“Jeremiah was a tour guide. He knew a lot about barleywine. I barely understood every word he said, but the brews he poured were mighty fine. Yes, the brews he poured were mighty fine.”
You know how sometimes a song just gets stuck in your head and it won’t go away? Ever since I took a tour of Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco with employee/guide Jeremiah Liebrecht, this loose interpretation of the Three Dog Night classic, ‘Joy to the World‘, has been rolling around in mine. Perhaps by putting it down in this blog, I will be able to move on. 😉
I have toured breweries in the past but never at an operation that still sticks to the old-school way of doing things and never with a guide who is as passionate about what he does as Jeremiah. I think it is safe to say we learned a lot and we were thoroughly entertained in the process.
First of all, I learned to stop calling it Anchor Steam Brewery; it is Anchor Brewing Company and they make a ‘steam beer’. Back in the 1890s, with good old necessity as the mother of invention, they developed a primitive process of using San Francisco’s famous fog to cool the wort since they didn’t have a ready supply of ice. When the fog hit the warm tanks on the brewery roof top it gave off steam and a nickname soon followed that Anchor has since trademarked.
Some other fun facts:
Porter is so named because it was the brew drunk by the sailors ‘in port’. They took the more substantial stouts on board for when they were out at sea.
IPA, or India-style pale ale, gets its name from the practice employed with the English breweries when shipping to India. Back in the day, they would stuff the airspace in the top of each barrel with dry hops. It didn’t change the flavor but it did impart a change in aroma as the beer sat below deck on the long voyage. East India-style merely refers to the process when the beer went in the other direction.
Barleywine is so named as a way to get around old British tax regulations. Beer was taxed based on its alcohol content with higher taxes falling on beers with higher levels of alcohol. Wine was not taxed as highly. With a mere name change from ‘beer’ to ‘barleywine’, producers significantly cut their costs.
I could go on, but I wouldn’t want to give away all of Jeremiah’s secrets. For more, you will just have to pay a visit to Anchor Brewing Company and take the tour for yourself. The tour is by reservation only and you need to plan ahead as they are currently booked out for six months. In the meantime, educate yourself in advance by trying the whole line up of great, traditional brews put out by Anchor Brewing Company. My favorite is Old Foghorn. What’s yours?