Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale

Anchor Brewing Co. Liberty Ale – photo by Charles Dunkley

The original modern American IPA.  Or perhaps the original American Pale Ale?

First brewed in 1975 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, Liberty Ale re-introduced the near lost art of dry hopping to America.  Liberty Ale has the distinction of being the first post-prohibition modern American IPA, the first single-hop ale and the first dry-hopped ale.

Anchor’s Liberty Ale® is the original craft brewed ale and the historic beer that started a revolution. – Anchor Brewing

While Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is considered the original American Craft Beer Ale, Anchor Brewing has that distinction with Liberty Ale.  Which leads back to my opening statement/question.  When first introduced, Liberty Ale was high on the IBU scale at 47 IBUs,  mild by today’s standards.  This puts it on the low end of today’s American IPA and on the high end of today’s American Pale Ale.

Breaking down the answer to where Liberty Ale belongs no one opines better than Ask Bob Brewer.  All I know is it is a damn fine beer.

How does it taste?

Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale in Tulip glass – photo by Charles Dunkley

To me, Liberty Ale definitely tastes far more like an American Pale Ale than an American IPA.  It has that definitive malt backbone I expect from a Pale Ale.  And it has a nice, crisp, light floral hop taste.

Liberty Ale is a single-hop beer.  The hop?  Cascade.  It gives a nice bitterness to the beer, a hint of grapefruit, and a mellow floral note.  I can only imagine by 1975 standards this would have been way out there in comparison to the America Macro Lager.  Today finds this as a real solid American Pale Ale.

With the current explosion in popularity of the Session IPA, I wonder, were this a brand new beer brewed by Anchor for the first time, if this would be marketed as a Session IPA.

Either way, American Pale Ale or American IPA this is a classic and a very important beer in the rebirth of the American Ale and forerunner to the emergence of the Craft Beer industry we know and love today.

On Friday, April 3, 2015, for Episode 152 of the Craft Beer Nation Friday Night Hangout,  we drank and talked about the India Pale Ale.  While no one brought this beer to that show, I knew I wanted to revisit this beer.  And, considering Episode 151 was Pale Ale, it seemed like the time was right.

Definitely an American classic either way.

If you have a strongly held opinion about this beer.  From it’s taste or categorization, drop me a comment and let me know.


Craft Beer Nation
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Craft Beer Nation – Friday Night Hangout – Pale Ale

Craft Beer Nation – Friday Night Hangout – India Pale Ale
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Anchor Brewing
Anchor Brewing Website
Liberty Ale

Ask Bob Brewer: Is Liberty Ale an APA or an IPA?



The Song That Scares Me

Sometimes, late on a Saturday night, I’m at the computer, headphones on, having a few craft beers and deep diving back into my YouTube History for songs I haven’t listened to in a while. And last night I came across a song that terrifies me every time I listen to it.

Velvet Underground – Heroin

I imagine there must be people who, upon their first listen, say to themselves: “Heroin sounds like just what I need in my life.” But I’m not one of them. This song alone is enough to make me run in the other direction.

For some context, I’ve never done drugs. Of any kind. I’ve never smoked, cigarettes or anything else. My only vice is craft beer. I was the child who listened to his parents about the destructive nature of narcotics. And, being an asthmatic, the thought of smoking anything had zero appeal.

Heroin is a brilliant song and one of Lou Reed’s best vocal performances. Musically, it begins slow and melodic with just Lou Reed’s guitar and Maureen Tucker’s drum. Soon, John Cale’s electric viola and Sterling Morrison’s rhythm guitar join in. There is no bass guitar.

Listening to the singer’s riding a wave of heroin scared and riveted me the first time I heard this song. Reed’ voice and lyrics take you on his journey. Listening to this song I imagine this could only be written by someone who has experienced this.

I’ve thought a lot about why this song scares me the way it does. Some of it is the music. Cale’s searing, screeching electric viola and the relentless drumming of Tucker grip me and drag me along on a ride I would be terrified to experience for real.  But beyond that is Reed’s vocal performance.  His voice rises and falls, gets hard and wild and soft and sweet.  There’s that moment, lost in the rush he must be experiencing where he’s laughing even as he’s nearing death. In the end, I think it is this raw, naked reveal of despair that terrifies me.  Of being that lost and trying to drown the world away, and the unrelenting vulnerability of putting it all on display for the whole world to see and share.

This song has been claimed by many to glorify drug use. I don’t see it that way. To me it is just the experience of it.  Reed isn’t glorifying or denouncing it. He’s simply giving us a glimpse into that ride. A ride that just seeing into that abyss in the version of a song leaves me shaken and terrified.

There are few songs that are this powerful. Songs that can take me on an emotional journey that leaves me physically spent. The End by the Doors is another one.

Is there a song that terrifies you?

Interested in music?  Check out my new weekly blog series: Weekly Wonderings:

Weekly Wonderings 001 – Inaugural

Weekly Wondersing 002 – Learning



I Don’t Want To Be You

I’m a craft beer guy

Well, by day I’m an IT guy, that’s how I earn a living. But outside of the IT world I’m a craft beer guy. For the past couple of years I’ve been a participant in Craft Beer Nation. And these days I’m one of their Moderators and their Hangout On Air Technical Producer. You can read about my road to Craft Beer Nation here.

As part of the Craft Beer Nation I’ve been paying a lot of attention online to people in other industries.  Read More

Pumpkin and Oktoberfest Beers

Seasonal Craft Beers have developed into a big deal in the craft beer industry.  Seasonal sales have continued to grow in importance and market share.  October of 2014 saw an explosion of Pumpkin Beer into the market.

Oktoberfest has long ruled the roost when it comes to October, with its style roots dating back to 1810.  Pumpkin beers have been around for a while but have really blossomed into a full blown experience in the last couple of years with 2014 seeing a huge uptick in the style.

As Moderators of Craft Beer Nation we were really interested in going all in for Pumpkin Beers in 2014.  Over on Google+ we created a month long Event Page where everyone could come and share their pics and notes on Pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers.

We had a lot of fun that month, amassing 123 pictures and numerous comments.  I managed to try out over 20 different Pumpkin Beers and 15 Oktoberfest Beers that month.  It was definitely an interesting and enjoyable experience.   We’re looking forward to seeing what style we can explore for October 2015.


Playing around with video editing

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos of Gary Vaynerchuk and he does a masterful job of repackaging content.  He finds ways to take older video content and make it timely and relevant.  And he takes snippets from his own longer videos, extracting those key moments and re-presenting them in a new way to not only highlight that important moment but to entice you to explore his content even more.  A great example of this is here.

This morning was my first time playing around with Microsoft Movie Maker.  This is a quick video I shot coming out of work in the middle of the night last April.  I took a few pictures that night as well.  One of those pics sits as my current side bar image.  This seemed like a simple video to play around with.

Why, you might wonder, am I interested in doing this?

I participate in a weekly Hangout On Air with Craft Beer Nation (mainly in a Technical Producer role but also as an active participant).  We have a 30 minute current events show every Thursday evening at 9:30PM Eastern called Pints and Quarts.  It usually consists of a conversation with someone in the craft beer industry.  And concludes with highlighting some news articles, new releases, a beer review and upcoming festivals.  We’ve recently added a Job of the Week, highlighting a job posting from our new (and first) sponsor, Craft Beverage Jobs.

We also have a new Hangout On Air Series called Mashing Out with The Beer Fairy.  This is a new monthly series focusing on Homebrewing.  It is run and hosted by Ashley Bower (aka The Beer Fairy). a long time Craft Beer Nation Moderator and a Certified Cicerone.

Once the show has aired live it remains on the Craft Beer Nation YouTube Page and they also get repackaged as a podcast.  Once these two steps are done that’s it.  We get about a week’s worth of traction from these shows and then not much more.  And that’s where content repackaging/repurposing comes into play.  It’s a big area where we as a brand are missing out.  And watching a host of Gary Vaynerchuk videos (along with reading some insightful blogs around the web)  has really opened my mind to want to take a look at all of the countless hours of material we have already recorded as Craft Beer Nation and extract from it all of the little gems that I know are in there.  I’ve been thinking of taking snippets from each and making short little promo videos.  Re-purposing content goes a long way and it’s something we really do not take advantage of at Craft Beer Nation.  And now is the time to change that.  Between Twitter and Instagram and even Pinterest (which is growing by leaps and bounds) it’s a very exciting time to be carving out a slice of the social media realm.

Since I’ve been thinking of playing around with some video editing to enhance some of our Craft Beer Nation video this seemed like a good quick little video I had sitting around to play with.  I didn’t do much to it at all but you have to start somewhere.  So, for posterity’s sake I decided to upload this one.  Maybe one day I will come back and see just how far I’m able to take video content from this very humble beginning.

Ommegang 2014

Back on Saint Patrick’s Day 2014 my best friend Ashley and I took a trip over to Ommegang Brewery for not only some St. Paddy’s celebration but to pick up some Game of Thrones Fire and Blood (which had it’s release party at the brewery the previous day).  And I began my Ommegang glassware collection that day.

WP_20140317_14_53_16_ProOmmegang is located in the hillside by Cooperstown, nestled on a beautiful sloping hill.  The building is absolutely gorgeous looking.  It looks like something that has been there for hundreds of years, and in a good way.  The all white walls gleam in the bright sunlight and the roof shows off a nice pattern that repeats across the whole building.

You drive up the road and pull off to the left into the parking lot.  From there you walk back to the front and pass under the deep archway.

The Archway

I loved the archway.  It makes for a grand entrance, giving the illusion you’re walking into an old estate.  Once you come out the other side you can see the hill rising above you, a large clearing that ends in a tree line.  While the field was empty on this chilly March day they do hold events and concerts there.


Nestled behind the main building off to the right is the Gift Shop/Cafe.  We went in and then just stood there for a moment.  There before you is a whole section of glassware.  Each specific year round beer they brew has its own glass designed just for it.  I knew right away I was going to be coming home with more than one glass.  Ommegang is one of my favorite breweries.  They specialize in Belgian style beers and their selection is quite excellent.  They brew my favorite Belgian Dubbel; Abbey Ale.  It is my go to Belgian beer and my main beer to cook with.

WP_20140317_16_18_28_ProBesides the glassware, set front and center as you walk in was the Game of Thrones display.  This was the main reason we had made the trek to Cooperstown.  For Fire and Blood.  But before we filled a basket with gift shop goodies we realized we needed to eat, especially if we were going to be sampling some delicious beers.

Cafe Ommegang

I’ve had Taproom food before and some of it is good and some is okay.   But at Ommegang this is not a Taproom with some bar grub.  This is a full blown cafe.  They take pride in their food and the chef makes some amazing dishes.  The meal I had was delicious, better than I’ve had in many a restaurant.


Besides the food there two line ups of beer taps.  On one side is the regular Ommegang lineup and on the other a selection of beers brewed by other breweries in the Duvel family.  I started off with the Fire and Blood and then enjoyed a Glimmerglass.

A Quick Tour

After that it was time for the tour.  There was a small group that day and the tour itself was quick.  At the start, before going into the main brewing hall you walk across the back courtyard.  Towering above you are their large lagering towers where the beer is aged before filtration.  They give you an idea of the kind of volume in play here.

WP_20140317_16_09_12_ProAfter the quick walk it’s into the main brewery itself.  You follow the brewing process from beginning to end (and get a peek into their open fermentor where so much of the magic happens).   The tour ends with the large bottling line, which allows for far more bottling capacity than they are currently at, giving them plenty of room for growth,

After the tour it’s back to the small little tasting room tucked off the side of the Cafe and Gift Shop.  In there, you get a sampling of each of their year round offerings and a small complimentary tasting glass.  Once the tour and tasting was done it was time to head back into the Gift Shop.  Beers, t-shirts, and multiple glassware later it was back out into the parking lot and the drive back to my buddy Ashley’s house where she and her husband would be heading out for their first St. Paddy’s as a married couple, once he got off work.  Ashley had her Fire and Blood in hand, happy to bring it home to save for another day.

Overall, it was a great afternoon.  Ommegang was a pleasure to visit.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous looking place with world class beers and outstanding cuisine.  I’m definitely going back again this year.