Monday, June 15, 2009

A big bottle of small beer in big glass

I tried Anchor's Old Foghorn on a blustery evening in Dublin a few months ago and declared it my kind of barley wine. I stand over this judgement, so it was with great anticipation that I tried Anchor's Small beer, made from the weak sparge from Old Foghorn's meaty mash. Further to this was a long held desire to try this beer stemming from the glossy picture filled beer books of Jackson and Protz fame that I pored over many years ago. I can't explain why these beers stuck in my mind but I was dead keen to try them and in some sad way never thought I would because things were decidedly grim in the Irish beer scene back then.

At a mere 3.2% abv it must surely be one of the weakest beers on the American market today, save for any of the diluted excuses for beer that are presented to drinkers in some of the dry states. The most striking thing about this beer is its excellent clarity and liveliness - a persistent stream of bubble surge from the bottom of the glass, peppering the wonderful copper hue with activity. The foam is dense and long lived, offering plenty of hops and malt. This beer would make the perfect aperitif - it is bitter as hell, far more bitter than any English brewer would make the standard bitter that is alluded to on the label. The ghost of Old Foghorn is definitely in there, betrayed by the same, though understated sweet malt favour that makes the barely wine so enjoyable. It seems that Americans can do low alcohol beer every bit as well as the big hitters that are so popular at the moment.

7 comments:

Dublin beekeeper said...

How do you feel about barley wines? I have only had bigfoot.

n1mbus said...

That reminds me. I haven't tried my own barley wine yet. mmm

Thom said...

I love a chewy sweet barley wine. Bigfoot is my least favourite. I like English styles like Old Nick and Old Tom. I much prefer a rich malt aspect over heavy hopping.

Would I like your barley wine, n1mbus?

Séan Billings said...

Makes me want to give part parti-gyle brewing a shot.

Oblivious said...

I liked the small beer, but I think the carbonate was a bit high for it


Dublin beerkeeper, Fuller's, Golden Pride is available in Dublin

Leigh said...

interesting stuff - will keep my eyes open for this!!

Thom said...

I'd be interested to see what you make of it because I think the Anchor brewers are trying to make a an English bitter and did a reasonable job of it, right down to the slight metallic note that is in so many bottled pale ales.