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The Session #39 Sierra Nevada Fritz and Ken’s Ale

May 7th, 2010 beckel

The SessionToday I have what is sure to be a fun brew, and seemingly the last new beer to involve Fritz Maytag before the sale of his landmark brewery Anchor Brewing (more about that here). I haven’t participated in The Session for quite some time but after looking at this weeks I realized I have the perfect brew for this months topic: Collaborations. I love collaborative brews for many reasons. In fact I think they are an example of the life blood of the Craft Beer industry. With out cooperation, sharing and support of one another many Craft Breweries would not be where they are today. Not only is it more fun to work with others when brewing but there is also a ton to learn from one another. From techniques to preferences not to mention local traditions and ideas. In honor of collaboration I will be consuming Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary brew which is a collaboration between their brewer Ken Grossman and Anchor Brewing’s Fritz Maytag. I bought this bottle of  Fritz & Ken at The Four Firkins, another at Chicago Lake Liquors and even saw a few still on the shelves of Princeton’s Liquors when I was there earlier today. According to the bottle they decided to brew this Imperial Stout in honor of the Dark Ales and Stouts that seduced them in their early years. Lets see how it goes. Gently poured from a cleanly labeled, caged and corked 750ml bottle over four fingers of creamy tight chocolate colored head are quickly produced. Bubbles slowly open up and even more slowly dissipate. I poured my glass more than five minutes ago and there is still half a finger of reasonably tight head that has yet to settle. A good deal of lacing is present and likely won’t be going anywhere soon. Color is a very opaque dark black that lightens slightly when brought to light. Smells of roasted malts, smoke, chocolate, coffee, gentle malt bitterness and some notable alcohol. Flavor is massively smoky with enjoyable coffee and roasted esters and some residual sweetness to help create some sort of a balance. As it warms the smoky flavors loosen up quite a bit allowing the variety of dark malt esters to shine. Chocolate esters are highlighted exceptionally along with gentle coffee, smooth bitterness and an enjoyable amount of residual sweetness. Pitted fruit esters exist but are incredibly subtle. Body is on the heavy side, but not overly considering the style. Mouthfeel is very smooth and silky despite its massively rich malt profile. At 9.5% ABV this is definitely a sipper but not overly offensive with more than enough dark malt esters to hide the alcohol easily. Over all quite good but not anything particularly unique. If you enjoy Imperial Stouts that are nicely roasted and to style you should certainly enjoy this brew. I will definitely be aging my 2nd bottle to see what it has to offer in a year or two. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Sierra Nevada Fritz & Ken's Ale

Anchor Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2008

November 12th, 2008 beckel

Today I get to drink a massive bottle of a very special ale from San Francisco, California’s Anchor Brewing Company, their 2008 Christmas Ale. Every year Anchor brews this beer with a different recipe and label but the same intent to give you a joyous brew to celebrate life. Though today is more of a bitter sweet day for me, I am sure it will be more joyous after 50.7 ounces of what is sure to be a tasty brew. The initial pour of this beer was probably more carbonated than the future ones will be but produced over 2 inches of a nice frothy light brown head that tastes of spices, caramel and nutmeg and settles in a couple of minutes. This beer really smells like Christmas , nutmeg and other sugary aromas mixed with some gentle dark malt scents including toffee. Color is very black with red hues slipping through when brought to the light. This is a very strange flavored beer. Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and surprisingly uncarbonated, with a rather light body . Sweet is the first word I would use to describe the flavor of this beer, largely toffee. There are other nice malt flavor to round off the taste but it also seems somewhat tart which is odd. This brew wouldn’t be a bad choice to crack into during the holidays as it would compliment all of the sweets you will likely be enjoying but I have a hard time finding a balance of flavors aside from the somewhat caramelized malt that seems to be the base of this beer. Because this recipe changes yearly I do not know its ABV but it seems to be suggested that past years have been around 5.5% ABV which I would say is likely accurate after my two small glasses. Certainly a unique brew an not bad, but far too much Christmas influence for me to purchase it again, though I’ll likely check out next years batch. If your looking for something gentle to spice up the holidays this may not be a bad idea, though it is probably not for those who won’t appreciate its unique qualities. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Anchor Christmas Ale

Anchor Steam

August 6th, 2008 beckel

So here we go again with hopefully another lovely beer from Anchor Brewing out of San Fransisco. This beer first brewed in 1896 took its name from the term “steam” which was used to describe beers brewed with a  more primitive technique because of the difficulties and expense involved in refrigeration at the time, this style is legally referred to as California Common.  This beer pours with a few inches of healthy plentiful light colored head. Color is copper with very subtle red hints and is very transparent, obviously filtered. Aroma is full of gentle but spicy malt, almost sour aromas are also present. Roasted malt flavor hits the palate first and is most notable but slight bitterness is present rounded off by pale almost lager like malt flavors that produce slight citrus hints fitting the style wel. This is an interesting flavored beer somewhat like a brown ale with very little hops, coming in at 4.9% ABV a bit of alcohol is slightly notable but the carbonation is more prevalent. This beer has a rather lite mouthfeel is very easy drinking, good any day of the week. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Anchor Steam

Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine

July 24th, 2008 beckel

As you can see I wasted little time in picking up another brew from Anchor Brewing. This time we have the Old Foghorn a barleywine style ale made in the English tradition. This beer pours a very nice deep dark red color. Head is plentiful, solid and relatively light in color. The aroma of this beer is lovely, strong sweet caramelized malt scents balanced with a slightly bitter smell of fermented fruit and alcohol. This beer has an intense flavor as any good barleywine should. Flavors of intense malt and hop bitterness countinue on to flavors of fermented fruit and sweet caramelized malt, finishes with a delightful dance between the sweet and bitter flavors. Mouthfeel is medium and the ABV of 9.4% is certainly noticeable in this beer but it is by no means unpleasant or predominate. The contrast of flavors make for a delightful sipping beer any time you want a quality strong drink. This is a very good beer, anyone who likes strong or complex beers will likely find this to be a good choice. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Anchor Old Foghorn

Anchor Liberty Ale

July 20th, 2008 beckel

I have heard nothing but praise about beer from Anchor Brewing so i figured it was high time I gave some a try. Liberty Ale is an American pale ale out of San Fransisco, California clockig in at a pleasant 6% ABV. First brewed in 1975 to celebrate the bicentennial of the famous ride by Paul Revere. This lovely light orange beer has some intense carbonation, careful when pouring. Head is strong but also has some small champaign like bubbles. Smell is nice, somewhat pale but sweet citrus is also present.Tastes Mostly of lightly sweet pale malt, but there is also some nice bitterness. The balance is very nice and the yeast definitely helps makes this a good flavorful beer. Mouthfeel is pretty light. This is a darn good pale ale, flavors range from sweet to bitter to even a bit sour and balance out amazingly. A grand choice on a warm day or if you just prefer less hops but like a good beer with quality ingredients. I will definitely be picking up more Anchor beers. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Anchor Liberty Ale