Saturday, September 18, 2010

413. Anchor Small Beer

Ah, Anchor Brewing, and their Small Beer. So dreamy. I always liked the idea behind the beer, and the fact that it is a refreshing and thirst quenching beer helps out too. Plus, the small beer in the big bottle is a nice visual joke. Well, if you have a sense of humor. This is our fifth beer from Anchor Brewing, including Anchor Porter, Liberty Ale, Anchor Steam and Christmas Ale 2009.

Anchor Small Beer pours a clear caramel copper with a creamy ivory head that leaves abundant lacing on the glass; the nose is creamy and grainy with a touch of malty sweetness in the background. Not surprisingly, the flavors in body match those in the nose, opening grainy with some malt sweetness before giving way to a gently bitter middle. The finish is dry with a touch of sharpness (not from the carbonation, but possibly from grain or the hops) and some lingering bitterness, although not much. At the same time, the mouthfeel has substance and some chewiness, with less corresponding flavor than one would expect—flavor is light while the chewiness is more pronounced, although the body is still medium. There is also some creaminess that lingers on the palate, accentuated by the soft, gentle carbonation. Anchor Small Beer is a deliciously easy-drinking beer that goes down crisp and smooth, and leaves you wanting more. I’ve loved this beer for a long time; I only wish it was more readily accessible in Ohio.

From the bottle: “The tradition of brewing two distinct beers from one mash has existed for thousands of years, and for centuries the term ‘small beer’ was used in English to describe the lighter and weaker second beer. By association, the term came to mean something of little importance. We make our Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale from the rich first runnings of an all-malt mash, and Anchor Small Beer is our attempt to duplicate the ‘small beers’ of old by sparging that same mash: sprinkling warm water over the Old Foghorn mash after the first wort has run off, thereby creating a second, lighter brew from the resulting thinner wort. Technically, both beers are ‘ales’ because they are made with top fermenting yeast. We believe you will find Anchor Small Beer delicious—similar to what modern brewers call a ‘bitter’—and we hope you will also enjoy the idea of reviving an ancient brewing tradition, which is something of great importance.”

ABV: 3.3%
Malt: 2-row


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