The beginning of summer is here. How can you tell? Perhaps it's the sound of the crack of the bat over at AT&T Park, or even the crowds drinking by the bay at Pier 23. Or maybe it's the release of Anchor Brewing's latest seasonal, Anchor Saison Spring Ale.
The saison is refreshing in a number of ways - in its taste and smell, yes, but also as a sign of Anchor's future.
The beer is a great interpretation of a saison, and possibly further away from Anchor's "usual" than you would expect. They use classic California ingredients, lemongrass, lemon peel, and ginger, which combine to create a great flavor (personally I love lemongrass in saisons). But those bold flavors, combined with the 7.2% ABV (!), signal something new for Anchor Brewing.
Anchor Bock was a well balanced beer, but an unpopular style at the time. So, Anchor retired it. And taking its place is the saison - currently a very popular style. Anchor isn't necessarily pushing the boundaries of saisons with this beer, but the flavor is potent and the beer is strong. Gone are the days when Anchor is playing catch up to all the new craft breweries, Anchor is showing it can hold its own. I don't know if we'll see an Anchor sour in the next year, but you never know with Anchor anymore.
For a long time, Anchor seemingly rested on its laurels with its (admittedly great) lineup of beers. Then a shift happened with their Zymaster series. Another sign of change was the release of Anchor's IPA. But the Anchor Saison is a statement that change has already happened at Anchor Brewing - and we should look forward to whatever is coming next. Besides the warm weather, of course.
Beer of the moment: Three Floyd's Zombie Dust