…So, onto the beer. This is another brew that I picked up in Pennsylvania. I’ve never heard of the brewery, but the label looked cool and I’m always a sucker for trying new brews.

ABV: 5.3%

Style: California Common/Steam Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Our coffee beer is more ‘iced coffee’ than ‘double-mocha-mud,’ more ‘summer quencher’ than ‘winter warmer.’ I start with a brown Mexican lager to compliment the coffee of choice, ‘Nicaragua’ (beans from the La Fem Grower’s Co-operative, roasted by Just Coffee of Madison.) I include flaked maize both for added creaminess and to appease the sun gods. Extra-warm fermentation lets the yeast create more interesting flavors (the California-common effect, or ‘Vapor Beer,’ if you speak Beer-Spanglish.) Hop bitterness is increased to offset the sweet flavor of un-brewed coffee. Whole beans are soaked in the beer during cold maturation – the alcohol extracts and retains aromatics that would otherwise be lost to hot water. You want numbers? Well, numbers you shall have: 15 degrees Plato; 37 IBU’s; 5.3% ABV.”

Random: I (mistakenly) assumed that this beer would be a stout. The label makes no mention of the style, but whenever I see coffee on a label, I assume it must be a stout. Insert some comment about not judging a book by its cover, or a beer by its label.

This brew poured a dark chestnut-brown with a one finger white head. The head dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. Instead, the head stayed at about an eight of an inch on top of the body. There was lots of visible carbonation on the brew. This definitely did not look like how I expected it to look. The nose presented with some roasted malts and a hint of coffee. I also got a hint of caramel nuttiness as well. This brew almost reminded more of a brown ale. The taste presented with a lot of coffee, hazelnuts and a hint of caramel. This is not like any other steam beer that I’ve ever had. The body was light and some other interesting notes of bread and sweet malt come at the end, along with a long finish. This was definitely a creamy beer, despite the fact it was a thinner beer with a decent amount of carbonation. I really don’t know what to make of this beer. I definitely would not think that this was a steam beer. But, definitely an interesting beer that had a lot of great coffee flavors. I would have this again, especially because it was so unique.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Anchor Steam Beer

Last night was the end to an absolutely crazy week. I hit the gym after work with one of my buddies after work and ended up spending a few hours there, just chatting in between sets. I ended up going out with my buddy Joe (who tends to accompany me to all beer related events) to a local bar which has some craft beer, although the selection isn’t really fantastic. I picked Anchor Steam because I’ve never had a Steam Beer before.

ABV: 4.9%

Style: California Common/Anchor Beer

Trivia: According to BeerAdvocate, “The California Common, or Steam Beer, is a unique 100% American style lager. It’s usually brewed with a special strain of lager yeast that works better at warmer temperatures. This method dates back to the late 1800’s in California when refrigeration was a great luxury. The brewers back then had to improvise to cool the beer down, so shallow fermenters were used. So in a way the lager yeast was trained to ferment quicker at warmer temperatures. Today’s examples are light amber to tawny in color, medium bodied with a malty character. Mildly fruity with an assertive hop bitterness.”

Random: I can’t believe Villanova lost in the NCAA tourney yesterday. Very disappointing.

The brew poured with a one finger white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body is a clear amber color with mild visible carbonation. The nose is really muted. And I mean muted to the point that I was sticking my face in the glass and couldn’t get much. I was really searching and got a slight hint of hops. The taste was boring at best. There was a crispness to it, which was the good part. Otherwise, I got some malt on it with a hint of hops. Wow this is just bland. It goes down easily but I think my qualm is more with the style. It’s just very boring to me. I could easily put a few back, but I really wouldn’t want to. Finish is quick and unremarkable. This one just wasn’t my cup of tea. This has just been the week of boring beers for me. Hopefully tonight’s selection is a little bit better.

Untappd Rating: 1.0/5.0