Back in 2010, you see, I was worried. Fritz Maytag, craft brewing pioneer and savior of San Francisco’s legendary Anchor Brewing, had just sold the company to the “Griffin Group”. Certainly, Fritz had earned the right. He had fought long and hard to build the brand and the company, and Anchor Beers were by the time of the sale among the most highly regarded in the country, if not the world.
You will understand my trepidation, however, when I explain that Anchor beers were among the very first craft beers to pass the lips of this guru of brew, almost 30 years ago now as I type at you. What would happen to them now? Would they become a mere commodity? The new owners had, after all, pledged to expand Anchor’s reach. To be fair, other brewers had done this without compromising quality, but this was Anchor after all!
So far, I’m happy to say my fears have been allayed. Not only has the quality of Anchor’s existing beers not suffered, they’ve also rolled out several news ones of high caliber. Their delightfully hoppy Humming Ale is a fine example of that, as is their latest new brew, Brekle’s Brown All Malt Single Hop Brown Ale. I must admit that I liked Brekle’s Brown Ale even before I got it out of the store. The first thing that strikes you about it is the bottle: a 22-ounce bomber fashioned to resemble the rounded stubby bottles Anchor uses in the 12-ounce size. Pretty darned cool. The price is pleasing, too, just a mere $3.99, a welcome respite from high priced beers in bombers and fifths these days.
Brekle’s Brown Ale is named for Gottlieb Brekle, German immigrant and Anchor brewer. I’ll let Anchor tell you about him:
Anchor Brewing’s roots date back to the early 1850s and the California gold rush, when pioneer brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived in San Francisco from Germany. In 1871, he purchased an old beer-and-billiards saloon near Russian Hill and transformed it into the little brewery that—twenty-five years later—would be renamed Anchor. Brekle’s™ Brown is a celebration of Anchor’s 140-year brewing legacy.
Brekle’s Brown Ale is brewed with Munich, 2 Row Pale and Caramel malts. The beer is hopped with the new Citra hybrid, which has a parentage of German and English hop varieties. Alcohol by volume is 6%, a bit strong to recommend this as a session beer but by no means a strong brew according to today’s standards. The late 2011 release of this beer was its first appearance in bottled form.
Anchor Brekle’s Brown All Malt Single Hop Brown Ale pours to a murky dark brown color with a very thick creamy head formation and a wonderfully enticing nose of luscious sweet dark malt and earthy hops. The palate has deep but soft chocolaty malt notes, like a fresh baked chocolate brownie; a firm nuttiness suggests chopped walnuts to complete the impression. Sweet brown sugar is apparent as well, and in the finish some spicy citric orange and herbal hops. Truth be told, this beer is amazing, I just love the robust but not overstated chocolaty malt here. In many ways, this reminds me of Our Special Ale in malt profile, sans the spices.
Brekle’s Brown is a year-round brew, which makes me happy; I’ll be heading back to pick up more, especially at this bargain price. If you haven’t tried it yet, you just don’t know what you’re missing. A five star beer with the low price factored in.
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.