California Common (For Intermediate Homebrewers) Recipe

Sarah Postma

This is an all-grain homebrewing recipe which is written for the intermediate level, brew-in-a-bag homebrewer. California Common is a hybrid beer so it's helpful if you have a temperature controlled refrigerator you can use to maintain fermentation and conditioning temperatures, but it's not necessary. If you don't have a refrigerator, try to maintain cooler temperatures using ice packs.

For this brew, you'll use the same equipment setup used for extract batches, but you will also need a kettle that is at least 7.5 gallons as well as an extra-large mesh grain bag. A second stockpot large enough to heat (not boil) 3 gallons of water is also recommended. An accurate brewing thermometer is very important when making an all-grain recipe; it's a good idea to check that yours is in good working condition.

Since the fermentation temperatures of this beer are a little lower than the typical ale fermentation, you should make a 1.5 liter yeast starter the day before you brew. If you don't get the chance to make a starter, use two packages of yeast instead.

Recipe Details

California Common (For Intermediate Homebrewers) Recipe

Active 5.5 to 8 hrs
Total 0 mins


  • 5 pounds American 2-row malt, crushed
  • 1.25 pounds Munich malt, crushed
  • 1 pound Crystal 40L malt, crushed
  • 2 ounces Chocolate malt, crushed
  • 1 pound dry malt extract
  • 0.75 ounces Northern Brewer hops - 60 minutes
  • 0.5 ounces Northern Brewer hops - 30 minutes
  • 0.75 ounces Northern Brewer hops - 10 minutes
  • 1.5 Liter Starter of White Labs WLP 810 or Wyeast 2112


  1. Line the 7.5 gallon kettle with the mesh bag, fill with 2.5 gallons of tap water and bring to 162°F. Remove from heat.

  2. Mash-in by slowly adding the 2-row, Munich, Crystal 40L and Chocolate malt into the water and inside the bag. Stir for 2 minutes to prevent balls of grain from clumping together, creating a consistent mash. The temperature should equalize to about 152°F.

  3. Cover the mash, only uncovering to briefly stir every 20 minutes. In a separate pot, heat 3 more gallons of water to 190°F.

  4. After 60 minutes, mash-out by carefully pouring the 190°F water into the mash, stirring to equalize temperature to about 170°F.

  5. Slowly raise the grain bag out of the liquid, allowing the wort to drain from the grain. Hold the grain bag above the kettle for 5 to 10 minutes as the wort drains. Add the 1 pound of dry malt extract and top the wort off with water to 6.5 gallons.

  6. Bring wort to a vigorous boil. When the boil begins, add 0.75 ounces Northern Brewer hops in a mesh bag.

  7. After boiling for 30 minutes, add 0.5 ounces Northern Brewer hops in a mesh bag.

  8. After boiling for 50 minutes, add 0.75 ounces Northern Brewer hops in a mesh bag.

  9. After total of 60 minutes of boil, remove from heat. Warning: After wort cools below 180°F everything that touches it should be sanitary, and exposure to open air should be limited as much as possible.

  10. Cool wort by placing pot in ice bath or by using a wort chiller until it is at 60°F. Transfer to sanitized fermentor (either a carboy or a fermentation bucket).

  11. Use a sanitized auto-siphon racking cane to remove enough wort to take a gravity reading with your hydrometer. Make a note of this number, since you will be using it to calculate the actual alcohol content when it's done fermenting. The reading should be around 1.047. Cover fermentor with a sanitized stopper and airlock.

  12. Agitate vigorously for at least 5 minutes or aerate using pure oxygen for 1 minute. Add 1.5L starter of California Lager yeast.

  13. Ferment for at least 10 days at 60°F

  14. Condition by allowing the beer to rest for 3 weeks at 50°F.

  15. Bottle after conditioning is complete, using enough priming sugar for a medium to high level of carbonation.

Special equipment

7.5 gallon kettle (or bigger), large mesh grain bag, the basic homebrewing equipment setup and a temperature controlled refrigerator

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