So just the other day my good buddy Douglas Smith and I were discussing Anchor beers. In a nutshell, we were both remarking about the fact that the sale of the brewery by beer legend Fritz Maytag a few years ago had allowed Anchor to branch out and try new things. In no way is this a knock on Fritz Maytag; in large part, you’re drinking that craft beer in your hand right now thanks to Fritz Maytag. Fritz, though, pretty much kept Anchor focused on a handful of core beers, and wonderful beers they were and continue to be.
Anyway, one of the new beers Anchor is branching out with is Anchor Barrel Ale. Fittingly, Anchor Barrel Ale is a tribute beer to Fritz (he’s there on the label) and the brewing heritage he helped to restore here in America. If you’ve never seen Fritz describe how he came into the brewing business in Michael Jackson’s acclaimed Beer Hunter series, you’re really missing out, and should get working on correcting that.
Back to Anchor Barrel Ale, though. Anchor Barrel Ale really began life as Anchor’s Our Barrel Ale, a blend of several Anchor beers aged in Anchor Old Potrero whiskey barrels. That beer was very limited in production (there just weren’t enough Old Potrero barrels), so Anchor changed things up a bit and started aging on satves rather than in entire barrels. The result: Anchor Barrel Ale, a part of their Argonaut special release series.
From the Anchor website:
This ale is our tribute to pioneer brewer, distiller, and visionary Fritz Maytag. In 1965—at twenty-seven—he rescued America’s smallest, most traditional brewery, igniting a revolution in craft brewing that continues today. With the founding of Anchor Distilling in 1993, Fritz blazed a new trail toward the creation of craft-distilled whiskeys and gins.
Ingredients from the website:
Malt: A blend of pale 2-row, caramel, roasted & toasted malts
Hops: Nelson Sauvin, Citra, Cascade, Northern Brewer, Nugget & Golding Aging
Process: Aged in used Old Potrero® Rye whiskey barrels and their staves
Anchor Barrel Ale has an alcohol content of 7.5% by volume. I paid $24.50 for a 64-ounce growler at Stout’s; it runs $10.49 a 4-pack at Total Wine here in Georgia. Interesting to note that I filled my Drink Tank growler with this beer and drank half, then charged it with CO2. I came down with some unpleasant virus and didn’t get to the remaining half for three weeks. Amazingly, it was as good and fresh as it was on day one. Gotta love that Drink Tank.
Anchor Barrel Ale pours to a jet black color with a medium sized head of creamy tan foam and a subtle nose of charcoal and bourbon. Taking a sip the beer is rich and full up front with dark fruity notes of prune and raisin, light chocolate, all permeated with boozy bourbon and charcoal. The beer finishes boozy with a bit of warming alcohol, more than there really is. All in all, I found Anchor Barrel Ale to have a nigh-perfect balance of barrel aging on a luscious fruity dark ale. It’s a bit pricey, but not enough to keep me from buying it again. Here’s to you Fritz Maytag! Thanks for all you’ve done for beer.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.