San Fransisco’s Anchor Brewing originated a style called “steam beer,” but that is not their only innovation. They also brewed the first modern American wheat beer, their Summer Beer, first brewed in 1984. Anchor Summer Beer is made with 50% wheat and 50% barley malt. This is high for an American wheat beer, but slightly lower than traditional German hefeweizens. It’s still enough to give Anchor Summer a unique character that's stood the test of time.
The beer pours a very pale straw color with a fizzy white head that quickly dissipates. There is some haziness in the body. The flavor is predominated by a bold hop character: spicy and herbal up front, with a lemony twang in the finish. The hop bitterness lingers on the tongue, making the drinker want another sip. The hops are balanced out by sweet malt that reminds one of white bread or maybe even cake. The malt is pretty mild, though, and definitely takes a back seat to the hops. The carbonation is a bit on the fizzy side, but that’s forgivable in a light-bodied beer.
All these elements combine to form a very drinkable beer – the sort where one sip leads to another and soon you want to crack open a new bottle. The good news is, it’s light enough in flavor (and alcohol at 4.5% by volume) that you easily could have another with little trouble. All in all, this is a solid example of an easy-going summer beer.