Caught by the River

Pint by the River – Titanic Anchor 4.1%

10th April 2010

Last year, Jeff, Andrew and myself sat out on the back stoop of the Dove doing our usual thing – drinking a few pints of foaming nut brown ale while concocting plans of what we could or should attempt next. We’ve always liked talking about beer. Liked drinking it a bit more than that if truth be told. So we thought we’d start a CBTR beer section. An ongoing conversation about ale, if you will. Hopefully it’ll be sporadic yet seasonal, informative yet slightly sozzled. It’ll be a bit like that conversation we had that day in fact.

Titanic Anchor 4.1% by Ben McCormick

Naming your company after a disaster cliché known the world over is a risky enterprise at best, but it’s paid dividends for this Staffordshire brewery. Titanic has been making beer in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent since 1985 and now produces almost two million pints of ale every year. Enough to sink a luxury cruise liner.

Its Anchor ale weighs in at a spritely 4.1% and is a deep copper-coloured wonder of a beer that takes smoothness to levels hitherto only known by poeple with voices like Barry White’s.

What I know about the brewery could be written on the back of a soggy beermat, but everything the beer offers can be gleaned within the first couple of sips. It has a beautiful caramel flavour that mingles with nutty undertones and a sweet, langourous finish that only turns nasty at the end. And by nasty, I mean slightly tart, which is no bad thing for what is, after all, a bitter.

There’s a disappointing blandness about it, though, which is down to the way it’s served. In this pub, anyway. For this is Manchester and they use a sprinkler to impart a head, as is the tradition in these parts. This means the beer is forced at high speed and pressure through a tiny, sieve-like device attached to the pump, robbing it of its nuances and foibles in the process. Doubtless the method was designed to disguise badly kept beer or something. The result is homogenous brown liquid that purports to be real ale but is essentially pumelled to within an inch of its life.

Once allowed to settle, however, Titanic’s Anchor is a different proposition. The caramels are backed up by some terrific fruitiness and a decidedly more rounded flavour. The finish drifts off like a disinterested child. Buit it’s midstream where this beer comes alive. Peaks of tangy citrus and troughs of teacly caramel joust for dominance, while the merest nudge of mushroom soup lingers in the background ready to pick off the eventual victor. Several moments later, the duel subsides, but the aftermath of this epic tussle cannot be swept away easily.

In sum, it’s called Titanic Anchor and it goes down as its name would suggest.