So I've had a few of my steam beers side-by-side with the real-deal Anchor Steam and it's a mixed bag. My steam is a very good beer, if a little too yeasty, but it doesn't really taste anything like Anchor Steam. Anchor's variety has a very crisp taste, while mine has the aforementioned yeasty and fruity character.
1. It's too damn hot. Technically, the yeast I bought works best at around 65°F, but I'm sure the daytime temp of my condo in DC hovers close to 80 when I'm not home. This could've led to more fruity esthers and phenols during fermentation.
2. No secondary. In all my brewing adventures, I have only used one vessel for the whole fermentation process. It hasn't been a problem before, but I probably should have decanted the fermenting beer off of the primary yeast cake after about a week. This should lead to cleaner, crisper-tasting beer. Will probably do this with my future batches.
3. The yeast isn't very flocculant. "Flocculant" means that it comes out of suspension and settles at the bottom of the bottle. My previous batches with dry yeast always had a solid layer of yeast on the bottom of the bottle. I used a liquid yeast for this batch, and it will swirl up back into suspension (even when chilled) if you so much as look at it, which leads to lots of yeast in your glass, and lots of gas out your... well, you know.
So, I was successful in making a tasty beer, but failed at cloning an Anchor Steam.
In other brew news, I did my first all-grain batch on Thursday. An American Pale Ale, stay tuned for the results...