There’s a good chance that if you frequent any well-stocked beer-having place, then you’ve seen the familiar banner of the Anchor Brewing Co. With 150 years of brewing history dating back to the California gold rush, it would be hard not to. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling a few of their beers, but one really caught my tongue when I tried it. I’m referring to the beer named after the founder, Gottlieb Brekle: Brekle’s Brown Ale. It is, according to the Anchor Brewing’s website, a classically styled little number using roasted 2-row pale, caramel, and munich malts. To balance and compliment this, they use citra hops. Personally, this is one of my favorite hop varieties. It’s good to see the pleasing characteristics of citra used in this way, rather than muddled with a gang of heavy, in-your-face hops. Either way, there is a bit of an old school ‘no frills’ style to this beer that I’m exited to try.
That very no frills style is something I really enjoy aesthetically about this brewery. As much as we would like to be able to objectively enjoy our beers without being colored by various marketing campaigns, anyone can admit that craft beer in general has some very cool aesthetics. Labels and logos are usually done by local or even in-house artists, are usually very clever or unique, and they serve the purpose of letting you know that brewery’s culture. Some, like Clown Shoes for example, are very quirky and can have fun with naming and designing their beers. On the other side of the spectrum, Anchor has kept their historic, anachronistic vibe without it becoming a very gimmicky, ”Tally-ho, good chaps!”, handlebar mustache kind of thing. By the way, I’ll thank our readers to not remind me that I -on occasion- will sport my mustache waxed and curled in a completely non-ironic fashion.
Brekle’s Brown Ale pours an almost reddish brown, nice and clear. Pour slowly, because it can whip up quite a head. The head subsides quickly, leaving only a very light ring of slow carbonation. The aroma it gives off it like fresh, floury biscuits. This is one of my favorite scents for a beer, it’s just so danged appetizing. You can also get some very nutty notes from the malts, but not really much of the hops. Maybe more in the taste? Let’s find out together, friends.
So, immediately I am hit with this amazingly rich malty goodness. The nutty notes from the sent come out in full force in the flavor. You get a definite herbal quality from the hops, and sure as sugar they balance out the malt blend perfectly. Something that I noticed was really enjoyable was how by roasting these lighter side malts creates a better balanced flavor than when people roast something like a chocolate malt. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good porter or stout with plenty of dark malt, but for a brown ale, this is the way to go. After a few tastes, I begin to get little after-tastes of a light citrus, like a grapefruit. Also just a bit of a dark fruit, but overall the malt/hop balance remained. A very consistent beer.
Anchor Brewing Co. comes through in a predictable fashion. What you see is what you get, and you always get a well-crafted beer. One of these days, I’m going to build my own 12-pack of their 10 varieties, and get two of the Brekle’s Brown.