Beer enthusiasts are fickle, and we know it. We’re not brand loyal, at least not completely so. Sure, we may have our favorite brands, but by and large we tend to hop from beer to beer, brewery to brewery, style to style. Brewers didn’t take long to catch onto this, and many of them started producing limited-run batches of specialty brews, beers they would brew and release and move onto something else. What to do, though, if a beer was really tasty and you wanted it again?
Anchor Brewing of San Francisco, though certainly one of America’s first real craft brewers, was late to the party of specialty brews in limited bottlings. Their Zymaster Series was launched in February of 2012, and is still going strong today. The first Zymaster release was Anchor California Lager, and with regard to the opening theme of this review, it’s a beer that was popular enough to become a year-round beer for Anchor.
The beer I’m drinking tonight is not the Zymaster edition, but rather a bottle of the free-standing Anchor California Lager. The label on this beer immediately grabbed me when I saw it in Total Wine, such that I grabbed the bottle, read the neck label and learned that the beer, like the brewery, has a history:
Anchor Steam's® roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable California option. In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California's first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic beer.
Anchor California Lager is made with two-row barley malt from California and Cluster hops, Clusters being the oldest American hop varietal. Anchor lagers and krausens California Lager, krausening being a method of adding fresh unfermented wort during condition to add carbonation. That certainly showed when I poured the beer with an almost champagne-like bubbly character. Anchor California Lager has an alcohol content of 4.9% by volume and runs $8.99 a six-pack at Total Wine here in Georgia.
Anchor California Lager pours to a brilliant golden color with a thick creamy head of rocky tan foam and an inviting fresh malty nose laced with a gentle suggestion of grassy hops. A steady stream of bubbly effervescence permeates the brew. The palate features a delicious fresh maltiness up front that is crisp, biscuity, and even a little toasty. The hops come in at the finish slightly herbal-grassy and decidedly bitter, more than balancing off the malt and taking over in the finish.
I found Anchor California Lager to be a wonderful pilsner-style brew that satisfies and whets the palate for cuisine. Dare I suggest it with an All-American burger with all the fixings? It would serve to wash same down, and plenty of other fare for that matter, quite nicely.
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.