Anchor Announces New Spring Saison

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Anchor Brewing just released a teaser video announcing a new spring seasonal: Anchor Saison. Here’s what the press release has to say:

Anchor Saison™ Spring Ale (7.2% ABV) is a traditional Belgian-style saison with a California twist. The distinctiveness of roasted Belgian wheat malt is enhanced by the peppery, clove-like flavors of a locally cultured saison-style yeast. And, for this release, Anchor chose three California ingredients — lemongrass, lemon peel, and ginger — whose synergy adds a tangy crispness and herbal spiciness to this sharply refreshing, uniquely Californian saison.

Brewmaster Mark Carpenter suggests pairing the Saison Spring Ale with sushi or Vietnamese cuisine, which perfectly compliments the tangy, citrus notes of the beer.

Released in California this March thru May, Anchor Saison™ Spring Ale will be available in 6-packs and draught at select retailers and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

The fourth Zymaster series beer was Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale, so I suspect it was popular enough to launch as their new spring seasonal, perhaps exactly the same or slightly tweaked; perhaps at some point we’ll learn the exact details. The Zymaster farmhouse beer was also 7.2% a.b.v., although the spices seem slightly different. For now, enjoy this old newsreel, a “Special Report” from Anchor Brewing Worldwide News.”

And below is the new label, created to resemble old fruit crate art.

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Beer Birthday: Bruce Joseph

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Bruce Joseph, who’s been at Anchor Brewery for many, many years turns 58 today. There’s a big picture of him when he was very young in the stairwell at the brewery that I see every time I’m there. He’s been doing the distilling for Anchor’s whiskey and gin for a while now and plays bass with the Hysters (Anchor’s big band) and the Rolling Boil Blues Band (the Celebrator beer band that’s all industry musicians). If there’s a nicer person in the beer industry, I’ve yet to meet him. Join me in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.

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On stage at the Northern California Rhythm & Blues Festival several years ago.

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A self-portrait of Bruce and me at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2006.

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With Melissa Myers at the Falling Rock during GABF 2007.

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With Garrett Oliver at an industry event during GABF years ago.

See The Elephant: Anchor IPA

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Anchor Brewing will soon be releasing their newest beer, and it should surprise no one seeing the trends in hoppy beers that the new release is Anchor IPA.
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While Anchor Liberty is brewed with just Cascade hops, the new Anchor IPA is brewed with six different hops, including Apollo, Bravo and Cascade for bittering, and the five used in dry-hopping are Apollo, Cascade, an experimental hop still know as 431, Nelson Sauvin and Citra. I’ve been invited to an event at the brewery tomorrow night and I suspect we’ll get a chance to try the new 6.5% a.b.v. beer then. For now, they’ve released a video explaining some aspects of the new beer and it’s historical tie-in. Apparently during the gold rush, the phrase “seeing the elephant” was a “hopeful but risky pursuit of happiness,” something every prospector would have been familiar with. So it’s certainly an interesting way to work elephants into the beer’s lore, but I’ll let Anchor take up the story here.

I have now received the press release:

“When we started thinking about Anchor IPA, we wanted to create a beer we would be proud to serve in our Taproom,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “Right now a lot of IPAs are so hop forward that your palate can only enjoy one because of the high bitterness. Our IPA will have a strong hop flavor so you know you’re drinking an IPA. But, the combination of malts we’re using are strong enough to hold up to the bitterness, allowing you to enjoy more than one. The unique selections of both traditional and modern hops we are using provide the backbone and flavor, plus an experimental hop adds to its pleasant fruity & floral aroma, the first thing you notice as you sip the beer.”

The California Gold Rush lured thousands west to “see the elephant,” a 19th-century metaphor for the hopeful but risky pursuit of happiness, adventure, and fortune. As early as 1849, India Pale Ale—prepared by British brewers for export to India by adding dry hops to barrels of hoppy ale—was also heading west, from England around the Horn to San Francisco. Thirsty ’49ers savored imported IPAs, but it wasn’t until 1975 that Anchor, America’s original craft brewery, pioneered the revival of dry-hopped handmade ales with the introduction of Anchor’s Liberty Ale®, the first modern American IPA brewed after Prohibition. Now, that tradition fast-forwards to an adventurous new brew: Anchor IPA™. Made with 2-row barley malt and fresh whole-cone hops, its bright amber color, distinctively complex aroma, spiky bitterness, malty depth, and clean finish unite to create a uniquely flavorful, memorable, and timeless IPA.

The elephant you see on Anchor IPA™ was hand-drawn by Anchor label artist, James Stitt. The expression to “see the elephant” originates from a tale that predates the California Gold Rush.

There once lived a farmer who had heard of elephants but had never seen one. He longed for the day when he might catch a glimpse of this rare, exotic creature. When the circus came to town, he loaded his wagon with fresh produce and headed to the market. On the way, just as he’d hoped, he came across the circus parade, nobly led by an enormous elephant. The farmer was ecstatic, but his horses were terrified. They reared and bucked, overturning his wagon and scattering its precious contents in the road. “I don’t give a hoot,” exclaimed the farmer. “I have seen the elephant!”

The elephant became the universal symbol of the Gold Rush, as evidenced by the journals, letters, and sketchbooks of the forty-niners. Whether or not they struck it rich in the diggings, those plucky pioneers would forever treasure their California adventure as the defining moment of their lives.

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Beer In Film #26: The Streets Of San Francisco

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Today’s beer video is, of all things, an episode of an old television show, The Streets of San Francisco, which was on the air for five seasons, from 1972 to 1977. Tonight’s shows, as always “a Quinn-Martin Production,” was from the last season — Season 5, Episode 20 — and is entitled “Dead Lift.” During its run, many guests stars appeared on the show, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s in tonight’s episode, playing a body builder whose bad temper leads to …. wait for it murder. But he’s not the reason I posted it. What’s cool about this episode is that Schwarzenegger’s character, Josef Schmidt, works at Anchor Brewery, and the brewery can be seen in one of the scenes. At 9:43 we see a close-up of the bottling line, which pulls back to a wider shot where we see Schwarzenegger walking through the brewery with a keg on his shoulder. But after being told he’s working too hard, he goes a little crazy and starts throwing kegs around, and they fire him. Unfortunately, that’s the only scene in the brewery, and there’s no Michael Douglas either, as this was near the end of the show’s run and he’d already left for greener pastures.

Swan Song For Anchor Bock

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Anchor Brewing announced today that his year’s season release of Anchor Bock will be the last. From the press release:

Anchor Brewing Company announces the release and final selling season of Anchor Bock® Beer, a seasonal interpretation of the strong German beers that mark the beginning of spring.

Each year, breweries in Germany celebrate the coming of spring with a strong, flavorful beer. Anchor Bock Beer, a dark satiny brew with rich hints of chocolate, caramel and roasted barley, is Anchor’s interpretation of this long-standing tradition.

Bock beers are believed to have originated in the town of Einbeck, Germany and traditionally feature a goat on the labels. The Germanic term “bock” translates to “billy goat”, but has over time come to mean a beer darker and stronger than a brewery’s “regular” brew. One with, you might say, the kick of a goat.

Anchor Brewing Company will be retiring Anchor Bock Beer in 2014 making room for several new seasonals yet to be announced.

“Anchor Bock has been a beloved seasonal not only by craft beer fans, but by the folks here at Anchor,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing Company. “In an effort to expand and innovate, as we have done for decades, Anchor will be retiring Bock after the 2014 season to allow room for several all-new brews, which we will be sharing with the world very soon.”

Anchor Bock Beer is available nationally from January through March in draught, 12 oz. six-packs, and 22 oz. bottles.

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Check out their short video about Anchor Bock Beer, made last year, featuring Hazel the goat.

Beer Birthday: Fritz Maytag

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Fritz Maytag, who bought the failing Anchor Brewery in 1965 and turned it into a model for the microbrewery revolution, celebrates his 76th birthday today. It’s no stretch to call Fritz the father of craft beer, he introduced so many innovations that are common today and influenced countless brewers working today. In the last few years, Maytag sold Anchor Brewery and Distillery to Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio of the Griffin Group, but continues to make his York Creek wine and consult with Anchor as Chairman Emeritus. Join me in wishing Fritz a very happy birthday.

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Fritz Maytag at the Anchor Christmas party in 2006 with fellow Anchor-ites John Dannerbeck and Mark Carpenter.

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Fritz with the organizers of SF Beer Week at our inaugural opening event at Anchor in 2009.

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Fritz with fellow speakers at the Herbst Museum Symposium a couple of years ago, from left: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie Bamforth.

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Ken Grossman, me and Fritz at a beer dinner at Anchor celebrating Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary.

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Me and Fritz at the Anchor Christmas Party a few years ago.

Beer Birthday: Bob Brewer

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Today is the 65th birthday of Bob Brewer, longtime brewery rep. for Anchor Brewing. For many years, he worked from southern California, circling the country with the entire nation his territory (the only exception being the Bay Area) representing Anchor beers. Recently, he’s moved back to the Bay Area, but you can find him at every nook and cranny of the beer world. Join me in wishing Bob a very happy birthday.

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Bob serving a festival-goer at the Mammoth Lakes Bluesapalooza in 2007.

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Bob giving a tour at Anchor.

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Bob serves up the then-new Anchor Bock to Portland beer sage Fred Eckhardt.

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Me, brewer Mike Lee and Bob at the 2011 Anchor Christmas party.

Anchor Christmas Day 2013

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Time was when today, the Monday before Thanksgiving, was the traditional day on which Anchor’s Our Special Ale — a.k.a. their Christmas Ale — was released each year. Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor Brewery have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is now available from early November to mid-January.

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From this year’s press release:

“Here at Anchor, we strive to capture the spirit of the holiday season with our annual Christmas Ale,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “Much like Christmas morning, everyone anxiously awaits for the day that they can finally crack open a bottle of Christmas Ale and see what this year’s ale is going to taste like. We don’t just change the recipe and the label each year for change sake, each year we are trying to improve and make the best spiced ale we can make. We think beer lovers will be pleased when they taste the complex, spiced flavors of the our 2013 Christmas Ale.”

Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. This year, Anchor Christmas Ale’s tree is the beautiful California White Fir. It was hand drawn by local artist James Stitt, who has been creating Christmas Ale labels for us since 1975.

Not everyone who came to California in 1849 came in search of gold. A few came in search of trees. English botanist William Lobb was one such plant hunter. As a collector of California’s exotic flora for English nurseries, the “lynx-eyed” Lobb (born in East Cornwall in 1809; died in San Francisco in 1864) was responsible for the introduction of fifty-eight species of California plants to English gardens, including Giant Sequoia and California White Fir.

In its youth, the symmetry of California White Fir’s pyramidal form makes it the ideal Christmas tree. Its shade tolerance allows it to thrive at modest size for years amid groves of much taller Sequoias; yet it can attain heights of up to 160 feet when given the opportunity. The winged seeds of the California White Fir are collected not only by botanists, but also by mountain songbirds, chipmunks, and squirrels.

Even though for the last few years, Anchor’s Christmas Ale is released in early November, I continue to observe Anchor Christmas Day on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I know I’m a sentimental old fool, but I liked that they used to wait that long to release it, even though I understand why they had to abandon it. But some things are worth waiting for. If you agree with me, please join me in drinking a glass of this year’s seasonal release tonight. Happy Anchor Christmas Day!

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Anchor Brewing Announces Zymaster #5: Harvest One American Pale Ale

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Anchor Brewing announced today the 5th beer in their Zymaster series. This latest offering — Harvest One American Pale Ale — is a beer made with a new, experimental hop variety. I had a chance to try it during GABF last week, and the nose has amazing peach aromas, with soft, fruit flavors.
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Here’s the full story, from the press release:

It’s hard to imagine that the Cascade hop, today one of craft brewing’s most popular hop varieties, was ever new. Yet this distinctively aromatic hop, developed in Oregon by the USDA’s breeding program, was first released in the early 1970s. In 1975, Anchor Brewing featured Cascade hops with the debut of Liberty Ale®, America’s first craft-brewed, dry-hopped ale. Anchor Brewing has been using it in Liberty Ale® ever since.

Over the years, Anchor Brewing experimented with many different hops—both old and new—from around the world. For Zymaster Series No. 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale, Anchor Brewing decided to feature an experimental new hop variety. This yet unnamed, pre-commercial, aroma hop provides a uniquely Anchor twist to Zymaster 5.

Zymaster Series No. 5 (7.2% ABV) is made with a special blend of pale, caramel, and Munich malts, which contribute a distinctively complex maltiness and deep golden color. Nugget hops give it a tangy bitterness. But the hallmark of Zymaster 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale is the intriguingly novel aroma of an experimental new hop, which was used liberally in both the brewhouse and the cellar. A late addition to the boil plus dry hopping provides Harvest One with an incredibly lively hop aroma reminiscent of tree-ripened peaches, with just a hint of fresh melon. The result is a uniquely exciting new beer unlike anything brewed or tasted before.

“We have a fantastic and long-lasting relationship with the hop growers we work with,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “When we had the opportunity to sample and test a small set of experimental hops that were being grown, we were excited at the opportunity to work with something new and different. Out of about a dozen or so samples, there was one that really stood out to us. Right away, we knew this was a new hop variety we wanted to brew on a large scale. We were after something unique and aromatic, and this hop was one we hadn’t seen or smelled before and decided it would fit well in our Zymaster Series. Similar to how Anchor introduced the world to the Cascade hop in 1975 with Liberty Ale, we are proud and excited to share our take on this new, experimental hop in this beer.”

It’s being released today in California, though not all markets within the state, on draft and in 22 oz. bottles, and will be rolled out nationally in the next few months.

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Anchor Announces New Fall Seasonal

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Today, Anchor Brewery announced that they’re releasing a new fall seasonal beer, BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red. According to the press release, the beer will be available beginning August 5 and will be around through October. In addition to draft, it will also be bottled in 6-packs and 22-oz. bombers.

BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red was inspired by a native California tree, its incredible leaves, its delicious syrup, and the colors of fall. The tree, known as Bigleaf maple, thrives along the banks of California’s mountain streams. Native Californians once made rope and baskets from its bark. Today, artisans handcraft its wood and burl into custom guitars.. Bigleaf maple sugaring in California dates to the 1800s; yet this tree’s unusually flavorful syrup remains the product of a small group of hobbyists. A hint of maple—including bigleaf maple—syrup in every brew perfectly complements the malty complexity, balanced hoppiness, and rich fall hue of BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red, a red ale like no other.

“When presented with the challenge of developing a new seasonal beer, all of our brewers collaborated to think fall and came up with this red ale,” said Mark Carpenter, brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “We are very happy with the finished product, especially since we don’t do test batches here at Anchor. It requires us to be on top of our game when crafting new beers and BigLeaf Maple is a beer we’re all proud to share.”

BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red (6% ABV) is a quaffable, well-balanced red ale with character. Its malty complexity and coppery color come from a combination of two caramel malts, pale malt, and a hint of maple syrup. To complement these flavors, Anchor Brewing uses three additions of Nelson Sauvin hops in the brewkettle and a unique blend of Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping. The result is a distinctive fall seasonal with extraordinary depth and intriguing aroma.

Since the 1970’s, Anchor Brewing has worked with renowned local Artist Jim Stitt to create our beer labels. A distinct, handmade beer deserves a distinct, handmade label and BigLeaf Maple is no exception. In autumn, the bigleaf maple’s huge leaves, up to a foot across, can display a full range of color as they slowly turn from green to gold to red. Capturing this symbolic transition from summer to fall, a watercolor of bigleaf maple’s magnificent leaf is featured on our label and signed by Jim Stitt.

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