Monster Beer: Anchor Brewing Old Foghorn

Beer Monster Review

Anchor Brewing are one of the better known US brewers; I’ve known of their Anchor Steam Beer for almost as long as I’ve known beer, which is a worryingly long time.

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Today, I’m exploring two of their beers. Only one of them is a Monster, so let’s start with that one!

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Old Foghorn is a barley wine style ale, and it’s a proper monster coming in at 8.8% ABV. It’s a deep but clear mahogany in the glass, with a fairly fleeting pale tan head on it. The nose is a full-on barley wine – sweet, sticky dried fruit, molasses and a touch of fudge.

The promise of that nose is delivered on the palate; it’s big, thick and sweet, with a gloriously rich fruit flavour and just at the very back of your mouth is a delicious undercurrent of hops. There’s enough carbonation to stop the stickiness overwhelming you, and then a long, warming alcohol finish running all the way down to your belly.

It’s prunes stewed in Pedro Ximenez.

It’s wonderful.

However, that’s not the end of the story. When I brewed my Double IPA earlier this year, I dusted off the old tradition of using the second runnings to make a “small beer” and Anchor have done exactly the same.

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The first wort makes Old Foghorn and the second goes into their imaginatively named Anchor Small Beer. It’s certainly small at 3.2% ABV, although the bottle is substantially larger than the Old Foghorn.

Understandably as a pale golden ale it’s lot paler than it’s big brother, with some large rising bubbles and a frankly huge head. The nose is unremarkable; slight earthy notes but nothing that stands out.

In the mouth, it’s watery – there’s a reasonable bitterness to it, but it’s weak. It tastes more like third or fourth runnings, as if making the Old Foghorn has taken everything out of the malt.

I might be more enthusiastic if I hadn’t just enjoyed the magnificent Old Foghorn, but Anchor’s Small Beer is aptly named – very small.

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