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The arrival today of a 180-gram reissue of Funkadelic’s 1970 tripster classic Free Your Mind…and Your Ass Will Follow made me dig deep into the fridge, and I pulled out a tubby 22-ounce bottle of No. 6 Saaremaa Island Ale, apparently release No. 6 in Anchor Brewing’s Zymaster Series. Yup, that sounded just about right for getting down to Funkadelic’s second studio album.
Between Eddie Hazell’s trippy guitar licks, Bernie Worrell’s spine-tingling keyboards and George Clinton’s raps, I sipped curiously at this malty ale and wondered what’s it all about, Alfie.
In smaller type on the label it says this is “an Estonian-style Beer Journey.” OK. Now I know where I am.
On the neck label I learn that Zymaster is a word coined by Anchor to describe a true brewmaster as one who knows the styles enough to replicate any style with his or her own refreshing stamp on that style.
This beer in the series was created by Anchor brewer Mark Carpenter, and is based on his tasting of native ale while visiting the Estonian island of Saaremaa in the Baltic Sea. This is a pale ale brewed with the same yeast used on Saaremaa, which is what I believe gives it its unique tangy, herbal flavor. Carpenter talks about his Estonian-style beer journey here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5LokeNY5C4
That maltiness I mentioned earlier gives this beer a sweetness that is common to other pale Baltics I’ve had, and I’ve had a fair share of Baltic beers in general. A favorite old liquor store used to sell big Baltic beers for a buck 99. Who could say no to that? The sweetness always verges on cloying, expecially (as the third ex-wife used to say), if you concentrate on how sweet it is.
Not to be sucked into that void, I went in search of the hops, and, yes, there they are, putting a crooked little smile in my mouth. I wondered for a moment if the hop bite is out of place here as I tried to remember my last Estonian pale ale.
And then I took another sip and realized it doesn’t matter. This here is as close as you are going to get to the real thing without having the real thing (and good luck finding it for a buck 99!). In other words, this is a classic craft beer take on a classic style of beer. Good job! Hoist an Anchor!