Friday, April 29, 2011

Anchor Porter (Anchor Brewing Company)

One of the aspects of Beer Club that I look forward to is responding to ideas from the other guys and fleshing out a dossier on a given brewery by sampling its various products over time. This week I answered Wade's Anchor Steam by pitching in Anchor Porter. Porter being one of my favorite styles, this is a beer I have enjoyed many times. Hoping to get some other opinions on it.

I issue the caveat that I have been sneezing from pollen dust all day, so my taste buds may not be properly calibrated. That's why I decided to review a beer that I've tasted before rather than to risk short-changing an unfamiliar one.

The pour into a pint glass produced four inches of billowy, persistent foam of a brownish cream color. This beer is a dark one -- black-brown, with reddish mahogany tinge around the edge. The aroma is musty, with a minty sweetness, and unmistakable alcohol undertones.

Upon sipping, I am first struck by the weighty, creamy mouthfeel, and this creaminess continues to impress throughout the pint. There is a sweet beginning, with butterscotch moving into dark chocolate, molasses, alcohol, and hint of smoked bacon. There is some bitterness, locked tightly together with the sweetness and the ethanol presence. As the considerable complexities sort out toward the finish, lying deep beneath the dark, sweet flavors is a roasted malted barley core.

Compared with great English porters like Samuel Smith's Famous Taddy Porter or St. Peter's Old Style Porter, Anchor Porter is quite different. It is not as easy to detect the "three threads" -- and particularly missing is the dank, musty component. It is overall sweeter, too, I think. In fact, at the moment its stout-like qualities strike me as much as its porter-like ones. (Then again, see caveat above.) Regardless, here is a quintessential American brewery's take on a quintessentially English beer style. So be it!

From the bottle's label:

San Francisco's famous Anchor Porter brand is made in one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world by the brewers of Anchor Steam Beer. Our old-fashioned porter is virtually hand-made, with an exceptional respect for the ancient art of brewing. We use 100% malted barley, generous amounts of fresh, whole hops, entirely natural carbonation, and a simple, natural brewing process which is like no other in the world. The deep black color, the thick creamy head and the intensely rich flavor of Anchor Porter, made in San Francisco since 1974, have earned this delicious and unique brew a worldwide reputation for outstanding quality. It is aesthetically pleasing and wholly superior in every respect.

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