When Fritz Maytag sold Anchor Steam in 2010, it was not clear what direction the brewery would go. In hindsight, the there's been a substantial creative effort to keep the brand and beers relevant (distilling as well; their Junipero gin is a wonderful go-to), and this has included a seasonal update of the classic Anchor Steam Beer:
Anchor Steam has always been a classic local beer with a distinctive malty flavor and unique use of Northern Brewer Hops. I have run into a few people who like this beer just the way it is and have no interest in trying the new recipe. I like the traditional malty flavor as well and am I'm always looking for it on tap when dining out. Although it dates to the the 1800's, I think the current recipe has been in place since 1971. It's the most unique and most traditional beer as I can find in the SF Bay area.
The Dry-Hopped update is well thought-out, first by moving the ABV from 4.9% to 5.4% and then making it slightly more bitter. It clear that Anchor Brewing is exploring how to keep relevant in a changing market, and that their Liberty Ale, which is a great dry-hopped beer, has really not taken off and is sometimes hard to find. This update still has the familiar flavor of an Anchor Steam, but with the dry-hop addition of Cascade and "American Dwarf Hop Association No. 484", it is really a new beer. The familiar flavor is there but more subdued as the hop additions stand out. No idea what that last hop is.
I like it quite a bit and find it well balanced. It's now more appropriate to serve in a glass than the bottle. In looking for comparisons, it makes me think of some of the various seasonal pale ales put out by Green Flash. If I could find this fresh and on tap somewhere, I'd not pass it up.