Chicagoist's Beer Of The Week: Anchor IPA

By Jason Baldacci in Food on Mar 7, 2014 10:35PM

2014_3_7_anchor.jpgThis week, we look at a new release from one of America's most iconic craft breweries.

Anchor IPA from San Francisco's Anchor Brewing Co. was just released in Chicago this week. Most of Anchor's offerings are only brewed with one to three different types of hops, but this new beer is made with a literal grab bag of varietals from all over the world and it's apparent from the first whiff. The nose is incredibly floral and made us think of fresh pollen on warmer days. We also picked up a hint of navel orange. Those floral tones pop on the front of the palate but are met with notes of tropical pineapple and juicy mango that give way to an assertive, herbal finish that lingers for a while after you take a sip. The malts used in Anchor IPA give it a beautiful, copper-ruby color along with a crisp, biscuity mouthfeel and just enough sweetness to balance those hops. At 6.5 percent alcohol content, Anchor IPA is wonderfully complex, yet drinks easy enough that you will probably opt for a second pint. We sure did.

While we normally dedicate the Beer of the Week column to local or at least Midwestern beers, we felt it was appropriate to deviate this week since Anchor just launched this new IPA in California a few weeks ago and Chicago is the first out-of-state market to get a taste. It also doesn't hurt that Anchor Brewing has been around longer than the term "craft brewery" itself and inevitably has influenced most, if not all of our local scene in one way or another.

The history of the brewery pre-dates Prohibition by more than two decades but even if you consider that a technicality, the current iteration of Anchor has been going strong since 1965 when a young Fritz Maytag bought a controlling stake in the company to keep it from closing its doors. They've been bottling their flagship Anchor Steam Beer since 1971 and their hopped up Liberty Ale since 1975, putting a huge emphasis on quality longer than most of our favorite craft breweries today have even been in existence. While Anchor IPA may be a brand new release for them, we have to say that it feels a lot more refined than something that first rolled off the bottling line this year.

Anchor IPA is available both on draft and in Anchor's handsome 12-ounce bottles. Check beermenus.com to see where you can pick some up this weekend.