Bob Brewer visits Brew Ha Ha with Steve Jaxon and Mark Carpenter this week, plus Steve speaks with Herlinda Heras who is in Rimini, Italy, again this year, to judge the Italian “Beer of the Year” competition, called “Birra dell’anno” in Italian. Mark Carpenter worked with Bob Brewer at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco for many years.
First, Steve Jaxon talks to Herlinda Heras who is in Rimini, Italy, for the second straight year, where she is a judge in this year’s national competition. There are 108 judges from 15 different countries. They are judging only Italian beers. Italy is known for wine, but also for flavor, and their craft beer scene is very well developed.
Mark Carpenter tells how there were no breweries in California at the time of the Gold Rush, which attracted people from everywhere, including northern Europe. They wanted to make Lager beer but they had no ice, so they made a hybrid style of beer that took the nickname of Steam. Of all the origin stories, this is the one that seems most likely to Mark: because they were trying to make a lager beer, they were making it carbonated. To do that they would go through a Krausening process (a traditional German method for carbonating beer by adding actively fermenting malt wort). The beer would be pretty well carbonated and was served in places that were cool, but not refrigerated. When they tried to tap the kegs, they would get a lot of foam. They had to pour a little then let it settle. The foam that would come out would escape like steam. At the time, lager beer was taking over the world and the steam beers died out. Anchor was the only steam beer producer to survive prohibition. San Francisco is cool enough in the summer to brew that way.
Bob Brewer remembers when kegs were scarce and he had to reorganize his schedule to maximize his access to empty kegs. He also modified some taps to control the foaming with the steam beer. Mark says that Sapporo which owns Anchor now, is in it for the long haul. Fritz Maytag sold it about 8 or 9 years ago to buyers who then sold it to Sapporo.
The Beverage People is Sonoma County’s fermentation experts since 1980. They have all the equipment, supplies and instructions for making home brewed beer, and also wine, cheese, olives, mead and any kind of fermented food or beverage.