I can hardly believe that I haven’t yet reviewed one of the icons of craft beer. Anchor Steam is the principle beer for the Anchor Brewing company; the first craft brewery in the United States, and one that has had an impact on the rebirth and revitalization of micro-brewing in this country that can’t be underestimated. Steam Beer (or California Common Beer) was named after the brewing method used at the time in San Francisco but is now a trademark owned by Anchor Brewing, who continue to use the traditional methods. It pours a beautiful coppery amber, and the hops are evident immediate. It has a clean pine scent, and citrus flavors, predominantly lemon and grapefruit. There’s a slightly bitter lemony, buttery finish at the end that fades away without much drama. This is a refreshing and fairly simple beer, as a classic like this should be. I’d say it’s more likely to appeal to hop lovers who like a bit of bitterness. I really love this beer as example of what a old-fashioned, time-tested and proven brew should be, and it’s one I keep coming back to over and over again.
Yummy. Coffee and beer, all mixed up into one. This is a pretty heavy beer for a warm summer’s day, but the abundance of rich flavors to excite your taste buds makes it hard to resist on any occasion. It pours with a nice thick brown head, and the initial scents are of coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt. This is a pretty heavily hopped stout, and in the middle, you taste that, as there’s a good bit of grapefruit behind the leading flavor of coffee. The finish is thick and sweet with milk and chocolate, and right at the very tail end is a bit of pine from the hops. There’s a lot going on in this beer and I’m really enjoying it.
Alpine Springs is an unfiltered lager that reminds me a bit of a saison with less yeast. The malt backbone is mellower than in a typical lager, making this more like a nice wheat ale. It’s also quite a bit heavier in body than a typical lager. It has a light citrus scent, and is bready in the middle with some faint orange as well. There’s no hop bite at all, so folks who don’t like bitter beers might want to try it out. This is a very pleasant summer beer.
A classic Irish Red ale recipe from Samuel Adams, billed as a caramelly malty ale, balanced with East Kent Goldings hops. Now, I’m not a huge fan of red ales to begin with, so that may color my opinion somewhat, but rather than balanced, I find this to be a two-note beer. The first, is a sweet caramel malt as advertised, but the other note, rather than a balancing hop bitterness is sharp astringency to my palate. There’s a nice buttery finish, but this beer just isn’t coming together for me. Not my favorite of Sam Adam’s summer styles this year.
I give it a 2.7 out of 5.
The premise of this IPA is that it is brewed with fresh fall harvest hops from the southern hemisphere, specifically, from New Zealand. It’s released in April, having been brewed within a week of of the hops having been picked in New Zealand. Hops are the focus, and that shines through in the beer. The aroma is nutmeg and pine, and the middle is resiny with lemony zest. The bitterness is concentrated in the finish. This is another really great beer for west coast style IPA fans.
Mighty Oak Ale is a summer seasonal from Samuel Adams, an amber ale aged in oak barrels. It seems to me that oak is easy to overdo, but Sam Adams has delivered a nicely balanced beer in Mighty Oak Ale. There are definite oak flavors, but it’s not overpowering or overly acidic at all. The aroma has a lot of caramel with some hints of vanilla. The middle is where you taste the oak, softened by vanilla, and the finish is sweet with raspberry and fruit with a little more vanilla from the oak right at the very end. This is a very nice beer, with a flavor that’s bigger and bolder than what you often find in a summer seasonal.
This is a really top notch example of a hoppy west-coast style IPA without being overly bitter. There’s pine and grapefruit in the nose. The middle is bready, with more pine and grapefruit. The body is thick and heavy, and the finish is slightly sweet with bread and grapefruit, and just a little bit grassy. This is the first brew that I’ve had from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company, so I didn’t know what to expect, but from the first sip it instantly hit me that this beer is exactly what I want and expect an IPA to be. I really, really like it.
Ska Brewing’s Decadent Imperial IPA pours a lighter orange-pale than I was expecting. Don’t let the color fool you though. This is a big, heavy beer. The scent is that of a pine forest. The middle is thick and chewy, with pine and grapefruit and then there’s a caramel finish lingers on the tongue with a bit of heat from the alcohol at the end. There’s a bit of sweetness at the end, but not as much as I usually get from an Imperial or Double IPA. The flavor profile is hoppier, more like a regular IPA, but the sticky, heavy body and the 10% ABV are certainly in line with a DIPA. A nice beer.
Monkshine is a certified organic Belgian-style Blonde Ale from the Uinta Brewing Co. of Salt Lake City, Utah. The strongest note is banana. There’s banana in the aroma, and through the middle where it starts to fade away. I think I taste some cherry as well. There are some hoppy undertones, like a hint of lemon in the middle and into the finish, but this is predominantly a sweet beer, with a bit of balancing tartness…Not really much in the way of bitterness at all. This blonde ale will probably be most appealing to fans of fruit beers.