Beer: Liberty Ale
Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company (San Francisco)
Type: pale ale
Another day, another birthday brew. I've had Liberty Ale several months back, but it's always sound beer-tasting policy to revisit your old favorites. This particular offering is one of the more influential beers in American brewing history, and it also happens to be pretty damned good. First bottled in April of 1975, and in honor of the bicentennial of Paul Revere's midnight ride, Liberty Ale introduced many Americans to the Californian brewing tradition: bold, well-hopped, and just a little bit different. Like many a West Coast brew, Liberty Ale makes use of the Oregon-grown Cascade hop variety, which gives brews a strong, citrussy, spicy aroma and flavour. The bottle is also unique, hearkening back to the harbor days of yore. It also smacks of America, with a resplendent bald eagle perched atop a sheath of hops and barley. Soldier on, Mr. Eagle. Soldier on.
Liberty Ale sits on the lighter end of the pale ale colour spectrum, deep golden and with a slight opaque character. Produces a generous 1 inch head and lots of sticky lacing.
The nose is particularly nice. The hops are readily apparent; citrussy and juicy. The malt character to the brew is also found here, as the nose has a bit of bread, or biscuit to it.
Nice juicy hops dominate the palate with the malts rounding out the edges. Each works well with the other to produce a very balanced flavour, perfect for sipping. The finish is bitter, slightly peppery, with lime and grapefruit notes. Crisp and refreshing.
The mouthfeel is on the thinner side for the pale ale, but the carbonation level is right one the money, providing strong bursts of citrussy goodness. Very easy to drink.
The well-hopped nature of this brew almost puts it into the IPA character for me, but as I've been noticing recently, brewing styles are particularly difficult to nail down. Sometimes pale ales taste like IPAs, sometimes porters taste like brown ales. The rules aren't set in stone, so I just find it's easier just to go with whatever the brewery/the experts go with. Who am I to disagree? In either case, Liberty Ale is an exceptional brew; lively and interesting, and well worth the price. I only wish more California brews would head out this way; I'm still gunning for my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Russian River Imperial Stout! In the meantime, Anchor Liberty Ale will suffice - it's a terrific brew which I'll try to keep in regular circulation as best I can. (Grade: A)