77 / 100
750ml bottle gifted to me by my mate Aaron in Denver. Shared with Sam & Rich back in Sydney.
Pours an inky, staininng black, with a very rich yellow-brown ring of bubbles that just add to the richness. Body is oily. Carbonation is actually quite minimal, but very fine where it forms. Minimal lace too. Still, it looks a dark, intense beast.
Nose is potent. It goes beyond the standard toasty characters of a stout into oily, inky territory—almost a chemical darkness. As it warms, it releases other aromatics of marshmallow and rosewater, and maybe even a little oily lime. It's a weird combo.
Taste is decent, but to be honest, it has quite a lightness on the back that makes it feel like the palate drops away. It starts out pleasant, with lots of intense dark chocolate and smoky whiskey characters, developing into fragrant rosehips and berries. But towards the back, it's surprisingly light and dry—it doesn't allow the palate to really continue as long as I'd like it to.
Palate is soft but full, and then it develops that weakness on the back.
Overall, though, I like this—it's a fine imperial stout, but every imperial stout probably has the potential to be the best beer I've ever tried, and this falls certainly far from that. But still, I appreciate the complexity and the interplay of the various dark characters. It makes it really rather fine.
Black raspberry saison, apparently. Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a vivid dark purple colour. It looks somewhere between reduced Ribena and young shiraz. Yeah is a light, but still vivid purple that persists as a staining ring around the glass. Body is fairly light, although there's depth and opacity to the colour. Carbonation is fine and swift. I mean it sure has a Look, I'll give it that.
Nose is decent enough, but to some extent it's not really that exciting. There's pronounced raspberries on the front, maybe with a slight blackcurrant tartness in there as well. But it also has a bready note underneath—with the acidity it gives a slight suggestion of sourdough. It has a slight leafiness underneath all of this as well. It's okay, but not one of the most interesting aromas I've had from Anchorage.
Taste is maybe a bit better, with more of a direct, sharp acid to keep things on track. More of those slight sourdough characters around the back of the palate, and the fruit all but evanesces into aroma. It's surprisingly thin, without a huge amount of complexity, and almost no body to sustain it beyond the leap to that acid.
It's a decent beer, and a decent idea (and seriously, that's the only beer I've ever had that looks quite like that), but I think the execution is slightly lacking. It just ends up feeling dull, and a bretted black raspberry saison should be anything but that.
47 / 100
Pours a dark purple, yeah, with pale purple/pink head of foam. Lacing and cascade are quite lovely, and look the colour's noticeable and interesting. I'm intrigued.
What the heck is that? Weird sweet but herbal and spicy nose, from the colour it makes me think of beetroot, it's mostly sweet but with a weird earthy note to it too. A little bit too sweet too, like there isn't enough edge or cut through, just that fruit juicy/vegetative aroma and little else. Medicinal.
Tastes yeah, it's weird. Not vegetative but lots of a very sweet blackcurranty character that then gets a weird mishmash of sourness, spice and a minty freshness. Plenty of medicinal and menthol character on the front that continues towards the back. The finish is kinda nonexistent too, like there's a faint fadeout of some tartness but then a mild earthy sweetness with little to continue or make it moreish. It's both weird and unimpressive, and I don't like it.
Mouthfeel is quite full, even a little heavy. Works well for the style though and carries it off. No issue with the texture.
Yeah it feels like a weird experiment with some ingredient, but the beer behind it hasn't got much oomph to it so it ends up quite empty and just directionless. The texture also indicates a quality brewer at work (I reviewed this blind so didn't know it was from one of my favourite breweries) who's made a good beer where the flavour just doesn't work. I'd allow Anchorage a hundred missteps just for making the Love Buzz saison, but the fact that this comes from the same place doesn't ameliorate it.
71 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam and Loz during a brewday.
Pours a very pale, lemon-gold yellow colour, with a frothy, large head of white that persists as some gauzy lace. Body is light and fresh, with some fine carbonation. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is really rather nice. Sharp, fresh hops lend a herbal edge to an otherwise lemony aroma. It feels a bit dusky, and it doesn't have a huge amount of complexity. But it's bright and pleasant.
Taste is also decent, but it leans very heavily on the earthiness, which accentuates more of the bitter herbal character from the hops. There's some suggestion of salt lemon around the edges, but the fruit is definitely a secondary character on the palate. Carbonation is also high, which promotes some of the bitterness.
Overall, I like it enough, and I'm certainly happy to drink it, but I don't think it's one of my favourite outings from Anchorage. That's a bit of a shame, because I count myself quite a fan of Nelson Sauvin, and I feel like they could have done something quite special with it.
Pale yellow colour, almost green tinged. Head is white, nice and foamy, some trails of lace. Cloudy body. Looks like a fairly typical wild ale; cloudy with decent but unspectacular head.
Smells funky rather than tart. Decent sweetness underneath it, with some candy character. Good fruit character I guess with melon, orange peel and passionfruit maybe some mango. Good earthy, slightly grassy funk as well. Yeah honestly I like it more the more I smell it. Good complexity without being over the top and in my face.
Tastes a bit disappointing. Some melon sure, but mostly just funky earthy character that's quite phenolic, so the sweetness that matches it gets quite medicinal with an overly strong melon character that's quite rich and kinda cloying by the back of it. Kind of a coriander spice note too that's more earthy and less piquant than I'd like; ultimately a touch flat. Just needs more freshness.
Mouthfeel is a little fizzy really, maybe a touch light on the body. Doesn't do a whole lot for me really.
Drinks alright but just has this heavy and sticky kind of medicinal character that is just a bit too weighty while the rest of it around the edges has a good spice and funk interplay.
Bottle shared with me by Jez at Mother's.
Pale gold colour, slight greenish tinge. Head is white, foamy with a decent crown retaining. Nice lace, steady bead. Hazy and foggy: looks pretty nice.
Smells fruity. Big melon with some sweet citrus, touch of lychee. Sweet mostly, but tangy too. Strawberry? And mildly biscuity. Pleasant; maybe insubstantial.
Taste has a big melon character, sweet and rich. Candyesque with big rich sweetness mostly. Kind of tastes like the centre of a gobstopper. Orange peel too, with soft sweetness and a touch of bitterness. The fruitiness is dominant, not really tart but zesting up the earthy malt as well so any richness or sweetness still becomes fruity. Melon, slight berry and citrus. Decent for sure, quite nice actually.
Mouthfeel is a little prickly, tart, but some decent body underneath. Not too bad.
Drinks pretty well but maybe a touch rich for what it is.
Brett IPA, purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a very pale almost lemon yellow colour, with some haze. Head forms a frothy white cap, and persists as a pleasant film. Carbonation is fairly fine, with swift moving but minimal bubbles. Light body, especially for the ABV. Looks decent.
Nose is driven by the brett, with a dusky, earthy funk the dominant character. But in some ways it also accentuates the hops—giving a slight fruitiness and a sharpness that comes across like an English hop note—even though I know it's not. It's pleasant.
Taste is a little more two-tone. There's an earthy brett character underneath everything, with a bone-dry body. And over the top is a specific bitterness that gives a weird bite. There's so little body underneath that it feels a bit raw and exposed. Bitterness builds on the back, with a slight fruitiness the balance it.
Feel is very dry, with a sharpness from the late-palate hops.
Overall, it's very solid, but it might be one of the less impressive beers I've had from Anchorage. It's a decent beer though, that just happens to come from an overachieving stable.
74 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez, sometime in history.
Pours a pale orangey colour, fades to a clear gold at the edges. Head is white, foamy bubbles. Nice trails of lacing on the glass and a slight haze to it. Head is curiously clumpy but otherwise kinda dull.
Smells funky. Big phenolic, band-aid kind of smell, but augmented with some tangy fruit - persimmon with peppery piquancy as well, and maybe a hint of tropical character. Funky but tangy; quite intriguing.
Taste is a bit milder than expected. Definitely funky but doesn't have that big spice character, though all the flavours are there. Starts tangy, with some citrus notes before some funky phenolic character comes in, barnyardy and mediciney. Some peppery spice late-mid, and then finish is mildly citric with some berry character as well, and mild phenolic bitterness. Pleasant and somewhat drinkable too, but the nose gave just a more intriguing and idiosyncratic character than the palate delivers.
Tingly and even sizzly on the front, then gets more solid and substantial late so it goes down better than it starts.
Drinks a little tough, it's quite phenolic midway and finishes that way too, so it's not particularly downable, could just use a bit more lightness.
61 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a slightly dirty golden colour, perhaps with a slight pink character when held to the light. Head is very coarse, forming a well-fed ring of off-white that persists due to the effervescence. Body is quite light. Looks decent enough.
Nose is slightly savoury. There's a semi-sweet, semi-tart character that gives a note like ketchup. But it has an earthiness from the barrels which makes it seem a bit richer and more complex. There's also perhaps a floral sharpness from the hibiscus. It's entirely possible I'm imagining it though.
Taste is also only so good. It's extremely carbonated, which gives both a carbonic acidity and a really frothy feel to it. The hibiscus gives a rather organic character on the back, with a slight candy sweetness to it. Finish is earthy. Decent enough.
Yeah, it's not bad. But honestly, this is almost certainly the least good beer I've ever had from Anchorage. This doesn't have the complexity. It doesn't have the confluence of flavours, and it doesn't have the balance. It's a shame.
79 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour, light bead. Head is very generous: foamy, off-white. Retaining a lovely thick foam on top. Sparse trails of lace. Looks good.
Smells funky, organic, but fruity and sweet. Passionfruit, mango and guava on there with some barnyard and wet hay hints. Lightly tart in a bretty kind of way, and fresh, with an odd caramel note that's only odd because of how well it integrates. Really lovely.
Taste is very heavy on the passionfruit - wow, it's all over that. Tangy passionfruit seeds, with some bitter bite and then blooming with other stonefruit on the back - peach, mango as well. Touch of funky bitterness midway that lingers a little and tastes a little rank, but not unpleasant, and nicely cleaned up by that hoppy tang. Fruity, just slightly barnyardy. Very pleasant.
Slight carb sizzle. Feels a bit thin actually, as it really rakes across the tongue.
Pleasant, fruity, tangy drop. Really light and summery but with enough weirdness to remind you of who's boss, despite its affability.
88 / 100
750ml brown caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a beautifully bright and clear golden yellow colour, with a crackling, coarse head of white that settles out to a messy film, leaving some lace in its wake. Body is quite light, but holds fine, slow carbonation when tilted. Looks great.
Nose is exceptional. It's a genuinely gorgeous marriage of hops, funk and oak. It has big bold fruity characters that mesh beautifully with hints of tartness, and smoothed out be a really well integrated wood note. There's lemon peel, orange pith, and deeper sweeter notes of mango and red papaya. Gosh, it's really very good indeed. I could smell this all day without even feeling the need to take a sip.
Taste is also good, but in a very different way—and one which I didn't expect. It actually starts out extremely dry and almost empty. But this is its charm: it's laying down a clean, blank canvas that then allows subtle complexities to come out and play. More sweet citrus notes, tropical fruits dance out in aromatic swirls, while the back has a bit of wood and some dusky, organic notes from the brett. And all of this happens with a crisp, light feel that makes it very drinkable. It's very clever indeed.
Amazingly drinkable, and subtly complex. There is so much to love here. You can love it for its complexity. You can love it for its oakwork and wildness. But most of all you can love it because it's just damn drinkable. All of those things put together make for a truly remarkable beer.
75 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour with mocha-coloured head. Small, whispy but leaving decent lace. Looks pretty good.
Hugely Bretty and tart. Nice, deep roast on there with strong balsamic notes, a touch of washed-rind cheese and figs. Slightly intimidating, but very intriguing.
Taste is funky and tart as well. Touch of spicy espresso upfront first though, before funky notes take over midway. Distinct balsamic note, some bitter chocolate, notes of fresh figs, wood smoke and grains of paradise on the back. Finishes dry, and could use a bit more edge. Very intriguing palate though.
Decent body, texture feels nice, but doesn't quite have the bold presence demanded by the bold flavours. Some more body or more carbonation would do different things, but either one would make it seem less meek than it is now.
Quite a bizarre drop, but well-handled, with the off, funky notes and dark bitter notes clashing in a battle for flavour supremacy. Neither wins in the end, but what does win is enjoyment.
71 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney.
Pours a deep, oily black, with a loose but frothy head of pale brown. Pretty light and fluid in the body, and carbonation that swirls wildly when tilted. Minimal lacing. It looks a bit weird to be honesT: very light bodied for the depth of colour. Interesting at least.
Nose is very tart, and marked with a prominent oak character, much like a good Flanders Red. Unlike a Flanders Red, however, there's also a dense darkness to it, giving roast and coffee notes that permeate the more acidic cherry aromas. Some coconut comes through as well. It's really quite complex, but a little anarchic at the same time. I like it.
Taste is similar: plenty of tart flavours bouncing around, but at its core is a strong dark malt presence, making it seem more like a stout than a wild ale. Indeed, the main contribution of the bugs seems to be to rip away all the sweetness and body, making it feel very narrow on the palate. Cherry aromas still stick around, and there's a sheen to the malt that gives off some oak. Extremely unusual: I'm not quite sure what to make of it.
Feel is dense through the centre: but there's actually not much true acidity, nor body to support a lot of the flavours. It works in a weird way, but again it's a strange choice.
Overall, this is still pretty good, with an oddly directed inoculation of brett and bugs. I certainly don't think it's one of Anchorage's best, but that's a pretty high bar.
71 / 100
Pours a slightly pale golden colour, mild haze but mostly clear. White, dense head, nice marshmallowy lace. Looks nice.
Smells Bretty. Funky and wild, with some barnyard mixing with citrus tang and an odd peanutty kind of aroma. A little bit too rich/sweet actually, but with some nice notes.
Taste starts with more nutty malt, then gets that organic funky flavour, not quite tart but just nice and organic-tasting yeasts. A hint of soil and grass and a slight mould flavour, in a good way. Spice on the back as well. Could use more acidity to freshen it up and cut through as it's still a little on the rich/sweet side for me.
A bit bitey, but a good bit of substance on the feel. Quite puckering towards the back, however.
Pleasant, but not quite as well harnessed as others in the same ballpark sort of 'genre' that I've tried.
81 / 100
Bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. In fact, this is now available in Sydney, but I'm pleased to have carted it back to Australia myself. Shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a mild, slightly hazed golden colour, with a magnificent crown of pure white, shiny froth. Lacing is spectacularly intricate. Body is solid, but pleasingly fluid. Carbonation strikes out with vigour through the body, but it's surprisingly fine throughout. Overall, good looking beer.
Nose is obviously bretty, as are all Anchorage's brews, but here there's a more rounded, slightly fruity straight Belgian yeast note to it. This melds with a surprising but pleasant earthy grain character that lends a touch of savoury to the brew. Almost has a hint of smoky barbeque to it in a strangely oblique way. Overall, very nice stuff indeed.
Taste is lighter, but with a direct, slightly biting fruit to it, almost like a capsicum sweetness. Plenty of smooth oak here on the palate, definitely giving some chardonnay characteristics. There's a bit of astringency on the back, partially from acidity and partially just from the straight Belgian yeast strain (which I assume was used in concert). It's very nice stuff. Feel is particularly good. Smooth, but unobtrusive. Great stuff.
Yup, another masterful addition from Anchorage to their already masterful range. The chardonnay I thought was subtle, but it turns out to be the defining factor of this beer the more you drink. It's a very interesting result.
77 / 100
Bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. I also tried this on-tap at Belmont Station in Portland, but decided to forego reviewing it so I could do so when I shared this bottle with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a pure lemon golden colour with a pure white head that crackles down to a film, leaving impressive rings of lace as it goes. Body is pleasantly light and fresh. There's some hazing to the body, as you'd expect. It looks solid and well-made. Impressive stuff.
Nose is green, pungent and organic, with the brett characters taking up a role in subjugating the true hoppiness behind this more vegetative, earthy whole. That being said, there are real hop characters noticeable, giving some lemon tree leaf and kaffir lime. The funkiness adds a level of solidity and almost robust meatiness to the brew. It's fascinating stuff.
Slightly less impressive overall on the palate: thinner and less complex, but still bearing the characteristic Anchorage flavours. Brusque organic funkiness with a mild, regulated acidity, this time backed with a crisp, light body and some tingling green hop characters. Some bitterness on the backâwith the brett making itself felt it almost ends up yeast and earthy.
Feel is its main drawback as far as I'm concerned. It's very thin, and leaves the bitterness (which let's face it, is not particularly strong) to rule the aftertaste, without even putting up a fight.
Still, this is a really good brew: refreshing, solid and very, very enjoyable. Other Anchorage beers might be better, but this really nicely fits into the range. Great stuff.
100 / 100
Pours a bright orange colour, hint of amber, lots of cloud. Head is jaundiced beige, nice and effervescent but pleasant uneven sinkage. Lace left is pretty damn fine. Looks... well, Gilbert? What do you think? Does it look perfect? No? Are you kidding me? Well, screw you Gilbert, you don't exist. I say it looks perfect.
Smell is funky and wonderful. So much lively, lovely funk smell that just speaks volumes of story to me. Notes of barnyard with lemon pith, livestock and fresh-cut grass, but an acidic note with citrus that cuts through, followed by a sweet-spicy note of cinnamon, vanilla, orange peel, and some cake batter malt. What do you think, Gilbert? What? You think it's a 3, tops? Well, you're wrong again. Not only are you wrong, but you don't exist and you slept with my wife, you prick.
Taste starts very sweet. Maybe a bit too sweet? Lots of malt to that with plenty of caramel and a big hit of vanilla. The wild yeast creeps up though, cleansing it, with some mild hints of lemon, passionfruit and guava, all with a nice vinegary edge that remains drinkable. Slightly savoury at the back, maybe biscuity? It's clean at the back, which is great, although the fruit notes are more subdued here. Still, crisp but with all the lovely flavours I want in a beer. Sweet, touch of tartness late-mid, then clean but plenty of flavour left over. Gilbert? Is this the best beer I've ever drunk? No, you're wrong. The clean finish is something I didn't expect, and it becomes that 'je ne sais quoi' that raises this delicious beer yet another level. It's just immaculate.
It's sharp on the front but then somehow levels out to a smooth texture. It has the effect of nudging you so you know you're drinking something with a power that's out of this world, but it doesn't overwhelm your mortal palate. Ideal.
This beer almost made me cry, it was that good. After 1200+ reviews this has become the beer I want to settle down with in the country and somehow engineer a mutant beer-human hybrid family with. Despite Gilbert yapping away in my ear about gastronomic subjugation or some shit, I can't give it anything besides a perfect score.
94 / 100
(Best of the Best)
The last of Anchorage's readily available brews for me to sample. I love their others to bits, and I have monumentally high expectations for this one.
Uncorks pleasantly, with a bright "thok" but without the resultant gush. Pours a bright orange hazed colour, witb a full and fine head of off-white, that eventually succumbs to froth and its own effervescent, and collapses, leaving a smudge of thick, chunky lace on the side of the glass. Looks really great.
Nose is just... oh, it's phenomenal. Here, the brett has free reign to take over and stamp itself over everything. It leaves funky acidity like appleskin, fragrant floral characters and a musty, but leavened and sophisticated character like an aged wine barrel. There's even the faint hint of that Cantillon-like plastic gueuze funk. It's an amazing nose, all the more for how restrained and integrated it is. Lovely stuff.
Taste is perfectly light and fragrant, while remaining amazingly clear and refreshing, and true to the roots of the style. Some mild peppery characters on the front get quickly whisked away, leaving a refreshing clarity for the middle. A really pleasant floral fragrance picks up towards the back, and manages to mask some of the phenolic harshness associated with the styleâin fact, it feels like this never really comes throughâthere's only a peal of metal resonating on the finish.
Feel is lovelyâI mean, just perfect for the styleâsmooth, liquid, with a perfect weight for the characters it presents. It's just gorgeous.
What a phenomenally good beer. Genuinely one of the best saisons I've ever had. It's as though it *gets* the style to which it owes its genesis just perfectly, but layers complexity and depth and excitment on that its original wouldn't have thought of.
Despite this, it stays true to its rootsâit provides perhaps the new wave in saison awesomeness; the next generation of a phenomenal style.
77 / 100
Pours a pale amber colour, nice golden tinge up to the light. Very opaque though. Head is hugely generous off-white with sparse bubbling and clumps of lace left behind. Marshmallowy top. Looks very decent.
Smell is just lovely. Loads of brett going wild, sourness with cassia, orange peel and underripe berry notes. Sour, but nice sweetness adding balance - citrus, berries and a touch of oatmeal on the back. It's really, really nice.
Taste starts out kind of sour, citric really, but develops into strong fruity mid-palate that's actually quite sweet, with peach, apricot and raspberries. Brett comes through late, giving kind of off mouldy cheese kind of flavour that doesn't quite mesh as far as the aftertaste goes. It's nice overall, but the finish could be toned down a bit, as it's a little on the astringent side. Otherwise the flavours are nice, just seems a bit off-kilter late.
Not bad on the feel for the most part, but you can sense that pull from the wilder yeast at the back and it gets to the point of puckering.
Not an everyday drinking beer, really, but well worth a taste.
76 / 100
Pours a very pale straw colour with white head, sparse and dissipating to leave a thin crown behind. Lace is thick and lovely. Looks good.
Smells really lovely, great brett influence here but just a nice vanilla sweetness as well. Hints of sweet orange, passionfruit and lime. Lovely sour notes take over but never dominate with any astringency, it's mild and refreshing in character. This is the sort of smell that could get non-believers into sour beer.
Taste is lovely as well. Sour, but with a funky barnyard flavour to it. Sweet vanilla underlying it with a touch of caramel malt and then taken over midway with those slightly off sour flavours - brett gives barnyard, wet lucerne and a potato starch kind of flavour. Hint of orange and sponge cake and underripe berries. Bit weird for sure, but very refreshing.
Body is alright, gets quite sharp from the wild yeast at the back. A bit too dry maybe, some more body would prop it up.
Nice, challenging beer, but also refreshing. Lots to like in this.
84 / 100
Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, after trying their Whiteout Wit and deciding I needed to pick up every beer this brewery brews. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a very hazed orange-yellow colour, light, but dark, in that it retains all the light it collects. Head is a wondrously full crown of frothy white, like fairy floss, leaving intricately intense and insane lacing. It looks full, insane, intense and exciting.
Nose is bright with big hoppy characters, perhaps just underpinned with a fragrant funk of spicy acidity. The mainline is tropical fruits and citrus, giving fresh rubbed zest, slight bubblegum characters and a fruit sweetness. All this is balanced with a gorgeous funk, giving organics, acidity and barnyard aromas. It's an amazingly complex and gorgeously realised aroma. It is hard to imagine better.
Taste is light and dry, with a touch of acidity from the brett, but mostly realised with a dry body and sharp bitterness from the hops. Despite the crsipness on the finish, lingering tones of pineapple and other tropical fruits come through on the finish, lending a fragrant and exciting finale to the beer. Feel is very light, as brett tends to do, drying out almost to extremity.
Another exceptionally unique and very nice beer from Anchorage. They have a really good handle on beers to brew with funk and finesse. This is bitter and robust and fruity, but also dry, funky and sharp, giving a wonderfully cacophonic whole.
I love this brewery. I can't wait to see what they do next.