Kegs & Legs Beers of the Week: Anchor Steam Beer & Liberty Ale by Anchor Brewing (San Francisco)

I love beer. After now having visited over 365 different breweries, it’s fair to say I have sampled a lot of beer (follow me on Untappd). From post-race pints and run club meeting locations, to beer miles and relays, running and the kegged nectar seem to go hand-in-hand in Oregon. Our Kegs and Legs feature is where beer drinking runners like me can go to find some new favorite beverages.

Check out previous posts here!

When I think about the United States craft beer landscape across the map, the Oregonian in me harkens to our local Widmer as sort of the trail blazer in this aspect. I now look around our state and feel that we have really moved forward with a bunch of great breweries to check out.

But realistically, there are much older breweries out there that really paved the way for beer creation and consumption. And while breweries are always being innovative, there are also some old beer recipes out there that are still being created and going strong (including some that are actually drinkable *coughbudweisercough*).

Enter Anchor Brewing, a brewery out of California, and one that put San Francisco on the map. You may have seen their stuff in tap houses and bottle shops, and I really like how “old school” the bottles look – simple, yet with a rustic flair and throwback to the times when Anchor was just getting started. In fact, here’s a little bit of the history of Anchor:

The rich history of Anchor Brewing can be traced all the way back to the California gold rush, when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived in San Francisco with his family.

Gottlieb Brekle bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon on Pacific Street near Russian Hill for $3,500, transforming it into the American brewery that, twenty-five years later, would be renamed Anchor.

German brewer Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the old brewery on Pacific (the first of six Anchor locations around the City over the years) and named it Anchor. No one knows why Baruth and Schinkel chose the name Anchor, except, perhaps, for its indirect but powerful allusion to the booming Port of San Francisco.

Anchor Steam, a “California Common”, is essentially the flagship beer of Anchor and was first brewed in 1896. The name “Steam” comes from a moniker that was given to beer brewed on the West Coast, when conditions were still of the “wild wild west” and there wasn’t the option of having ice available for the brewing. Instead of in ice, beer was fermented on the rooftops of the San Francisco brewery, where the fog would naturally cool the fermentation process and create steam rising off the building. Though the methods have been modernized, Anchor Steam is still created in much the same fashion.

It pours amber in color, and can have a nice head if you let it. I found this to be super unique in taste, not super complex, but like something I haven’t really experienced before. I found it have a caramel taste, yet some sweet undertones existed as well. It’s definitely worth a try – if not for the history alone.

Liberty Ale came around much later that Anchor Steam, but still holds up since its first batch in 1975. This beer (and namesake) cam about in celebrating 200 years of Paul Revere and his famed ride. This is a single hop and dry hopped American IPA, and is credited with being the first modern version of this style. If you fancy yourself an IPA-person, then you can probably pay homage to Liberty Ale and Anchor for showcasing the Cascade Hop and the possibilities of this style.

It’s creation is quite simple – made with only natural ingredients (pale malted barley, fresh whole-cone Cascade hops and a special top-fermenting yeast, and water) and is brewed with traditional craft brewing methods. It pours amber and has unique bubbles, due to a bunging, a natural carbonation process. Though it may have been the kickstart to the modern IPA, don’t go in expecting a piney hop bomb. It’s pretty tame by comparison to what we generally think of in an Indian Pale Ale, but it has a unique flavor that is pretty drinkable and I could easily see this being a gateway for those looking to get in the IPA-scene.

I am really feeling the need to take a San Francisco brewery swing, and Anchor is an obvious location to be a part of that (I would check out their taphouses and also consider taking a tour). They have a few different areas they can be found in the Bay Area (see below), but they are on tap and in bottles all along Oregon, the West Coast, and beyond.



About Matt Rasmussen (1636 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.
%d bloggers like this: