Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Hops

To celebrate International Beer Day we present a story from our upcoming MarketScale ‘American Craft’ series is showcasing some of the nation’s top craft breweries to discover how they disrupted a market long dominated by international conglomerates. This is the story of of Fritz Maytag and Anchor Brewing led the way in the hop revolution in the 1970’s by brewing what was at the time, the hoppiest beer in the world.

Liberty Pale Ale

In the late 1960s, Anchor Brewing was resurrected by Fritz Maytag, who purchased the brewery on a whim in order to keep drinking his favorite beer. Anchor had become known to be inconsistent in taste, and Maytag very famously took a microscope to study the beer on a chemical level to determine the root of the issue. This attention to detail not only saved the brand but led to its growth as one of America’s most successful craft breweries.

As the mid-1970s approached, the United States was eagerly anticipating its Bicentennial. To celebrate the occasion, Maytag released Liberty Ale, Anchor’s first India Pale Ale (IPA).

 

On April 18, 1975, Liberty Ale was born, inspired by the lost English technique of dry hopping that resulted in the making of India Pale Ales.

“Brewers discovered that shoving an additional dose of hops into the cask after the initial brewing phase would preserve beer for a long journey,” Anchor’s current brewmaster Scott Ungermann said.

Brewers have brought this method back because of the ability to add hops into the aroma without negatively affecting the taste.

Maytag’s goal to “brew an English beer and bring it to America but brew it in a distinctly American style” revealed a new flavor complexion to the American public. It has significantly grown in popularity since.

Liberty’s use of Cascade hops was also significant because it was not introduced to the nation until 1971.  These hops are distinctive because they produce a floral and slightly bitter beer, a stark contrast from lager beers of the day.

In fact, this hop was so different from what major beer producers targeted in their recipes at the time that many sought to destroy the hop altogether. Craft brewers had different ambitions though.

“Once home brewers got a hold of Liberty Ale and tasted how hoppy it was, they started to create their own hoppy Pale Ales and started playing around with what was possible,” Ungermann said.

Liberty ale and Cascade hops will always be linked together not only because of the beer’s recipe, but because of the IPA and craft boom they spawned more than 40 years ago.

On MarketScale’s American Craft podcast, take a step into Anchor Brewing’s fermentation room and learn how a company twice on its deathbed has become among the largest and most profitable craft breweries in the world.

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