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Anchor California Lager – a tasty historic American Lager

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JackHorzempa, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    There. I fixed that for everyone. :D
  2. utopiajane

    utopiajane Jun 11, 2013 New York

    I just tried the anchor steam and I think it's terrific. The hops do not assault, the balance is clean and the bitter is settled like a predisposition. Really easy to like and has a classic appearance and taste. Not a hop bomb, but aesthetic and pleasing. It put ST 2X steam to bed.
  3. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    The Anchor Steam, or the Anchor California Lager (of which this thread was originally about)?

    I ask for confirmation because many think that the brewery is the Anchor Steam Brewery (I just had an Anchor Steam Porter (sic)), when it's the Anchor Brewery and the steam beer is just one of its styles.
  4. utopiajane

    utopiajane Jun 11, 2013 New York

    I tried the "steam" because it was mentioned and because I have been waiting to try it. Jack mentions it in comparison and that was what was available here today. =)

    No this was the anchor steam beer, not the porter.
    tabascosigned likes this.
  5. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Very good, thanks for the confirmation. I can't believe someone out there had never tried the Steam, but then again -- I'm old and the Steam was probably one of the first micros I ever tried.

    Now find the California Lager, it's worth seeking out too.
    Heh -- the "Porter" was mentioned because I always have people asking me, "Have you had Anchor Steam Porter?" or, "...Anchor Steam Christmas Beer?" The franchise style of the brewery has become the brewery's name to some.
  6. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Mainstream beer drinkers? ADJUNCT lagers, yes. But I should have been more specific, as I don't think that's what we're talking about here. I'm referring to the aforementioned American Pale Lager, Munich Helles, German/Czech Pils...etc. I'm not seeing any of those in the top ten on BA, or in the top ten best selling beers in America.

    Mainstream craft drinkers? Clearly they love IPAs.

    Let's take Victory for example. I don't consider thier Victory Lager (a Munich Helles) to be safe or gimmicky. It's a difficult style to nail that isn't going to fly off the shelves, even if it is well-made. Bud Light drinkers won't go after it, and new craft drinkers won't either. The Bud Light drinker MAY give Headwaters a try (their best selling beer), or Whirlwind Wit. And the craft drinker will certainly turn towards Hop Devil (their second best selling).

    I certainly don't consider Anchor California Lager "safe" or "gimmicky". Maybe if they brewed a witbier or an IPA.
    Crusader, surfcaster and JackHorzempa like this.
  7. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the Steam. I like the Liberty and Porter better (especially the Porter- still one of my all-time faves, their yeast signature is amazing in that beer), but we all do have our preferences. I will be searching for the incredible Humming Ale tomorrow, and can't wait to get my hands on the California Lager as well. They do have a heck of a portfolio.

    For whatever it's worth, you should learn their crazy-ass dating system if you are going try any more of their beers; it's explained on the BA page here:
    you get used to it after a while ;)

    utopiajane likes this.
  8. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Unfortunately, NJ wasn't on the list of states outside of California that were getting the California Lager. I notice Humming along with other non-core Anchor beers like Bock and Small Beer are all increasingly hard to find in NJ, too - though that may vary with region, since Anchor has quite a few distributors in state (AB house in my region, but IIRC also Miller and MillerCoors, and indie wholesalers elsewhere).

    Yeah, that's important. I started carrying that code in a filecard "cheat sheet" in my wallet over a decade ago - and since then, I've certainly bought a lot less Anchor products- it's shocking how old some of their beers can be (and may explain why so many stores don't carry the above - even the core brands don't sell).

    Stopped into a liquor store called "Wine Academy" that should be sub-title "... & Beer Museum", since it was next door to a BYOB sushi place I was going to lunch at. Even though it's a relatively new business, I had a difficult time finding a fresh craft beer in their multiple cooler doors. (SNPA bottled in 2012? If they can't move the best selling craft beer, what's the hope for the rest?) I was somewhat surprised when, desperate - bottle after bottle of past-dated beers - I pulled out an Anchor Steam bottle to find it was bottled in mid-May. About as fresh as one's gonna find in NJ.
  9. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Good to know, though I'll be heading to a store up in NY today. The guys who run it are pretty sharp- if the California Lager is not there I'll try to get some info on if/when it'll be in NY.

    As to the freshness, I find that a lot of their beers are pretty good up to about 6 months old- after that you are definitely taking a chance. And, yeah, a lot of places around here tend to hover around that 6 month mark. The beauty of a seasonal like Humming (if I can find it) is that you know it's good to go when you see it.
  10. Flashy

    Flashy Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    Guilty as charged.
  11. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I got some California Lager yesterday, and it's definitely available in NY. Very nice beer for a heatwave! It is pretty straightforward and clean, with a definite suggestion of those cluster hops- just about what I expected, so I'm glad I got it.

    Still no word on Humming Ale in NY or NJ- I was told to expect it late August at the earliest.
    keithmurray likes this.
  12. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, according to their own Press Release they shipped it to the Northeast and all around NJ - NY, PA, MD, MA - but skipped us, even though NJ was one of Anchor's first east coast markets in the early 80's.
    (I blame the new, ex-Skyy Vodka guys ;)).
  13. TongoRad

    TongoRad Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Well, at least they have us surrounded, which is good if you live or work near one of those borders. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way for it, though.

    Did you get to try it yet? It seems to be something you'd appreciate. I have to admit getting a wave of nostalgia with my first sip- something about that flavor brought me back to a lot of what was available in the 70s (only better! ;)). At this point i'm still trying to decide if my appreciation is based more around intellectual curiosity or the actual flavor profile. I guess I'll know in a few weeks if a craving crops up and I wind up getting it again.
    steveh likes this.
  14. foles

    foles Jan 28, 2007 Australia

    Nothing like a classic, especially when supremely balanced and fresh. Raise a glass for the Anchor's, Sierra Nevada's, Coopers, Fullers, and Weihenstephan's of the world!
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “Nothing like a classic, especially when supremely balanced and fresh.”


    slim2043 likes this.
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    FWIW, I bought my second six-pack of California Lager yesterday. This beer is a "winner" for me. foles described this be perfectly IMHO: "supremely balanced".

    Again, Cheers to Anchor for making this tasty historical beer!
    keithmurray and TongoRad like this.
  17. kingofhop

    kingofhop May 9, 2010 Oklahoma

    Prov, I'm so old I can almost relate to the 1800's. Yes, very good beer. Peace, brother.
    Providence likes this.
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Jesse, I apologize; I ‘missed’ your post. You are better off doing a reply function vs. depending on me picking up on a message.

    You asked: “Did they do right in their attempt at recreating history?” The short answer to that is yes.

    The longer answer:

    Malt selection

    Needless to say but there is no barley varieties grown today that are exactly the same as was grown in the late 1800s. Anchor chose to use a California grown 2-row. I think they made this selection for two reasons. The first is to use California grown barley since the name of the beer is California Lager plus the beer they were emulating would have used locally grown barley. The second is that present day North American 2-row likely has a flavor profile similar to the barley that was used in the late 1800s.

    Hops Selection

    Anchor uses California grown Cluster hops which is very likely the same hops used for the Boca beer. Cluster hops were the dominant hop used to brew American beers until fairly recently (Cascade became available in the early 70’s). Some imported hops were used for brewing but they were a minority hop.

    Yeast Selection

    Anchor used a modern day lager strain. For the most part there is not a tremendous amount of variability in lager yeast strains (unlike ale yeast strains where there is a lot of variance). So, I would suggest that the lager yeast they used is similar to what Boca used.


    I don’t know whether Anchor did anything the mimic the water that Boca used.


    TongoRad and Providence like this.
  19. Angst

    Angst Nov 8, 2007 California
    Beer Trader

    If anyone is ever in SF. I highly recommend taking a tour of Anchor Brewing. There's a long history with them. Anchor played a major role in craft beer history.
  20. Providence

    Providence Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    My bad, I thought I did reply to you. Thanks for the response!

  21. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I almost grabbed this the other night, then I went into the cooler to see what else they had. When I returned out front, it was gone. That's ok, I got a mix of Smuttynose Wunderbar Pilser, Troegs Sunshine Pils, Dogfishead Festina Peche, and Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat. I think I did ok for a hot summer night.

    Is Anchor brewing more of this? I'd be disappointed if I missed out.
  22. bleakies

    bleakies Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Anyone found this (or the Humming Ale, when in season) in Boston?
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I think you will get more California Lager.

    Of the beers you mentioned I have Troegs Sunshine Pils, Dogfishead Festina Peche, and Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat
    in my basement. You have some tasty beers there.

    Cheers to you!
  24. slim2043

    slim2043 Jul 23, 2012 Connecticut

    2x is pretty awesome and I'm an Anchor Steam junky...
  25. slim2043

    slim2043 Jul 23, 2012 Connecticut

    [quote="jesskidden, post: 1525741, I notice Humming along with other non-core Anchor beers like Bock and Small Beer are all increasingly hard to find in [/quote]

    Small Beer... Does anyone else do this? Anchor rules!
  26. incapacitant

    incapacitant Jan 15, 2011 New York

    Great news and I hope I'm lucky enough to find some. Steam was my gateway beer. I take the brewery tour every single time I'm in SF like I'm going to church.
  27. ZionNation

    ZionNation Jun 24, 2013 Arizona

    I have always been a fan of Anchor beers, however over the last few years they have definitely been overshadowed and less than innovative. The Steam, Liberty, and Old Foghorn are classics, but they have been around forever. The Humming was decent and the Brown was really good, but they aren't pushing the envelope or anything. I love a great lager or pilsner, but didn't pick up the lager when I had a chance. all that said, recently I tried the Cismonte California Common and it blows the Steam out of the water.

    and yeah, the few times I have been to the Anchor brewery, they did treat me right and sent me on my way good and drunk. no other brewery has done that.
  28. RobertColianni

    RobertColianni Nov 4, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I was really excited to try California Lager, but it was really a huge letdown. I found it to be far too bite-y and completely flavorless, not standing out from any BMC "Pilsner" at all. I should also note that I'm a fan of Anchor.
    zid likes this.
  29. Doc_Hops

    Doc_Hops Feb 5, 2013 Pennsylvania

    This guy was pleasantly surprising! Had a lot of flavor and was incredibly drinkable. Definitely didn't disappoint.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “I found it to be far too bite-y and completely flavorless

    “This guy was pleasantly surprising! Had a lot of flavor and was incredibly drinkable.”

    It is always interesting to see how different people’s palates are.

    RobertColianni likes this.
  31. KingBiscuit

    KingBiscuit May 30, 2005 Illinois

    Picked up a cold six pack today; 4 down and will probably enjoy the other 2 before the evening is out. (calling Joe six-pack). Damn tasty as lagers go. Hope they sell it in 12 packs. Nice break from the IPA DIPA's etc.
  32. BeerNDoggerel

    BeerNDoggerel Mar 13, 2011 Illinois

    Stopped by my local beer emporium to buy beer to take to a party, and the owner convinced me to take this. Made me very popular--except it was gone in a flash, so I was accused of not bringing enough!

    Although... I might have enjoyed even more the Ballast Point Fathom I.P.L. I had with dinner on the way to the party. Two lagers in one night. For this hophead, that's almost unimaginable, especially since I loved both!
  33. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Nov 6, 2007 California

    I thought that the concept behind this beer was really cool and I really wanted to like it but I guess I just don't like cluster hops. Really weird bitterness. That's one hop that I just wish we'd let die already.
  34. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Funny, but that's the way I feel about Citra. Guess that's the beauty of diversity! :)
    Pegli likes this.
  35. ESHBG

    ESHBG Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I picked up a 6-pack and felt the same exact way. I am glad that I tried it and would recommend for anyone who is curious to try it, but I don't think that this beer will be in my regular rotation.
  36. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    Drinking this now for the 2nd 6 pack (originally tried in early June) & like it even more. Enjoy the cluster hops & like the distinct flavor it adds. Definitely in my lager rotation from here on.
    KingBiscuit likes this.
  37. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Finally got a hold of a six pack, and I have to agree in regards to the unique flavor the hops add. It's definitely the lasting flavor that is lingering on my tongue. Clean, crisp lager, perfect for a summer night. Malt reminds me more of a pilsner than a helles, almost like a hybrid. Regardless, this is another winner from Anchor.

    Any brewery that can impress me with a simple beer these days grabs my attention more than another double IPA offering.
  38. tabascosigned

    tabascosigned Oct 4, 2012 Virginia

    am I the only one who lumps Anchor and Green Flash together?
    they seem so underrated individually and I love them both equally more than anything from Michigan.

    It must be because California is lacking oh so much in beer presence.

  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “am I the only one who lumps Anchor and Green Flash together?”

    Well, that thought would never occur to me.

    From my perspective Anchor makes a lot of non-extreme beers that are very, very solid. I view California Lager as another beer that fits this motif.

    I think the beers that Green Flash makes are very tasty but the particular beers that I have consumed from Green Flash have been more on the extreme side of the spectrum: Rayon Vert, Palate Wrecker, Double Stout. I personally have stopped buying Green Flash when they switched to the four-pack format and also concurrently raised their prices on a per bottle basis. As tasty as Green Flash beers are I can buy beers from other breweries that are just as tasty but reasonably priced; Green Flash is a rip-off IMHO.

  40. Pegli

    Pegli Aug 30, 2006 Rhode Island

    I just picked some up and I dig it. For some reason, I was expecting it to be less "supremely balanced"...overall, really nice and smooth.
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