Brewing out of San Francisco was one of America’s first true “craft”
breweries (well before that term was coined). They’re best known for
their trademarked Anchor Steam beer – which is an interesting lager/ale
hybrid. I’ve always found it to be okay, but nothing special. This
edition, the “Brotherhood” Steam Beer is a modernizing of the recipe
with plenty of hop aroma, flavor and bitterness. Is it any wonder I like
it better than the original?
I poured a 12oz can into a mug. There was no freshness date. It cost $3.25 ($0.29 per ounce).
Appearance: Beautiful copper color; quite clear with tiny, slow
carbonation bubbles visible. Pours to an average-sized, white, soapy
head which retains laces pretty well.
Smell: Lovely hop aroma with notes of pine, grass and perhaps a touch of mint or some herbal character.
Taste: While I wouldn’t say this beer is absolutely wonderfully
delicious, I will say that it is well-balanced with plenty of hop and
malt character that create for an interesting dynamic, but also
complement each other. Similar to a Vienna lager, there’s a nice taste
of the amber malts here; they create for a lightly sweet caramel and
bready flavor. Lingering in the background is a mild zesty taste of
grassy hops and a firm bitterness. On the back end the hops become much
more prominent and even bite a little. Pine needles and a light kiss of
mint are noticeable. It might not sound like a good combination, but
they actually play off the malt base nicely. This is much more
interesting than Anchor’s flagship steam beer – I hope they make this a
perennial offering and not just a one-off.
Drinkability: The thing about steam beers (a.k.a. California Commons) is
that they tend to have the taste of ale but the body of a lager.
Brotherhood Steam Beer is a bit bigger in body than the average lager,
but maintains the consistent carbonation and accompanying crispness of a
lager. The hops actually linger for a bit and leave a slight starchy
sensation. I would not call this beer refreshing, but it easy very easy
to drink quickly. At 5.6% ABV this is strong enough to stand up to a
meal, but still light enough to tempt you into sessioning it.