When a name as iconic as Anchor debuts a new year-round beer, it’s an occasion worthy of notice. In fact, in this case such an occurrence is all the more rare if you consider that among core brands, only Anchor Small Beer was introduced as recently as 1997. Prior to that, you’d have to look as far back as 1975, when both Liberty Ale and Old Foghorn were introduced, to discover the most recent origins of other full-time brews currently in the fold.
So, what to make of this new offering that now takes its place alongside the legendary Anchor Steam and its stalwart brethren?
Brekle’s Brown Ale is in many ways a throwback, not only in that it finds inspiration in all-malt recipes from Anchor’s early days, but also for the man for which it is named. Gottlieb Brekle founded the brewery in 1871, eventually selling to fellow Germans Ernst F. Baruth and Otto Schinkel, Jr. who, for reasons unknown, changed the name to Anchor after taking over in 1896.
Despite such ties to the past, Brekle’s is a beer with a modern twist. Stylistically advertised as a single hop brown ale, it relies exclusively on the recently developed Citra hop variety. This dual-purpose hop is a cross-breed of a number of popular varieties, and is highly sought after for its distinctive blend of citrus and tropical fruit. Here, it comes together with the characteristic elements of the base style to create something quite different indeed.
The nose starts out sharply hoppy, being somewhat pine-like with an element of ripe citrus. These nuances quickly fade to reveal waves of caramel and toffee, along with an underlying nuttiness and a layer of light roast. It’s the infusion of mango and other tropicals, however, which gives this brew a flavor unlike that of any brown ale I’ve had in recent memory.
The question then is, does it work? For me, despite some initial misgivings, I grew to enjoy it for its uniqueness, finding it easy to drink with just the right amount of balancing bitterness. It does come across as a bit atypical, though, so for others it may be more of an acquired taste. With that in mind, perhaps the best advice is to seek it out simply for the chance to try something new and different from one of craft beer’s oldest and most respected names.
Brekle’s Brown Ale was originally a limited edition brew released in conjunction with the 2011 San Francisco Beer Week. Based on its positive reception, Anchor has brought it back as a year-round product now available in 6-packs of 12 oz bottles.
Look for it in Plano at S&K Beverages or either of the two area Kegs & Barrels locations. In Carrollton, check out Lone Star Beverages or their sister store Sam’s Beer & Wine.
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