Anchor California Lager

Anchor brews up a recreation of California’s 1st lager, originally made by Boca Brewery in 1876.

Anchor Brewing Co., San Francisco, CA – 4.9% ABV

First off, I’m a fan of Anchor Brewing Company, and always eager to try new offerings when I find them. Back in my distant beery past, Anchor Steam Beer played a pivotal role in my development as a beer drinker; I fell in love with its character and substantial bitterness, different from all the mainstream lagers at the time. The Anchor back story was compelling as well; the brewery’s rescue from oblivion by Fritz Maytag back in the 60’s, an act which kept alive a uniquely American beer, remnant of a time when local breweries were the rule rather than the exception, and arguably played a significant role in the craft beer movement. Over time, I explored various beer styles, craft brews, and less well-known imports, including some Czech and German pilsners that bore little resemblance to the mainstream beers claiming the same name, and possessed a bitterness more akin to Anchor Steam. These beers had much more flavor and bitterness and intense hoppy finishes.

Which brings me to this special lager from Anchor. A recreation of California’s first lager from the 19th Century, it holds a lot in common with those fine pilsners, however, it features Cluster hops, not Saaz or Tettnanger or Hallertau. According to the Anchor website, Cluster was the premier American hop at the time in California, making this a uniquely American interpretation of a classic style. So let’s get down to it.

Brilliant antique gold hue, bright and clear, topped by a 1/4″ of near-white foam which subsides to a thin layer after a brief stay.

Aroma of crackery and lightly caramelly malt and floral-spicy hops.

Fine carbonation texture at a moderately-high level.

Bitter and malty up front with crackery pilsner malt and lightly toasted caramel malt, it swells into a palate-wide bitterness accompanied by some earthy-spicy tasting hops. Lingering notes of malt and hops with a drying and sustained pleasant bitterness. Balanced, clean and smooth, crisp, flavorful, refreshing and thirst-quenching. A wonderfully crafted lager.

Another excellent brew from that little gem and national treasure in San Francisco!


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