Teaching you a lot about beer

Date: September 16, 2011
Location: Josh’s house
Present: Josh Berezin, Mike Merrill



102/1000: Anchor Small from Anchor Brewing
JB: “Small.” I remember Anchor refers to this beer as coming out of some very old tradition, but no one else makes one now.
MM: They could call it anything they want, since they’re the only ones making it. “The tradition of brewing two distinct beers from one mash has existed for thousands of years.”
JB: Thousands!
MM: “And for centuries, the term ‘small beer’ was used to describe the lighter, and weaker second beer.”
JB: But we won’t tell you what it was called before that.
MM: The first beer that they make with the mash is the Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.
JB: So, something really strong.
MM: Yeah. “Anchor Small Beer is our attempt to duplicate the ‘small’ beers of old by sparging that same mash.” Do you want to know what sparging is?
JB: I’m not sure I do.
MM: I’m going to tell you anyway. “Sparging is sprinkling warm water over the warm mash after the first wort has run off.”
JB: Yeah, I didn’t want to know that.
MM: They’re teaching you a lot about beers in this very short description.
JB: Aren’t they America’s oldest microbrewer?
MM: Yeah, they make a bunch of spirits, too. Old Portero whiskey, I think? And they do a gin or a rum as well.
JB: Well, what do you think?
MM: For all of its wonderful descriptions, great bottle size and shape, it’s a pretty uninteresting beer.
JB: I disagree. I don’t find it uninteresting, but I don’t find it delicious.
MM: When I drink it, it barely even tastes like beer.
JB: But it has an aftertaste that really hangs around, and now that I know it’s from a barleywine base, I detect that. This isn’t one I’d buy again. I do like Anchor Steam quite a bit.
MM: I think it’s a good idea for them, since they have that first wort around, they might as well use it.
JB: They’re the original recyclers.
MM: But the concept is stronger than the beer.

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