Icons of Craft. 1st Day.

‘In the beginning there was Fritz Maytag.’

Steve Hindy, Craft Beer Revolution

I’m starting my #12beersofxmas with two beers. I know what you’re thinking. You would do the same in my position. Besides it is the weekend so pipe down. My first two beers are simply icons of craft beer. I want to give some history to give some context as to why I have started with these beers.

Anchor Steam Beer and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Anchor Steam Beer and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Anchor Steam Beer

Style: California Common Ale

ABV: 4.9%

Size: 355ml (Bottle)

The quote above is the opening line from Steve Hindy’s book, The Craft Beer Revolution. In 1965 Fritz Maytag bought the failing Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco. 1965. 50 years ago. He slowly turned the company around with a focus on perfecting the art of all things beer making.

"Americas First Craft Beer Brewery"
“Americas First Craft Beer Brewery”

Anchor Steam was their first and their signature beer. It’s is a California common ale, a modern version of steam beer. It uses lager yeasts brewed at ale temperature resulting in a deep amber colour and creamy head. It makes for a rich, biscuity malty beer, which I find very drinkable.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Style: (American) Pale Pale

ABV: 5.6%

Size: 355ml (Bottle)

In 1978 Fritz Maytag gave brewery tours to participants at the first Beer and Wine trade show in San Francisco. One of those on the tour was Ken Grossman, who founded Sierra Nevada Brewing Co in 1979 alongside Paul Camusi in Chico California. In November 1980, they brewed their first batch of beer. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was born.

The distinctive green label and Illustration of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
The distinctive green label and Illustration of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has a distinctive green label with a lovely illustration of a stream with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance, surrounded by garlands of fresh hops and barley. It is a big and bold Pale Ale with good use of bittering and aroma hops for a strong flavoursome beer that’s great bottled, canned and on keg. I like to drink mine real cold, with condensation running down the bottle or glass, reminding me of summer days back in Australia.

Useful Links and Resources

Hindy, S. (2014). Craft Beer Revolution, How a Band of Microbrewers Is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink. Palgrave Macmillan

Grossman, K. (2013). Beyond the Pale, The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing C. Wiley.



Author: Michael Lally

London-based Australian blogger, podcaster and wannabe photographer. Looking to tell great stories about the world of craft beer and the have conversations with the people behind the craft beer scene in the UK.

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