Anchor Brewing is hearing the siren call of fruit.
The San Francisco brewery known for its iconic steam beer as well the creation of what is considered the first modern day India pale ale in Liberty Ale has recently been finding inspiration in fruit.
Anchor is debuting the Pacific Siren Series with the release of Anchor Meyer Lemon Lager and Anchor Mango Wheat.
"When it came to the decision to start making some beers that were definitely out of our traditional core lineup we wanted to make beers on one end of the spectrum," said Anchor's brewmaster, Scott Ungermann. "These are beers that are designed to be more delicate and drinkable, that are balanced with fruit and have interesting aromas, but not to the point of it being a shandy or a flavored beer."
But that's not to say that after seeing the popularity of Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy the idea of an Anchor shandy didn't briefly cross the company's mind.
"We were talking about the possibility of doing a shandy and we really decided that it wasn't part of our DNA, it wasn't what we wanted to do," said Ungermann. "It's a little too soda pop-ish and a little too sweet."
Instead, the company tweaked its classic lager recipe to make it a little lighter and added lemon.
"Meyer lemons are something that grow very well in this region. Many people have them as ornamental lemon trees in their yards, including a lot of people that work here, so I sent out a note to everyone that said bring in your Meyer lemons and we'll get them in a test brew."
The result was Meyer Lemon Lager, which was first released in California last year but will now be distributed nationally along with the newly created Mango Wheat, which is made with sun-ripened mangoes.
Anchor also recently unveiled another fruit-forward beer, that while not officially part of the Pacific Siren Series, is sure to be a hit in the San Francisco area. Orange Splash Lager is a collaboration with fellow hometown icon the San Francisco Giants. The brew will be available at AT&T Park and throughout the Giants' designated Major League Baseball geographic territory.
"We believe it's the first time that a craft brewer has collaborated with a Major League Baseball team, or probably any major sports franchise, to create a beer together that is really about both of us," said Ungermann. "The concept was to make a beer not just for the Giants but really with the Giants."
Ungermann knew from the very beginning that one aspect was key: creating a beer that is orange.
"The simple idea we had was to make a beer that's orange, to match their orange logo," he said. "We wanted to see how well we could hit that hue, that specific Giants' orange, with the color of the beer."
Ungermann was able to achieve that goal by using specialty malts, which created an orange hue in the beer. Orange peels and natural orange flavor were added to create what Ungermann says is a beer with a slightly citrusy flavor but still drinks like a lager.
That sort of subtly is the same idea that permeates the Pacific Siren Series Meyer Lemon Lager and Mango Wheat releases.
"We really felt like we could make a series or collection out of this fruit beer theme by taking fairly traditional beer styles and adding fruit in some way that is interesting and gives us a beer with a fruit aroma but that's not over the top sweet or super fruit forward," he said.