Friday, November 6, 2009

129. Anchor Steam

Anchor Brewing is in San Francisco, CA. They offer an excellent brewery tour, although getting on the list does take a bit of effort—plan early if you know you’ll be going. We had this beer out at the Pine Club—my family was in town for Tomtoberfest, which is my self-created beer festival designed to coincide with my birthday. They trekked all the way out from Seattle because I turned 40. And, yes, I know Octoberfest is in October. Tomtoberfest ain’t. It’s in November. If I make all my own beer and offer to serve it to everyone, I can call my party whatever I want.

Anchor Steam has a malty nose with a little bit of graininess to it; it is a crystal clear amber with a white creamy head that laces the glass well down the sides. Starting malty and rounded with a clean clear flavor, Anchor Steam picks up a bit of hop bitterness in the middle and on into the end, and also has some butter or some type of caramel creaminess in the middle—it’s not quite diacetyl, but it is most certainly British tasting. Besides the bitterness that carries through to the end, Anchor Steam finishes slightly grainy, but not in a bad way—it is more an indicator of the warmer fermentation temperatures with the lager yeast (which is where the butter or caramel could be coming from as well). There are a couple of other lager-esque qualities to it; the clean flavor is one, and hop profile is more in tune with an Oktoberfest that an ale—it is light and spicy, and based more on bitterness than hop flavor or aroma. Anchor Steam is medium bodied with a nice rich mouthfeel that is also clean and smooth. There is also some crispness via the hop bitterness and the carbonation bite; coupled with the clean flavor and briskness on the palate, this beer is enjoyable and goes down well—it’s easy drinking, and very well balanced. A classic example that defines the style, Anchor Steam is a Top 10 Best contender.

From the bottle: “Anchor Steam brand beer derives its unusual name from the 19th century when ‘steam’ seems to have been the nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. The word ‘steam’ may have referred to the pressure of natural carbonation developing in the beers. Today the brewing methods of those days are a mystery, and for many decades Anchor alone has used the quaint name ‘steam’ for its unique beer. Today, Anchor is one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world. San Francisco’s famous Anchor Steam brand beer is unique, for our brewing process has evolved over many decades and is like no other in the world. Anchor Steam brand is virtually handmade with an exceptional respect for the art of brewing. The deep amber color, the thick creamy head, and the rich flavor all testify to our traditional brewing methods.”

What we really need to do is find some place that serves Old Potrero, and have an all Anchor Steam boilermaker; I have a bottle of the 18th Century Style Spirit, which is their 100% rye malt version, at home. Something tells me they wouldn’t let me drag it into the Pine Club, so I’ll have to wait for the next time I'm in San Francisco to try it.

ABV: 4.9%
Malt: 2-row


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