Aroma: Typically showcases rustic, traditional American hops (often with woody, rustic or minty qualities) in moderate to high strength. Light fruitiness acceptable. Low to moderate caramel and/or toasty malt aromatics support the hops.
Appearance: Medium amber to light copper color. Generally clear. Moderate off-white head with good retention.
Flavor: Moderately malty with a pronounced hop bitterness. The malt character is usually toasty (not roasted) and caramelly. Low to moderately high hop flavor, usually showing rustic, traditional American hop qualities (often woody, rustic, minty). Finish fairly dry and crisp, with a lingering hop bitterness and a firm, grainy malt flavor. Light fruity esters are acceptable, but otherwise clean.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium to medium-high carbonation.
Impression: A lightly fruity beer with firm, grainy maltiness, interesting toasty and caramel flavors, and showcasing rustic, traditional American hop characteristics.
Comments: This style is narrowly defined around the prototypical Anchor Steam example, although allowing other typical ingredients of the era. Northern Brewer hops are not a strict requirement for the style; modern American and New World-type hops (especially citrusy ones) are inappropriate, however.
Ingredients: Pale ale malt, non-citrusy hops (often Northern Brewer), small amounts of toasted malt and/or crystal malts. Lager yeast; however, some strains (often with the mention of “California” in the name) work better than others at the warmer fermentation temperatures (55 to 60 °F) typically used. Note that some German yeast strains produce inappropriate sulfury character.
Commercial Examples: Anchor Steam, Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager, Schlafly Pi Common, Steamworks Steam Engine Lager