Anchor Brewing Co. coined the term “Zymaster” in 2012 to label a series of unique beers released throughout the following years. The term combines the words “Zymurgy” and “Brewmaster” to describe a brewer “with hands-on experience throughout the a-to-z process of creating a new beer – from the research and selection of the raw materials and development of a recipe, to brewing, fermentation, cellaring, and finishing.”
The purpose of the Zymaster Series is to give drinkers “something to look forward to, a way for drinkers to see what’s next on the Anchor beer horizon,” says Dave Burkhart, Anchor Historian. Now on their eighth beer, the series has been a great success. Though we haven’t had a chance to try any of the previous seven due to limited availability and our geographical distance from Anchor, when we heard that the eighth was a Luxardo Cherry Ale, we knew we had to try it.
You see, here at KegWorks, we’re all about Luxardo Maraschino cherries – whether we’re using them to garnish cocktails, using the syrup for a special drink, throwing them into a dessert recipe, or just snacking in the office. But we’d never had a Luxardo Cherry Ale. That piqued our interest for sure.
Here’s how Anchor made it: “Rather than dry-hopping this ale, we age Zymaster 8 on a bed of these magnificent cherries. The result is a uniquely complex brew that offers the perfect balance between sweetness and tartness, with depth of flavor, tantalizing aroma, ruddy complexion, and a luxuriantly dry finish.” Sounds awesome, right? That’s why we had to try it.
Now, because we sell Luxardo Maraschino Cherries on our website, we have a relationship with the exclusive US distributor. That distributor happens to be Anchor Brewing Co. So we reached out to our friends over there, told them we’d heard about the beer, and we wanted to give it a try. Two weeks later, a package arrived with six bottles of this sweet nectar.
Here’s what we thought…
Quick disclaimer before you read my review: If you’ve never had a Luxardo Cherry, then it’s important that you understand these are not the kind of cherries you find in mundane mixed drinks at the corner bar. (Don’t believe me? Try one.) And I know there are plenty of people out there who stand in firm opposition to mixing fruit with beer. But as the Luxardo Cherry is a cut above the rest, this ale is also superior when compared to most fruity beers, in my humble opinion of course.
Now, let’s get into it…
As you can see, we used a standard pint glass, and the beer poured really well out of the bottle. It left a fairly small head, but a quick swish after a few sips brings it right back up. The maroonnish, mahogany color definitely made me think of cherries.
The aroma was rich, malty, and smelled slightly of cherries, but it wasn’t overpowering.
Moderate carbonation, crisp, and fairly full bodied.
The beer was dry, but not too dry. I tasted a bit of oak and bready malt, but that dissipated shortly after swallowing, leaving me with a slightly tart, dry finish. Again, the taste was not overly fruity, but the aftertaste felt like when you finish a cherry and taste the remnants of its skin.
If you like a full, malty beer with a bit of fruit flavor, you would love this the Zymaster Cherry Ale. I was a bit apprehensive going in to be honest, as I don’t like my beers to be overly fruity, but I think Anchor did a stellar job balancing the flavors.
Big thanks to the guys at Anchor for sending this our way, and for those interested (and able to find it), the beer is available in California through the end of this month. For more on the Zymaster series, check out the Anchor webiste. And for those of you ready to give Luxardo Maraschino Cherries a try, check out all of our Luxardo options here. If you do end up getting your hands on some, or you’ve had it already, let us know what you thought in the comments below or on our Facebook page.