Hoppy Xmas countdown – 3 Dec

It’s day 3 of the Advent Calendar of Beer and today we have an interesting brew that I have a story about. Sort of. Just go with it.

Name: Anker Brew
Brewery: Den Anker with Boston Breweries
Country: Cape Town, South Africa
Style: Belgian Ale
Rating: 3 / 5

Ok so the story goes… I received one of these brews in my #tastingleague Monthly Mixed Case from League of Beers (or Yuppiechef. I still can’t get used to that. Anyway.) and I was so excited to try a South African brewed “Belgian Ale”. As you might know, I’m a big fan of Belgian brews; they’re complex, bold and generally it only takes one to induce some tipsyness :-p.

So when I poured it out and had a sniff, a swirl, a taste (rinse and repeat) I was…. disappointed to say the least. I was getting all the wrong aromas and flavours. I actually poured it into my garden after about a third and went to bed grumpy. But not before also posting on Untappd and Twitter that I just didn’t enjoy this one. That is something I rarely do but I felt strongly about it.

Not 10 minutes later, I got a mail from Michelle from Anker Brew apologising profusely for my experience with the beer and offering to send a replacement. She admitted that it could have been a bad bottle based on what I was describing.
Lesson 1: It doesn’t matter how bad you think your experience was, good customer service and quick feedback from the brewery makes everything better. I was so impressed with Michelle. 5 days later I received not only a replacement, but a seriously awesome gift pack (below) complete with 2 new brews and a branded glass, score! I love drinking out of glassware that the brewers have chosen or designed for their beer.

Ok so admittedly, it’s taken me a little while to try the new brews. Maybe I was scared… I’m not sure. But I finally cracked one open and can give you the low down:

The colour is firmly copper with some light white foamy head. It lingers, but not fully. On first sniff  it’s all lager – some bready notes along with some slight grass. But with a bit of a swirl it releases some of the caramel. It’s generally malty – as is the flavour profile. There is definite caramel malt prominence but with some interesting black pepper in there. There is also a hint of spice and a some fruit sweetness. At first, it finishes quite dry and satisfyingly bitter, but after it’s warmed a bit the lingering sweetness pulls through to the end. In fact, I’d recommend that you try this one a little warmer than you’re used to. It really does the beer a favour.

Now look. It’s NOT a Belgian {Strong Golden} Ale in the way that a La Chouffe, La Trappe or Achel produce. Honestly that is my biggest criticism. But… along with my gift pack was a “spec sheet” for the beer and it matches exactly to that. The description talks about it being more characteristic of a lager with subtle hops that make it easily accessible. And honestly, I can’t argue with that. So my other criticism is that the intended flavours and aromas are not explained upfront (as in, on the bottle). For those of us who love (and are used to) a “typical” Belgian Ales, that sort of explanation could really frame the beer properly. For those just getting into craft beer, give this one a shot – it’ll open your mind to the more purist Belgian styles.

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