In this second edition of Fighting Flagships, I’m taking on three craft beer heroes, the same as last time. If you don’t remember anything about this ongoing feature, that link should explain things. If you can’t be bothered to click it — and, let’s face it, I’m grateful for any small amount of clicks my little blog can get — Fighting Flagships is an article where I take three randomly selected flagship craft beers and pit them against each other to see who wins. The winner gets a … uh … a Golden Godzilla! Yeah. Click here if you’re new here and wondering what in the hell Godzilla has to do with beer.
Anchor Steam Beer | Anchor Brewing Company
Anchor Steam is an American craft beer classic, and Fritz Maytag, the former owner, is one of the fathers of modern microbreweries. After he purchased the failing Anchor Brewing Company in 1965, and began bottling Anchor Steam, the quintessential California Common beer, many other brewers followed his lead, opening breweries of their own. Anchor Steam was one of the beers that jump-started American craft brewing. Here’s hoping the new owners, The Griffin Group, don’t screw up that legacy.
I pop the bottle open. This isn’t my first Anchor Steam, nor my last. As it pours, this beautiful amber lager creates a creamy head that exhales subtle, flowery aromas. Crisp carbonation complements the raw, complex flavors, which include sweet (fruit and caramel); earthy, toasted malt; and subtle licorice. Dry grain and hops on the finish.
When people hear the word “lager,” this isn’t what they expect. A raw, flavorful beer with distinct personality – great for any kind of drinking, session or otherwise. Grab a bottle if you see one.
Ellie’s Brown Ale | Avery
Great, now I have to like this. After visiting Avery’s website and reading about how this beer is dedicated to Adam Avery’s dead lab, Ellie, I’ll seem like a total jerk if I criticize it. I can hear it now:
Me: “This beer is mediocre.”
Reader: “So you get your kicks insulting dead puppies, you monster?”
Might as well pour myself a glass – the beer is brown with a decent head – and take a whiff. A little woodsy oakiness. Sharp, bitter – but nice. A commendable start. I take a sip. Similar oakiness; lots of earthy flavors; and something else. Subdued hints of … tuna? Weird. Not awful. Just … odd. Kinda makes me want a tuna sub. I don’t really know what to say about this one. I didn’t hate it – I might even try it again some time. But I’ll make sure to have some albacore handy for pairing.
60 Minute IPA | Dogfish Head
Another old favorite. Its big brother, the 90 Minute IPA, ushered me through the gate into the majestic world of India Pale Ales. It pours reddish gold, like lustrous amber resting below a cloud of billowy white foam. Sultry lace slinks up the glass as I drink.
Subtle nose for an IPA. Floral, citric hops, and some bready malt, too. On the first sip, this beer walks up and assaults your tongue. First hit: sharp, estery herbs and citrus; intense flavors of fresh hop oils. Second: Toasted malt counterbalances the hops and softens things up a bit. Third: Illusive alcohol warmth, which is especially noticeable alongside the dry hop bitterness on the finish.
Overall, an incredibly tasty beer. Nice flavor and drinkability for an IPA. I think I still prefer the 90 Minute, which has livelier flavors and a higher ABV to back them up, but the 60 Minute IPA is clearly a better session beer and will cost you fewer dollars per bottle.
And the Golden Godzilla goes to …
Monday: I address the mystery of my banner’s bird-key cap (which I’m sure only I have noticed and been baffled by — odd, seeing as I am the owner of said cap).