Anchor Porter had been sitting on the shelf of my favorite beer store for about five months before I finally picked up a six pack to sample. I kept away from this beer for a couple reasons despite it hailing from one of my favorite American breweries. For one thing I’ve been a huge fan of Anchor’s Steam Beer and Liberty Ale for years and had been looking forward to the day when I’d have more of their products to try. So, when Anchor Porter finally showed up in Edmonton I was concerned it wouldn’t live up to the anticipation.
Also, as much as I hate to say it, American craft breweries have been hit or miss for me when it comes to darker beers. For every Old Rasputin you come to love, you find a half dozen others that just suck out loud. As it happens the last time I went to pick up beer I was on a porter kick and used that as an excuse to grab a six pack of the Anchor offering. And when the time came I got home, left a bottle of porter on the counter to come up to the proper temperature and poured myself a glass.
Deep, ruby colored porter pours into the glass. Anchor Porter is crystal clear with pinpoint carbonation supporting a dense, mocha colored head with good retention. Up front malt, cocoa and liquorice in the aroma. This is supported by nuts and hints of acidity. Combined, the aromas of Anchor Porter give a vaguely roasted aroma. Not quite roasted coffee, not quite roasted malt, but there it is. Way in the background are the hops, offering notes of pine.
My first impression is of a decently full bodied ale with a lush, almost oily mouthfeel. Flavor starts off predominantly offering roasted malts, dried pitted fruits, and offerings of smoky, piney hops in the background. Flavor is fairly linear, moving directly from roasted malts to smokiness and pitted fruits in the center with a bracingly dry finish that lasts and lasts. Interestingly, it’s the smokiness that seems to provide the beer’s through note or backbone.
Anchor Porter definitely leaves an impression, and not a bad one at that. This is definitely an American porter, being far more robust than the English models. And what I find enjoyable is how it’s able to be robust and decently balanced. None of the flavors or aromas are out of proportion to anything else. And the beer’s roastiness seems to do well pulling the whole thing together. If you’re a fan of English porter or any flavorful dark style of ale, I think you’ll like Anchor Porter. I’m gonna have to give it an 8.42 out of 10.