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December 28, 2012 Beer Pick of the Week

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Anchor Steam BeerAnchor Steam Beer bottle and glass Picmonkey


Producer: Anchor Brewing

Location: San Francisco, California

Style: A hybrid lager/ale*

Alcohol: 4.9%

IBUs: 32

Serving type: 12 oz. bottles and draft

Availability: Distributed year-round across the U.S.



Appearance: Light amber to medium copper color. Creamy white head.

Aroma: Won't show much if beer is too cold. At ideal temperature there's some nice citrus with a hint of spice.

Taste: Opens malty with some subdued bitterness in the background. There seems a brightness throughout. Finishes crisply.

Food Affinity: More food-friendly than most IPAs, it would complement many dishes. This time of year we'd suggest fresh cracked Dungeness crab and a loaf of sourdough French bread. There—three wonderful San Francisco traditions in one sitting! Though it's from Iowa, we'd also put some Maytag blue cheese on that table in honor of Fritz. During the summer, Anchor can be a fine accompaniment to barbecue (garlicky grilled chicken is a favorite pairing).

General Background: Anchor is a San Francisco tradition, brewed under that name since 1896. The “steam” in the name doesn't relate to vapors from boiling water, but to a brewing process once common in America's West, in which no refrigeration or ice was used. A better explanation of the process and the beer itself is available at www.anchorbrewing.com. In 1965 the Anchor Brewery was on the ropes and about to close when Fritz Maytag (of the cheese and washing machine family), a Stanford grad in his late 20s, bought in and saved it from extinction. Anchor was a micro-brewery and a craft brewery before those terms had been coined. They have trademarked the “Steam Beer” identity and others making similar products may use “California Common” as the brewing style's definition. However, in talking to Omar Kamal, a Tap Room manager at the Anchor facility in San Francisco, I find that the brewery is comfortable describing the style as a “lager/ale hybrid.”*


mug of Dan  Picmonkey

 --Anchor Steam Beer was reviewed by Dan Clarke, now a writer and editor in Sacramento, California, but a man who remembers having to wait outside in the Hudson while his grandfather and a pal visited a bar in San Mateo in the early 1950's. It was a little out of the way, but it served the Steam Beer that Grandpa Ed favored.

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