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Canada’s Craft Beer Atlantic Edition: Full Steam Ahead

This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our Atlantic Canada craft beer guy, Todd Beal. This week Todd checks out the Steam Beer style, with stops at North Brewing Company and Good Robot Brewing Company.

Canada's Craft Beer Atlantic Edition | Food Bloggers of Canada

This month I’m tasting a style that’s taking hold in the Maritimes and is a true American original, Steam Beer. This beer traces its roots to California during the gold rush of the 19th century and in particular San Francisco. There a few competing theories on what prompted the name. I like the one that comes from Anchor Brewing: that the wort was pumped to open shallow vessels on the roof to allow the cool San Francisco air to chill it, creating steam. At its height, more than two dozen breweries made this style of beer. In 1981 Anchor Brewing trademarked “Steam Beer” so now all other brewers call their beers “California Common.”

This beer is classified as a hybrid because lager yeast is used but fermented at ale temperatures. This usually gives a clean and crisp beer like a lager with more of a full body feel like an ale.

North Brewing Company – Halifax Common

Canada's Craft Beer Atlantic Edition | Food Bloggers of Canada

5% ABV | 40 IBUs | Available NS

North Brewing opened in the reinvigorated north end of Halifax that now hosts three craft breweries. They make Belgian-inspired beers with respect for tradition by not being restrained on what they make and do. I admire the brewery in that they started small and have a goal of being a zero-emissions brewery.

Halifax Common pours gold in colour and is slightly dull in clarity with a thin white head. The aroma is malty, bready and yeasty with a slight smell of spices. The taste is slightly sweet with some spiciness and a short dry finish. It has a surprising amount of carbonation and nice mouth feel.

Recommended Reading:  Canada’s Craft Beer Eastern Edition: Plain old pale ales

Cheers to North Brewing’s endeavours and their summer seasonal.

Good Robot Brewing Company – Crown on the Ground

Canada's Craft Beer Atlantic Edition | Food Bloggers of Canada

4.7% ABV | IBUs 34 | Available in NS

Good Robot is the culmination of three friends chucking their jobs in western Canada and moving to Halifax to open a brewery. They opened in the north end in May and have brought levity and great beer to the local scene.

This beer pours clear and copper in colour with a thick head.  The aroma is malty, chocolate and coffee. It has creamy mouth feel and loads of carbonation, sweet coffee and chocolate taste, and a short dry finish.

These are two interpretations of the California Common style available in Nova Scotia, both different and both delicious.

Still Thirsty?

Check out all our Canada’s Craft Beer articles.

Todd covers Atlantic Craft Beer
David covers Ontario and Quebec Craft Beer
Bryan covers BC Craft Beer


Todd Beal follows the craft beer scene closely in the Canadian Maritimes and reports on it weekly on his blog, Maritime Beer Report. He is asked to comment frequently on television, newspapers and magazines as a craft beer expert. He can be heard Friday afternoons on News 95.7 commenting on beer. Visit his blog and follow him on Twitter @MaritimeBeerRpt.

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