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So continuing with our beer tasting blogs, this one will be all about Anchor Beers. Now I picked up these beers from Beers of Europe, which by now you can tell we get many beers from that we cant find anywhere else!
I finally got around to tasting these beers, I wanted to make sure I could have them all in one sitting, just to get a good perspective of course.
So Anchor Brewery is actually over in the U.S, in San Francisco to be specific! They claim to be America’s first craft brewery, and take pride in being a tradition, hand run brewery. They still use their traditional copper house brewery, including a mashtun, lauter tun and brew kettle! This is combined with modern techniques to make a great quality of beer.
They also only use malt, and whole leaf hops. They use no adjuncts such as oats, rice, or corn in their beers, and have decided to not jump on pellet hops like many breweries. They also have another ‘first’ claim to be the first American brewery to dry hop their ales in modern times. This is when hops are added to the maturing beer while its ageing to give more hop aroma something recognisable in American beers.
They also ferment their Steam Beer in open shallow fermenters, much like certain German Breweries. These are then cooled with nothing but the cool San Fran air! (Unless it gets too hot outside ha!)
So onto some history of the place…
The brewery started off with a German owner, around the time of the California Gold rush. Gottlieb Brekle bought an old saloon in 1871, and transformed it into a brewery. In 1896, German brewers Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr. purchased the brewery and decided on the Name Anchor, for reason no-one is completely sure on!
In 1907, Anchor brewery was met by a series of unfortunate events. First, the Brewer Ernst Died suddenly. Then two months later Anchor brewery was burnt down following an earthquake. Then in Early 1907 just as the brewery was re-opening in a new location, Otto was run over and also died. Luckily the brewery was held afloat by Joseph Kraus and co.
In 1920, like many breweries, Anchor closed down due to the prohibition of Alcohol. There’s no evidence of any production during the probation, legal or illegal.
At the end of the prohibition in 1933 Anchor re-opened, however in keeping with its lucky streak, burnt to the ground a few months later. It was moved yet again to another site, only a short walk from where it now stands.
The brewery continued to operate up until 1959, when sales started do decline as the population moved to more mainstream lighter beers. At the end of this year, Anchor closed it doors and shut down.
Luckily it was bought and re-opened in 1960! Lawrence Steese bought Anchor and moved it to a nearby location, again. However they struggled for the next 5 years, and due to not being able to push their beer to the masses, sadly also had to close in 1965.
Now Fritz Maytag, was a young investor and had heard that the brewery which made his favourite beer had closed. He waded in and saved the brewery from bankruptcy. By 1971it started to bottle its Steam beer, and also had a small range of other beers it produced. It was already becoming a revolutionary brewery as a craft brewery.
In 1977, the brewery had expanded. It produced 5 beers full time and had a good handful of staff, and had outgrown its location. It moved yet again into a old coffee roastary, which is the location it stands in today.
To celebrate its 5th year after the move, it produced it first wheat beer, the Anchor Summer Beer, in 1984. This again takes the title of the first wheat beer to be produced in the US after the prohibition!
In 2010, Fritz retired after a long reign of Anchor, which involved bringing it up to the well known brewery today, and also opening an in house distillery. It has now been taken over by Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio, who plan to keep the tradition and also expand on the existing brewery. They have so far become a pioneer of the craft beer movement in the US and are no know throughout the world, yet strive to keep the traditional values, of fine homemade beer.
For a more detailed history, check out their website here!
Ok so on to the beers I tried finally!
Steam Beer at 4.9% – This was a dark amber coloured beer, and poured with a nice head and good carbonation. Its rather malty and sweet, with a lager like taste. Probably due to the lager yeast its fermented with. Its got nice biscuit undertones, with nice bitterness of the hops coming through at the end.
Liberty Ale at 5.9% – Light golden body with a light head. Highly carbonated which helps bring out the hop flavours. This beer is dry hopped so has a great hop aroma, followed up with a fruity and citrusy hop taste, with the bitterness coming through at the end.
Porter at 5.6% – This poured dark and black, with a thick creamy head. Has a definite nutty and chocolate aroma, with toffee and coffee hints coming through the beer. Still has a sweet malty body, but with a roastiness that comes through and compliments the low bitterness nicely.
Humming Ale at 5.9% – Another light golden beer. Again highly carbonated, and sweet body. Very hoppy with strong citrus hop aroma and tastes. Hint of honey come through the lasting hop flavour and crisp bitterness.
Brekle’s Brown at 6.0% – A reddish coppery beer, again with good head. Malty body but with a citrus hop flavour that lightens the beer. Balanced with a nice roasted malt flavour. Complex and interesting beer.
Old Foghorn at 9.7% – This is a barley wine style ale. Poured a light browny red, thinner body than the other beers, but again with a strong hop aroma, and nice fruity taste. Not as strong tasting as many other barley wines, so could be dangerous. Very nice beer!
They do have a wider range of beers than this, with a few I couldn’t get hold of. They have the Small Beer, which is in the style of an English Bitter, the Bock beer a dark beer brewed for Spring, their Summer Beer a refreshing filtered wheat beer, the California Lager a traditional crisp lager, and finally their Christmas Ale which is brewed differently every year!
Its a great little brewery by the looks of things, and I hope to keep an eye and see how it grows in the future. Who knows, one day we may even be able to visit!
As always I would love to hear your comments, and you can reach us at any of our pages.
Hope you enjoyed the blog, and get a chance to try these beers!