Anchors Aweigh…

All homebrewers and modern craft brewers owe a nod of respect and a thank you to Fritz Maytag. The heir to the appliance company fortune, Fritz rescued his favorite brewery, Anchor, from extinction in the 1960’s, and made it into one of the most innovative and respected small breweries in North America. Best known for Anchor Steam, the brewery also produces a surprising array of other beers, including a terrific porter, an American wheat beer, the classic Old Foghorn Barleywine, and my personal favorite, Liberty Ale. Liberty is a robust British-style pale ale, bittered with American hops (Cascades primarily) and dry-hopped in the secondary. I brew it with Northern Brewer hops as well, and ferment it with the same San Francisco lager yeast that I would use for Anchor Steam. Rich and hoppy, this is a great session beer for the moderate hop-head.

Ingredients:

  • 9 lbs. Maris Otter pale malt
  • 8 oz. toasted pale malt
  • 8 oz. 20°L crystal malt
  • 2-1/2 oz. home grown Cascade whole hops
  • 5.3 AAU’s Northern Brewer hop pellets (1/2 oz.@10.6% aa)
  • White Labs San Francisco Lager yeast (WLP810)
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar (for priming)
  • 2-3 whole Cascade flowers

Procedure:
Toast the pale malt (350°F for 15 minutes). Grind the grains. Heat 14 quarts water to 165°F, add crushed grains and hold 75 minutes at 153°F. Runoff and sparge with 14 quarts water at 170°F. Collect 24 quarts sweet wort, heat to boiling. Add 2 oz. Cascade hops, boil 45 minutes. Add Northern Brewer pellets, boil 30 more minutes (75 total), shut off heat. Remove Cascade hops, chill wort to 80°F. Take a hydrometer reading, pour vigorously into a sanitized primary fermenter, add 1/2 oz. Cascade hops (in a mesh bag), pitch yeast. Ferment in primary for 7 – 10 days at 55 – 60°F, transfer to secondary (remove dry hops), age 10 – 14 days more at 45 – 50°F. Prime with corn sugar and bottle. Bottle condition cool for two weeks or so.

OG: 1057
IBU’s: 60 (+/-)

Notes: I used my own home-grown Cascade hops to brew this beer, and thus am only able to guess at the IBU’s – recent commercial Cascade crops have ranged anywhere from 3.5%  to 7.2% aa – I chose to split the difference and calculated based on a value of 5.3%. I dry hop in the primary rather than the secondary, and steep a couple Cascade flowers in my priming sugar syrup to bring out the fresh hop aroma at bottling.

Home brewing is not an exact science, no matter what some may tell you. When I plan a brew, I always have a target gravity in mind, based on what I know about my ingredients and my system. I am usually within 3 or 4 points of my intended OG, but rarely right on the nose. Well, today I nailed it. 1057 exactly, right where I wanted to be, right at what Michael Jackson gives as the official Anchor Liberty OG. I’m so proud…

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