Someone sent us a good topic idea.
Steam beer is weird, kind of half lager, half ale. It uses bottom-fermenting yeast, like a lager, but it is fermented at higher temperatures, like an ale. Consequently, the beer has characteristics of both.
According to legend the style originated in California during the 19th century. Brewers attempted to make lager, but, lacking refrigeration, they had to…settle for this. Personally, I think the whole thing was made up by the Anchor Brewery, holders of the trademark for the term “steam beer” (The non-trademarked style name is “California common beer”) But what do I know?
I never found steam beer particularly distinctive, so my reccommendation would be to go for a good lager or ale instead. But definitely give it a try, if only to get a taste of a peculiar niche in brewing history.