It was on June 26, 1975, a Thursday, that the Anchor Brewing Company first bottled its Liberty Ale. In The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, I call Liberty Ale “quite possibly the most important beer of the late twentieth century.”
Why? Because Liberty Ale, the first American craft beer to use an American-developed aroma hop (the now-ubiquitous Cascade), became the common ancestor for American-style pale ales and India pale ales. Some consider it the archetypal American IPA, in fact, and others see it (rightfully) as the boldest beer commercially produced up to that point.
Why was it bold? The Cascade hops for one thing, which gave it a citrusy taste and a floral bouquet. For another, the bitterness: Liberty Ale was several times the bitterness of Miller Lite, which had also been introduced in 1975 and which was on its way to transforming the world beer market (for the worse). It was an exclamation point in the story of American—of world—beer, a concoction so against the grain that it didn’t seem like it could work (Fritz Maytag himself had to be convinced to release Liberty Ale commercially).
It worked, though, starting with those 530 cases bottled on June 26, 1975. Bitter beers continue to sweep the marketplace and bitterness is what American craft brewers are most known for the world over (to the point where there’s even a bitterness backlash). You still have time: Have a Liberty Ale today.
Also: Check out Anchor historian Dave Burkhart‘s story of the Liberty Ale label.
· A Revolutionary Label for a Revolutionary Beer [Anchor]
· How Did We Get to the Point of Hops as ‘Pointless Gimmick’? [TomAcitelli.com]