Anchor California Lager

After The Gold Rush

I’m always on the lookout for a really good blonde lager. I have had very few, most IMO do not reach the heights the style is capable of. In Europe, there is Pilsner Urquell, still probably the best. I like the Bernard beers as well from Czech Republic.

I now include in their class Bohemian Rhapsody, a beer from Westerham Brewery in Kent, England I discovered in France.

Few lagers I’ve had anywhere can approach those mentioned, but of course I’ve had only a comparative few, so must hold judgment until I taste the rest. 🙂

In Ontario, my favourites are Side Launch Mountain Lager and Ace Hill Pilsener. As for any crafted beer, some variation is noted glass to glass, but in general those are the best in Ontario currently, IMO.

Outside Ontario in North America, the acme is probably Anchor Brewery’s lager pictured. It commemorates California’s first lager brewery, a tiny, short-lived operation called Boca in the north of the state. The beer uses 100% 2-row California barley and all-Cluster hops, the classic West Coast variety before the modern C-hop, etc. era.

The beer just arrived in Ontario and judging by the best-by date – March, 2019 – is very fresh, probably three months old. It has a creamy/milky taste hard to describe, but I recall it in Tuborg and Michelob from the 1970s. It is kind of a cross of those, which is high praise.

It bears some similarities to Side Launch lager as well, or rather I consider all these as exemplary of a certain, non-Pilsen, non-Bavarian type beer. (Ace Hill’s is more in the Bavarian vein IMO).

The California Lager may well deliver a taste similar to the best lager on the West Coast at the end of the 1800s, a period when steam beer was starting to decline and lager taking its place.

I tasted it half-warm and I’ll be darned if I don’t taste a tinge of the pasteurization. It’s a slight roast caramel or perhaps day-old bread taste. It probably isn’t noticeable at full chilling, and doesn’t bother me, but is a reminder that we perhaps pay a price for a delicate lager of high quality to be shipped and enjoyed so far. Ideally, it would be unpasteurized but when expected to last two years, evidently the treatment is necessary to ensure palatability.

The Anchor has no green flavours, no DMS in particular, a taste I don’t like. Anchor Steam Beer seems clearly to have a touch of it, not surprising given it is a type of lager not aged very long and krausened with yet newer beer.

But the brother lager skips the taste somehow, to its credit.

We get very few Anchor line extensions here. After years of Steam Beer and Liberty Ale, it’s good to see something different from Anchor, which brews an impressive line today. Bring more.