Saturday, April 21, 2012

023. Anchor Liberty Ale is full steam ahead!

This ale really surprised me. I tend to walk on the dark side (I hear they have cookies) and there are only a few lighter beers and ales that really float my boat. For the past few weeks I've been hitting the hard stuff with alcohol contents around 9%, so I decided to give my palate (and liver) a rest this week and go cruising in fairer waters (and yes, I will probably keep making maritime puns for the duration, so batten down your hatches and ride out the storm). So this week I set sail with Liberty Ale by the Anchor Brewing Co. of San Francisco.

This oversize beer (1 pint, 6 ounces) was shipped in a very dark brown bottle, so I had no idea how light or dark it was. I picked it up at either Randall's or Kroger's in NW Houston -- sorry, don't recall the price but I think it was about $6 - $9. Don't hold me to that, though.

When I popped the top I was pleasantly greeted by a nice aroma of yeast and citrus (and dare I say it, a tease of barley?). I think there were hops under there somewhere, but I'm a little stuffed up tonight (danged allergies!) so I'm not completely sure of that. Also, I had a few sips of whiskey earlier in the evening (man does not live by beer alone). The whiskey could explain why my pour was more aggressive than usual, but it did yield results: A huge, white head atop a wonderfully clear golden body. It really is a nice beer to look at, making me think of warm tropical sunsets along the beach as Frankie and Annette frolic on the sand while playing a game of Beach Blanket Bingo:

My first sip at 48 degrees failed to impress -- it was like the wind had not yet hit its sails and was waiting to loosen up so it could breath. I let it warm (taking a few exploratory sips along the way) to about 55 degrees and discovered that the beer had found its win and was rapidly cruising into a sweet spot where the flavors and aromas were dancing happily together like those beach party kids.

From the label
San Francisco’s famous Liberty Ale was first brewed on the 18th of April, 1975 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s historic ride. It is virtually handmade by the brewers of Anchor Steam Beer in one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world. Liberty Ale is made with the finest barley malt, fresh, whole hops, top fermenting yeast, pure water and the simple natural methods which reflect our exceptional respect for the ancient art of brewing. It is "dry hopped", a classic ale tradition, and slowly completes its fermentation in sealed vats in out cellars. This unique process creates Liberty Ale’s distinctive bouquet and uncommonly delicate, entirely natural carbonation.
For me, this is definitely a spring/summer beer because it is lighter and crave something salty like chips or brisket. I can imagine sipping this down in Galveston, looking out over the waves and getting ready to enjoy a nice barbecue with friends and family. I can't picture wanting this in the winter months, though, as that's when my tastes turn to darker fare.

But while it's light and sunny, this is definitely something I can enjoy. There's a little something about it, by the way, that reminds me of Mexican beers. I'm not quite sure why, but the association is definitely there. I'm definitely enjoying this and will definitely buy it again.

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Color:  Light, clear golden brown
Aroma: Citrus with an undercurrent of hops
Hops: Light, but very pleasantly balanced
Head: Big, light and a decent staying power
Lace: Strong but clumpy at cooler temps, but spreads out as it warms
Carbonation:  Excellent! The bubbles keep on coming.
Temperature Sweet Spot: 55 -59 degrees (bitterness sets in around 60 degrees)
ABV: 6%
My Rating: 8 out of 10 as a lighter, summer ale
(in the winter, I'd probably give it a 5)

Other Reviews Worth a Sip:
The Beer Trials makes an interesting observation or two: "Liberty Ale is a bright, refreshing pale ale that straddles the line between an American-styled pale ale and an English IPA. A delightful crispness and bright carbonation are paired with flavor hops and yeast that avoid typical West Coast resin-pine character. Hop bitterness is light at first and builds over several steps to an assertive finish. This is a well-crafted ale that seems a touch nostalgic, rather like the label." has some interesting info on the brewing process. It's definitely worth checking out.

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