Monday, April 30, 2012

San Francisco Airport Breweries – Part 1

                Last week I flew through San Francisco and took the chance to swing into both of the brewery owned airport restaurants in the United terminal, Anchor Brewing Company and Gordon Biersch.  Each was enjoyable, I have been going to Gordon Biersch every time I passed through San Francisco for the past 6 years, but only discovered the Anchor Brewing restaurant about a year and a half ago.  Unfortunately, the time I discovered it was also the last time I flew through San Francisco until last week.  I knew though that I would have to swing by both breweries as I waited for my red-eye flight (6 hours in the airport, fun right?).  Tonight I will cover the Anchor BrewingCompany, tomorrow night will be a write-up on Gordon Biersch.

                So, between the two options I decided to stop at Anchor Brewing first to get some dinner, an unbelievably good Crab and Swiss melt on sourdough with a side of piping hot fries.  It was a great dinner, unfortunately the sandwich was a bit small for the $14.95 price.  I also ordered the first beer of the night with my dinner, the Anchor Porter (5.6% ABV).

                Anchor Porter currently has a 92 on Beeradvocate with a 99 from the Bros.  Over at ratebeer it has a 99 overall and a 100 for the style.

They say:

        Intimidating color. Unexpected taste. Welcome to American Porter.

With deep black color, a thick, creamy head, rich chocolate, toffee and coffee flavors, and full-bodied smoothness, Anchor Porter® is the epitome of a handcrafted dark beer.
A blend of specially roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, along with our top-fermenting yeast, creates complexity without bitterness. The brew is hopped at a high rate, and naturally carbonated. The result is dark in the glass, but surprisingly light on the palate.
Anchor Porter® became the first modern American porter when it was introduced in 1972. As we celebrate its 40th anniversary, our porter continues to reward those who look beyond its intimidating appearance to discover its smooth, full-bodied drinkability. Anchor Porter® is the definitive American Porter.

First Brew: 1972
First Bottling: 1974
Alc. by Volume: 5.6%
Availability: Year-round
Malt:  Blend of 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Black & Chocolate
Hops: Northern Brewer

I Say:

            First off, if you want a good classic porter, there are few better.  The Anchor porter is a very dark, opaque mahogany with an impressive dark tan head.  The roasted malt aroma is backed up by a slight sweetness with chocolate and toffee notes.  The flavor is of rich roasted malt, chocolate and toffee with a very slight bitter coffee bight that becomes increasingly more prevalent as the beer gets warmer.  This is an awesome beer and anyone who likes porter should get a bottle, or better yet look for it on tap at your local bar.

Next up was the Anchor Summer Beer (4.5% ABV).

            On Beeradvocate the Summer Beer has a 77 with an 82 from the Bros.  Over on ratebeer it has a 33 overall with a 52 for style.

They say:

Crisp and cool as a San Francisco summer.
The crisp, clean flavors of Anchor Summer ® Beer are refreshingly light, a thirst-quenching American-style filtered wheat beer.
Released each year in advance of the summer season, Anchor Summer ® Beer is an all-malt beer, with over 50% of its malt derived from malted wheat. It is fermented with a traditional top-fermenting "ale" yeast, yielding a clean, balanced flavor that highlights the refreshingly light flavor of malted wheat. The head is unusually abundant due to the natural protein deposits of wheat, with a thick consistency similar to meringue.
First brewed in the summer of 1984, Anchor Summer ® Beer is the first American wheat beer in modern times. Anchor Summer ® Beer is intended to be a lighter beer for those who don’t want to sacrifice tradition or character.
First Brew: 1984
First Bottling: 1984
Alc. by Volume: 4.5%
Availability: April-Oct
Malt: Blend of 2-Row Pale & Malted Wheat
Hops: Goldings & Glacier

I say:

            I had high hopes for the Summer Beer because I am a big fan of wheat beers due to their refreshing nature and well rounded, smooth flavor.  It pours a light golden color with a white head, unfortunately it was served with very little head, but a few sips and some swirling produced a very nice one.  There is a very light malt aroma, more similar to an American lager than an American Wheat (although American Wheat beers have noticeably less character in the aroma than German wheat beers due to the clean fermenting American yeast strain).  The flavor is very light and grainy, no discernible hops.  I don’t often add fruit to my beer, but I was more than happy to add the lemon that the bartender paired with it for some added flavor complexity.  The wheat was a slight let down, and certainly was not the excellent representation of the style that the porter was.

            The Anchor Brewing Company restaurant in the airport is an excellent stop for some great beer and some great food, just be warned that it is a sit down restaurant with the typical restaurant wait times.  There are many negative reviews of the restaurant from people who went there expecting pre-cooked food under a heat lamp and were angry that they did not receive their food immediately after ordering.  However, if you are willing to wait for the food (10-15 min), and want to have an excellent beer there are plenty of reasons to stop by and stay for a few.  Heading to the airport restaurant just intensified my desire to stop by the actual Anchor Brewery the next time I am in San Francisco!

            That’s all for tonight, come back tomorrow for a write-up on the airport Gordon Biersch.

Happy Drinking!!

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