As a certified “hometowner”, I’ve always given up the props to ANCHOR STEAM, one of the earliest craft brews I ever came to love, and a certified institution here in San Francisco. It’s almost always the beer of choice at bars that serve only macro lagers on tap, as just about all of ‘em are kind enough to reserve a tap handle for Anchor Steam. Strangely, I’ve barely dipped into the rest of their lineup since the days when LIBERTY ALE and OLD FOGHORN and the rest were among the only games in town. The fellas on the beer podcast BEER SCHOOL were proclaiming their love for LIBERTY ALE the other day, calling it an IPA that dare not call itself an IPA (or something along those lines), and I reckoned I needed to give it a try again. It’s probably been over a decade since I’ve had one.
Now that I feel the need to assign a rating/categorization/ classification to every beer I try, let me be the first to say that ANCHOR LIBERTY ALE is not an IPA, and to my taste, it’s not that great either. It’s most assuredly a pale ale, and a rather dampened one at that. Hops are mild if a bit spicy, and it’s got a moderately-carbonated, “glassy” sorta taste to it. Some might call it “bready” – I’m not prepared to go there yet, brother. What Liberty Ale is is a decidedly average – no, check that – below average American pale ale. Even a hometowner says so. 5/10. I’ll stick with the ‘Steam.