Monday, March 25, 2013

California Steaming

It’s Better Than Cleveland!

Anchor Steam Beer

Beer Reviewed: Anchor Steam

Style: Steam Beer


This beer is another in a long line of beers that I tried when I was younger, didn’t particularly enjoy, and haven’t tried it since. If you’re a follower of this blog, you know that I’m describing my history with various beers in an effort to drive home a very simple point: If you haven’t tried a beer in a couple years, give it another opportunity to impress you and you may be surprised.

The motivation for my interest in retrying Anchor Steam came from a bit of reading I did recently about Steam beer. It’s a historic beer associated with San Francisco from more than a century ago. The beer was brewed with lager yeast, but at warmer ale temperatures. Apparently this recipe brewed a crappy, low quality, cheap beer.

I find this interesting, because in the same Wiki page, they make a point of claiming that although Anchor Brewing trademarked the name Anchor Steam Beer in 1981, the beer does not follow the same brewing process than the one from a century ago.

So, why use the name of something crappy if you aren’t going to make a go of the namesake. I’m happy they didn’t follow the recipe, because I recently tried this beer again out at my local public house, and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I ran out and got a couple of sixes for home use and I continued to find great enjoyment of this inaccurately named Steam Beer.

Let’s watch a happy video:

The Beer

Beer characteristics

Quantitative parameters of beer character

  1. The bitterness of this beer is best measured using The Hitchens Taste Scale, and I would put this at about a +1. Nothing major, but you can tell it’s there.
  2. This beer has a 4.9% alcohol by volume. A good level for a warm weather summertime drink, and something that can cut through that nasty San Francisco fog. At least in my imagination.
  3. The color is a reddish amber that I would put at about a 17 on the SRM scale.

Qualitative parameters of beer character

  1. The aroma is slightly fruity, citrus with a malty goodness. Not a strong flavor, but a brightness that foreshadows a pleasant evening.
  2. The flavor is a balance of fruit, malt and hops. I nice balance of all the flavors, with nothing dominant.
  3. The aftertaste is a short-lived hoppy bitterness that isn’t strong, but arcs through the range of flavors.
  4. The mouthfeel is odd, due to the carbonation (see below). There is flavor, but no tingley bubbles.
  5. The carbonation is surprisingly light. There wasn’t much of a head, what was there exited quickly, and there seem to be no bubbles in the glass. I think this is the first one I’ve enjoyed that had very little carbonation. Interesting.
  6. The temperature should be cold. I like the contrast of the ’Steam’ name with a cold brew.


To recapitulate, don’t let distant history with a beer dissuade you from giving it another try. I tried this Anchor Steam Beer and I’m very happy I did. I moved this closer to the top of my list of beers to enjoy without thinking too hard, and I believe you’ll like it as well. Go get some!

- Enthusiast

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