A story of Anchor’s Liberty Ale and the little hop that could, Cascade!

A few days ago I did a Quick Sip review of this beer over on the Queen City Drinks Facebook page. If you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet now is a great time to do it so you can keep up to date on the quick sip reviews. I enjoyed this beer so thoroughly that I felt compelled to give it a full blog post especially because of the significant history in this beer.

In the far distant past of the mid 1960s the American craft beer scene was… well non-existent. Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco had gone through a number of owners throughout the years until Fritz Maytag (of the washing machine family) bought the place up in 1965. By the mid 1970s there was a craft beer scene and there was a lot of preparation for America’s bicentennial.

Almost every brewery was working on something special for July 4th, 1976 but Fritz didn’t want to get lost in the wash (intentional pun) of competition so he opted to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride. To do this they created their Liberty Ale which used something new and relatively unheard of at the time, an American hop by the name of Cascade.

There were some hops grown in America but they were mostly bittering hops and the aroma hops were coming from England or Germany. That changed when a USDA researched created hop 56013. Hop 56013 would, in 1972 be first used by Coors, and eventually be called Cascade, and as of this week became the second most grown hop in America.

Fritz Maytag discovered this hop and decided it was what would make his Liberty Ale stand out as the first American craft beer to use cascades and the first american craft IPA. That decision is the proverbial butterfly wing beat that created a tidal wave of Cascade use in almost all American craft pale ales and India pale ales.

Great history and all but is this beer actually any good? Liberty Ale is a delicious 6% IPA with a superbly bountiful aroma of citrus and flowers owed entirely to the little hop that could, Cascade. If you’ve got yard work to do or a grill out to go to this summer I strongly advise picking up a six pack of this to enjoy! It should be available at any better beer store this summer, or any time of year.


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