Continuing to wind my way through the last few (and best) breweries from our vacation trip. The beer of the day is Anchor Steam, from Anchor Brewing. This beer has long been a favorite of mine, since I first started to realize the awesomeness of craft beer. I had this one on draft at the Eagle Cafe, a seafood restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf with a view of the sea lions on Pier 39. Nice spot for food, beer, and people watching (and sea lion watching) if you're in the neighborhood.
This beer has a dark amber hue with a creamy white head, and your nose picks up aromas of caramel malts. You get an impressive meal of bread, malt, light citrus, caramel, and a bit of hop bitterness on the finish. Very smooth, very easy drinking, very nice. Without a doubt, Anchor has earned a spot in my Top 25 list, and it will take some enormously amazing beers to knock Anchor off the list.
You may be wondering what's with the name, and I can help you with that. Steam refers to an old nickname for beer produced on the West Coast without the use of refrigeration. In order to cool the beer, it was pumped to shallow containers on the roof of the brewery. During this cooling process, steam would rise up from the warm containers as they cooled in the breeze. Anchor lawyered up in 1981 and trademarked the name, so now other beers brewed in this same style as Anchor Steam (warmer fermentation in shallow open air vessels) are called "California Common" rather than steam beers.
I desperately wanted to steal that glass. Next time. Anchor has a long tradition of brewing, as they trace their roots back to 1871 when a German settler bought a pool hall in San Francisco and started producing beer. The brewery was sold to another German brewer in 1896 and renamed Anchor. While it's changed owners and locations a number of times since then, they've carried the brand name forward. I've drank a few of their other options, such as the Small Beer, Bock, Humming Ale, and Liberty Ale. All great beers, but to me, the best of the bunch is still their flagship Steam beer.
Thing to Think About Today:
Anchors, boats, summer time.....boat drinks. But Boat Drinks, the song, not some fruity mai tai nonsense. Beer goes with boats, people. Trust me.