Anchor Liberty Ale - 40 years old this year!

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BeerVikingSailor, Jan 7, 2015.

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  1. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,883) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, that's a perfect analogy (well, except ol' Henry owned his own assembly plants...:grinning:.).

    Wow, you really put Maytag's significance to the craft beer at 0.56%? :rolling_eyes: I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find quotes from most of the early "micro brewers" that credit Maytag and Anchor for inspiration and, for the local west coasters, advice and help.

    Jim Schleuter (River City Brewing) had worked for Schlitz, Bert Grant has worked for big brewers (and hop companies) in the US and Canada, as had Joe Owades (Rheingold, Carling, AB) and Bill Moeller (Horlacher, Ortlieb, Schmidt's).
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  2. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    I stand humbly corrected.
  3. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,660) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    That is a pretty good one. Do keep in mind, though, that Matthew Reich of New Amsterdam pioneered the contract-brewing business model prior to Samuel Adams having greater success with it. I'm not sure how that affects the analogy at that point...
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  4. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,883) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    That'd make Reich the Ransom Olds of craft brewing. They both even sell out (to Matt and GM, respectively) and their brands are both eventually discontinued.
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  5. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Champion (811) Nov 19, 2009 Ohio

    Yes.....I agree with that, to an extent

    But Maytag resurrected a dying brewery in San Francisco, days before it was going to close, and did some pretty major things that no one like him had done before....and it worked....amazingly!

    I originally posted this thread as it seems like many in the young craft drinking world (yes, I am old, and have been drinking beer, before it was known as "craft", for many decades!) do not know (or care sadly) how all this got started....Anchor Liberty Ale and Anchor Brewing in general, should be venerated for what they have accomplished over these many years.

    Can we credit also Charlie Papazian (and yes, I have a well read copy of his homebrewing book!) and early home brewers with helping kick start all this? Sure....but let's give Anchor and Liberty Ale their 15 minutes, shall we?
  6. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Champion (811) Nov 19, 2009 Ohio

  7. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    Well, there were many other people who carried the ball that has become the craft beer victory. It wasn't just McAuliffe, Grossman & Camusi, Boulder Brewing. There were companies that didn't make it, like Cartwright (came out of a winery), Steam Beer Brewery (ditto), River City, New Amsterdam and many others. Some had home-brewed, but not all. I'm pretty sure New Amsterdam's president, called Matthew Reich I think, hadn't. Jim Koch hadn't. Had Garrett Oliver home-brewed before working at Manhattan Brewing Company? Maybe. Anyway it was a bunch of disparate people.
  8. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    All correct but a child has but one mother.
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  9. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Champion (811) Nov 19, 2009 Ohio

    Amen, brother
  10. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (936) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    True and you always know who the mother is. The father is another story.
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  11. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Champion (811) Nov 19, 2009 Ohio

  12. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    Well that's it. Lots of influences here. Homebrewing was an important one, not the only one.
  13. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    All this is true but my point is the effect on the consumer. I tried New Amsterdam and many of the early beers mentioned. So did countless others. They helped form the market for craft beer. The people who didn't stay the course are as important as those who did in this sense. This is why Jim Koch helped reissue New Albion some years back. In fact, maybe Anchor would consider reissuing that dark '75 version of Liberty Ale! That would be a hoot. I don't think it would though because apparently it used some sugar.
  14. Mark

    Mark Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2001 California

  15. Mark

    Mark Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2001 California

    Had some just a couple of days ago and it's as tasty as ever. Anchor is iconic and special. I grew up in S.F. and have visited the brewery.
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  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,883) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    1971 was the first year it was bottled, but obviously Anchor Steam Beer (of various recipes) dates back to the founding of the brewing company using that name in the 1890s.

    How do you know that? Lots of dry-hopped beers in the US existed before Liberty Ale and the hop schedule is unknown for most of them but, given the much fewer hop varieties available in the past, it is likely many of the dry-hopped US beers might have been single hopped.

    I don't know - I have a lot of respect for the now-retired Fritz Maytag, but the new owners seems to be playing fast and loose with US brewing history with all these claims of some of the Anchor beers being the "first modern American ____ brewed after prohibition...".

    What does that even mean? How are they defining "modern" if they also say "after prohibition"? If they mean by it "the craft era", well - that is kinda redundant since Maytag's Anchor defines the beginning of the craft era.

    But if "modern" is post-Repeal, there were a couple dozen American IPAs, many more Stock Ales and other dry-hopped ales (and a few lagers) and US porters probably numbering over a hundred brewed in the US after the passage of the 21st Amendment.

    Anchor Brewing Co. has an important and unique place in US brewing history - seems to me some of their current exaggerated claims are gilding the lily.
  17. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    Anchor's Liberty Ale was the first commercial ale I believe hopped with Cascade unless some cream ales of the era got in earlier, but the '75 commemorative one was dry-hopped and had a potent character. Henry Weinhard Private Reserve, a lager, also had a prominent Cascade aroma, and I'm not sure if it preceded Liberty Ale or not.
  18. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    I tend to agree about the ads. I think the porter's real significance is being all-malt, actually, calling it the first modern commercially-made all-malt porter would be accurate I think.
  19. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    By the way, it is interesting to read the late Jim Robertson's descriptions of Liberty Ale and the Our Special Ales which inspired it in his 1983 edition of The Connoisseur's Guide To Beer. The wording he uses shows how revolutionary was the taste introduced by this beer as well as SNPA of course, also reviewed in the book. In general, he uses terms like "opening a can of lychee", "floral", "citrus". You can tell by reading his words how different these beers were from the mass of American lagers reviewed in the book but also the numerous imports reviewed. I would never think to call Liberty Ale in the vein of lychee but when you think about it, that fruity, "preserved" (the alcohol) taste kind of fits the bill.
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,254) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I would love to drink a re-creation of the 1975 version of Liberty Ale (including sugar if it was used then). The current head brewer of Anchor, Mark Carpenter, formulated that first Liberty Ale and I am sure he could accurately recreate it. That would be an excellent idea as a 40th anniversary celebration of Liberty Ale.

    Cheers to the 1975 version of Liberty Ale!
  21. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    I agree and have heard Mark Carpenter, and also Fritz Maytag, discuss the beer. It was on the dark side (perhaps crystal malt contributed to this), used sugar and was dry-hopped with Cascade. Jim Roberston calls it coffee-colored in the Connoisseur's Guide to Beer, I believe the '78 edition, which is interesting. Fritz had been influenced by a trip to England he took but later decided to go all-malt and with a lighter color. The Our Special Ale that year, as far as I can tell, was this kind of beer or closer anyway to what Liberty Ale was when released as a regular item in '83 or '84. I remember tasting some of those Our Special Ales and being struck by the light color because at that time anyway there was just the impression a Christmas or festival beer had to be dark.
  22. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (13,598) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Cheers to Anchor all around.
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  23. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Loved Liberty Ale when I finally managed to track it down some 30 years ago and did so for many many years after when it WAS easily my favourite American beer. But the last time I had a bottle in I was disappointed. Whether it was a 'bad' bottle of the effect of my palate suffering many years of mega hop annihilation I'm not sure but this thread has me hankering to try it again. Thanks OP.
  24. Redneckwine

    Redneckwine Disciple (304) Dec 3, 2013 Washington

    I've wanted to try it for over a year now along with a few other Anchor brews, but for the life of me I just cannot find it fresh. Of course, the only store that carries anything other than Steam is Total Wine, and if you've taken a look around a TW ever you'll know what I mean when it comes to old beer. Massive selection, but Anchor stuff (among many others) just doesn't seem to move. One day...
  25. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (4,006) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Based on my most recent case of this beer, I'd guess palate/expectations rather than quality. (But there is that big unknown of how it was treated before getting to you.)
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  26. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    I agree. Judging from how long Liberty Ale tends to stay on the shelves over here my guess is that it is the later. Shame all around but still going to prioritise it next purchase.
  27. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    I've tried to figure out the best before system on the Anchor bottles but can't quite do it, I think they claim an 18 month period. The bottles are pasteurized, which does offer some guarantee of stability, but I know I've had some Anchors in the past that tasted "tired" and clearly the newer the better.
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  28. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,357) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    It's a "bottled on" rather than "best by" date. If only the dot font was easier to read. From their website:

    The date code currently being used by Anchor Brewing Company (post-October 1991) replaces the clock-face that used to show the bottling month as one of 12 small notches around the main label. A three character code is now included on the new back label of the bottle. The code works like this:

    The first character is always numeric and represents the last digit of the year. The second character is always alpha and represents the month by using the first letter of the month unless that letter has already been used:

    January: J
    February: F
    March: M
    April: A
    May: Y
    June: U

    July: L
    August: G
    September: S
    October: O
    November: N
    December: D

    The third character in the code is either alpha or numeric and tells the day of the month. The first 26 days are represented by the alphabet with the remaining days listed as:

    27th through 29th = 7 through 9
    30th = 3
    31st = 1

    An example of a date code would be: January 20, 2012 = 2JT
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  29. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    Okay great thanks. Why the delphic system though, IMO it should state best before or packaging date in plain English.
  30. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,883) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Were the bottles purchased in the US or Canada? Pretty sure I've read others note that exported Anchor bottles have a different method of coding, in some cases to meet the local legal requirement for a "best by" date, and not the system zid copied from Anchor's FAQ.

    In the US, Anchor doesn't suggested a shelf life period for their beer, but in that same FAQ they note they do require refrigeration at the distributor level
    and request it on the retail level on their case cartons (a request almost universally ignored from what I've seen).

    In a well-known article about beer freshness in The Wall Street Journal “The Search for Fresh Beer” Jan. 28, 2006, Maytag was asked about their code and lack of a "best before" date and said:

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  31. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Zealot (583) Nov 23, 2008 New York

    The coding system is obtuse enough, but even worse is the legibility of the code on the bottle labels. On all the bottles I've ever seen the code wasn't printed, but was punched using some kind of pin-hole matrix device and was nearly indecipherable in every instance. Mastering the coding system is possible, but only if you can read it. :rolling_eyes:
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  32. Hodgson

    Hodgson Initiate (135) Nov 17, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    I'll check on the next ones I buy (Toronto) and report here, I thought I saw a "2016" on one of them, hence the thought about 18 months, but maybe that was wrong. In a sense I get what Maytag meant because, as I infer, he is putting reliance on pasteurization. However, I am against pasteurization. SN, amongst many others, has shown it is possible to package beer in exemplary condition which only has a light veil if poured "all in". I understand they centrifuge and reseed and only a little cloud is raised in the process. Surely Anchor could do something similar and the beer would be better than when pasteurized and probably last as long. In fact, I have never had a SNPA that was sour or noticeably off whether under the present way they bottle or the original way when, IIRC, the beer went into the bottle from primary with its original yeast. That is a personal view, however I recognize some brewers may disagree.
  33. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,488) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Just got a fresh sixer...still holds up really well! Just a classic, tasty beer.
  34. Italy-BeerCountry

    Italy-BeerCountry Initiate (54) Aug 4, 2014 Colorado

    I first drank Anchor Liberty in the 80's and though I had other craft beers around that time (Sierra Pale/Stout/Porter and Bell's, among others) I distinctly remember how hoppy Liberty was.

    Had one recently and it was as I remembered.
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  35. Fluffheady

    Fluffheady Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2013 Illinois

    Cheers to Anchor! They make amazing delicious beer!
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