Questioning the Wisdom

Posted on 02.14.10 8:55PM under Brewing, Tasting

My Glass of Anchor Christmas 2007Maybe I have become too confident. Maybe it’s boredom… I just don’t know what inspired me to try to copy a beer that I don’t even really like all that much. I mean Anchor’s Our Special Ale is a true American classic, released once a year in time for the holidays, and somewhat different each year. Time after time it’s basically a black beer with trees added to it. I’ve written about it before, and I’ve liked it, but these days, this is not exactly my kind of thing. However, it is a classic, so I always get at least one sixer, just to have it.

One time, I think it was December of 2008, approaching the start of my third year of brewing, I got the idea that OSA was really pretty similar to what you’d get if you took a porter and used a Bavarian wheat beer yeast to ferment it.

In the year since then, I’ve convinced myself more and more that this combination of common ingredients would do a damn fine job of approximating the experience of the OSA, with no special exotic tree additions needed.

This thought became so overwhelming that I had to finally try it. I had a packet of WB-06, some black grains, and some porter-friendly hops. It seemed the perfect time to try this crazy idea, and put to rest forever the question of whether Anchor’s OSA was basically a porter made with wheat beer yeast.

Now the beer is in the keg, and fully carbonated, and I’ve been going at it for a few days. I haven’t yet bought a reference sample of OSA, so I’ll leave that comparison for a future follow-up. But I can say that at this point I would not recommend this combination of ingredients.

I don’t know if I’m just sick of black beer, wishing for warmer weather. I don’t know if I am just not that into the clove flavor and aroma of the WB-06. I don’t know if it’s just the comparison to my favorite IPA bursting with Amarillo hop goodness in the other keg. I don’t know if it’s some combination of all of the above. All I know is that I am just not loving this beer. It’s not that it’s got any specific defect or off-flavor, it actually came out technically quite well. It’s just that the flavor profile is not hitting me where it counts. I just don’t like the recipe.

I will have to try the real OSA and see if I came even close. That could help me see this beer for its true worth. And I harvested the yeast to reuse in a normal wheat beer, just to see how it works in there. But for now, I’m not shy about working my way through “My Special Ale” in a hasty manner.

Comments are closed.