That's how Anchor Steam Beer makes me feel. There's enough flavour in there that it's obviously a tasty beer, full of earthy, spicy Northern Brewer hops and a dab of caramelly malt, but always at the periphery there is something a little different. It's almost as though I'm actually projecting flavours into the beer - the flavours are familiar, but they are subtly changed by the weather, my mood, or what I had for lunch a few hours ago. In fact, now I write this, the phrase that John Peel used to describe his fascination with The Fall springs to mind: "Always the same, but always different". Either that, or there's massive batch variation, but such is my love and respect for Anchor beers, I can't truly entertain that as an option.
So news that Anchor has been sold came as a bit of a surprise, but I'm enough of a softie to believe that the beers are such icons in the history of American craft brewing (and perhaps even globally) that they are beyond change. One thing is sure; it is either the making or breaking of the brand. Either the beers will carry on unchanged, and the brewery will continue prosper in perpetuity, or the beers will change, and the love and support that Fritz Maytag has spent decades building up will evaporate overnight. For obvious reasons, I'm hoping for the former - the latter is not an option.
Thanks to Rick Kempen at Bier & Co for the bottle of Humming Ale.