Originally Posted by KayaBrew
according to JZ and JP, a "true" Cali Common uses only NB hops. I think I'll mix it up a little next time and try to get my hand on some US Clusters.
A true steam/Cali common is defined only by using lager yeasts at ale temperatures.
JZ (very much so; he's a competition brewer who rarely strays from the absolut middle of the road, let alone pushes the boundaries) and JP (who's occasionally willing to reach out further, but is still fairly conservative) tend to define toward pretty narrow categories. As far as BJCP guidelines go, "Anchor Steam clone" is pretty much the only Cali common accepted and competition beers are supposed to be clones thereof or pretty close
Historically, though, steam beers were a much wider genre, and used all kinds of grain and hop bills. Even BJCP admits that by looking at things like the Flying Dog Old Scratch as Cali commons--plenty of historical examples used all kinds of grain bills and hop bills to make beers in the style. The only truly defining characteristic is using lager yeasts at higher temps--that's what "steam beer" or "Cali common" means when it gets down to it.
On deck: Little Bo Pils, Bretta Off Dead (Brett pale)
Secondary: Oude Bruin, Red Sky at Morning (Sour brown ale)
On tap: Saison Duphunk (sour), Amarillo Slim (IPA), Earl White (ginger/bergamot wit)
Bottled: Number 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), Eternale (Barleywine), Ancho Villa (Ancho/pasilla/chocolate/cinnamon RIS), Oak smoked porter (1/2 maple bourbon oaked, 1/2 apple brandy oaked)