In San Francisco, Anchor Brewing has been a leader of the west-coast craft beer industry since the 1800s, beginning with their inaugural Anchor Steam Lager — one of my personal favourite lagers. The Liberty Ale, brewed for mere decades has become their second most reputable beer: a medium-well hopped, yet refreshingly light ale.
First off, I love the designs on all the Anchor beers. The image on the 2011 Christmas Ale? Incredible! What a detailed and well drawn tree. I hate to say it, but an attractive bottle can always get a sale out of me. Fortunately for Anchor, their beer is good enough to justify the spectacular bottle designs, high-costs, and quality reputation.
While the Anchor Steam Lager — a crisp, well-hopped lager, may be my favourite lager — period, I think I prefer the Liberty Ale — I’m just not much of a lager boy. The Liberty Ale is slightly darker, dry-hopped, and opens with a delicate plethora of floral hops. The aroma is profoundly hoppy, despite the lack of IBUs; this is due to the combination of steam brewing and dry-hopping. On the palate, the hops — citrusy and floral, think (non-sour) grapefruit and juniper — give plenty of flavour, while not bogging it down with overuse.
The body is light and refreshing; it is quite well balanced. This lends itself to a crisp, slightly bitter finish. Regarding our previously reviewed beers, the Liberty Ale stands up to Phillips Blue Buck and Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale as one of the better session ales around.
Kamran: 88.5 pts.
While I’ve made it known I am not inclined to consume particularly hoppy beers, the Liberty Ale is certainly something I’d recommend to people who appreciate hops and the balance of floral and bitterness that accompanies it. Less subtle in hops than the Coney Island Lager by Schmaltz Brewing or Russell Brewing’s Blood Alley, this ale is much closer on the scale to an IPA than most typical ales I’ve drank. It is however a solid beer in it’s own regard and one that I’d happily split a six-pack of with a friend for a BBQ party.
For me the nose is the best part of hoppy beers. The floral aroma is always so inviting, and Anchor certainly know how to maximize on that! While it is certainly crisp and refreshing, I wouldn’t say it is a light beer, as there is a certain thickness to it. By no means is it near a stout or porter level of thickness, but it is far from being light as a lager or pilsner. With a mild hop taste and non-sweet fruity tones, this beer plays on the palate quite nicely. As a side-note, I thought I detected some trace amount of spice to the taste. The finish certainly has that floral hops taste to it that lingers the longest, with cameo appearances of fruit and some bitterness.
This was a good beer; not the best I’ve had, but one I’d try again. However, I’d probably try other beers produced by Anchor before returning to the Liberty Ale just so I can better reference it to the other available brews. I agree with Kamran’s assesment that Anchor, based on this beer alone in my experience, would fair nicely when compared to the likes of Phillip’s Blue Buck or Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale.
Tristan: 75 pts.
Final Average: 81.75 pts.