Beer of the Week: Anchorage Love Buzz
Due to the frigid temperatures, most breweries in Alaska have become adept at creating lush, heavy, warming beers. Alaskan Brewing is known for a smoky, dark porter and a rich barleywine. Glacier Brewhouse throws a month-long celebration of barleywine. Midnight Sun brewery is most famous for a legendary barleywine, and when we heard Midnight Sun's Gabe Fletcher had decided to branch out in a lighter direction with the newish Anchorage Brewing Company, we were all ears.
Anchorage specializes in wine-barrel fermented beers which employ a host of souring bacteria, and are typically finished with a wild yeast called brettanomyces. The resulting beers are tart, rustic, and complex. The second batch of Love Buzz, which just began to hit Bay Area shelves, is no exception.
The base of the beer is a saison brewed with rosehips, peppercorns, and fresh orange peel. The brew is then dry-hopped with Citra hops which provide a passion fruit-like aroma. Much of the beer's character is derived from the fermentation process. Initially, the brew ferments in tanks with a Belgian yeast strain which imparts a distinctly fruity, peppery component. Next, the beer is transferred to French oak Pinot Noir barrels, where it is re-fermented with brettanomyces. The "brett" lends an earthiness that continues to evolve as the beer ages. Lastly, Love Buzz undergoes a third fermentation in the bottle with another yeast which creates natural carbonation. So, yeah, this is high-concept stuff.
The resulting beer wouldn't keep you warm through the night, but it sure is a nice sipper for a San Francisco Indian summer. The beverage deftly balances citrus elements from the hops and orange peel against vinous barrel notes and a distinctly funky, leathery brettanomyces character. Try this beer alongside a washed rind cheese for a unique, intense pairing. Be sure to call ahead for availability at better beer shops throughout the city.