Maybe I'm dating myself a bit, but my beer drinking career goes back almost thirty years now. It was way back in 1982 that I was first old enough to legally buy the stuff, and I can tell you that in those days a beer drinker's choices were nothing like they are today. Still, even then, one beer you could depend on finding just about anywhere was Anchor Steam Beer. Pricey as it was at about eight bucks a six-pack (I could get a case of Tuborg or Schmidt's for that), I still remember standing in line at Haxton's in Warwick, RI with a six-pack of Anchor Liberty Ale clutched in my greedy little hands.
So, Anchor officially qualifies as a classic, and the company is one of my very favorite breweries in America. Imagine my excitement, then, when I heard in 2005 that they were brewing a bock beer, bock being of course my very favorite style. There was just one problem: Anchor wasn't distributing the beer outside California.
It took them five years to rethink that philosophy, it seems, but today I was quite surprised to see cases of Anchor Bock Beer piled high at the local Total Wine store. Of course I snapped one up, and rushed home with my prize posthaste. I was surprised to see that Anchor uses both wheat and barley malts to make their bock, just one on the many quirks in this tasty little brew.
Anchor Bock Beer pours to a dark mahogany color with a light but creamy head formation and an herbal hop and nutty malt nose. As soon as I popped the cap on this one I knew it was not going to be your average bock when I got a whiff of herbal grassy hop aroma. But this is Anchor, after all, so why should I be surprised?
Taking a sip, my conviction that this will be an idiosyncratic little brew is reinforced: the dark, roasty, chocolaty malt notes remind me of Anchor's Christmas brew, Our Special Ale, sans spicing. Well, not entirely without spicing, as the fragrant, earthy, herbal, even slightly piney hops that infuse the beer will attest. All well and good you say, but where's the goat in this bock beer?
Billy is on his way, never fear. I'm liking the slightly nutty notes and the deep chocolate flavors. The light molasses adds to the "bock" feel, too. These flavors fall somewhere between a classic bock and a doppel in malt profile, although at just 5.5% alcohol by volume Anchor Bock is not really as strong as either style usually demands. Hints of dark fruit (mostly raisin) have me thinking this is not a lager, but is rather fermented with ale yeast. The finish is balanced by a slightly herbal hop bitterness.
I really like this one. It's one part nutty bock beer, one part Anchor eccentricity, and in this case the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. A truly delicious, satisfying, and substantial brew perfect for the warming days but still cool nights of spring. While it's not entirely true to style, I'm giving it a full five stars on a hedonistic scale all the same.
Anchor Bock Beer simply should not be missed.
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.