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Anchor Small Beer - Anchor Brewing Company

Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

419 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 419
Reviews: 319
rAvg: 3.11
pDev: 18.01%

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  3.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
"We believe you will find Anchor Small Beer delicious--similar to what modern brewers call a "bitter"--and we hope you will also enjoy the idea of reviving an ancient brewing tradition, which is something of great importance. "

"We make our Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale from the rich first runnings of an all-malt mash, and Anchor Small Beer is our attempt to duplicate the "small beers" of old by sparging that same mash: sprinkling warm water over the Old Foghorn mash after the first wort has run off, thereby creating a second, lighter brew from the resulting thinner wort. "

(Beer added by: UnionMade on 11-11-2000)
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Ratings: 419 | Reviews: 319 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of JGam115

New York

2.91/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From my Untappd history.

A: Poured a tanned-straw color with a fluffy white head. Good start.

S: Didn't get much from this beer, and I thought it was served a bit too cold which made picking up the aromas harder. I could piece out some bready malts which was expected. It wasn't overwhelming though.

T: Your standard run-of-the-mill Bitter without any memorable properties. Again, I blame this on the temp in which it was served. I tried warming it up with my own hands, but that didn't improve the qualities that much.

M: Didn't coat as much as I would have expected. The malt was there, but not as much as I would have liked for a Bitter.

O: Not too memorable. I'd still encourage people to try it to form their own opinions, but I'm a BIG fan of malt characteristics in my beer. This one was off the mark in that department even though it is a Bitter.

Serving type: on-tap

05-14-2013 13:38:40 | More by JGam115
Photo of smakawhat


3.83/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a snifter glass.

A very lager like appearance, crystal clear and clean with a very pale amber gold, simple white collar presented with some pretty good lacing also.

Nose is toasty but also quite a bit grainy, nearly sour. However, it's arid and dry quality seems to make up for it.

Taste is quite toasty, with a huge toasty finish particularly on the palate. A real nice lingering hop bitterness too on the drink and dry matching a light and very crisp body.

Excellent session brew. Small beer with big taste indeed, can see myself enjoying many of these at a time if needed.

Serving type: on-tap

08-01-2012 00:27:09 | More by smakawhat
Photo of nickd717


2.65/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Review dated 6/26/2009. Tap at the brewery. Not a favorite.

Golden color with a white head.

Aroma is malty and grainy with slight hops.

Flavor more of the same, light and malty with grains and some slightly metallic hop bitterness on the finish.

Palate light and somewhat watery.

Pretty run-of-the-mill overall. I’ll take an Old Foghorn instead.

Serving type: on-tap

08-26-2011 20:34:25 | More by nickd717
Photo of david18

New York

3.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had a sixteen ounce draft of this at Todd English P.U.B in Las Vegas. I don't think I disliked this as much as many others but I wasn't overly impressed either. I would like to find a beer that low in alcohol that I enjoyed a lot.

Color was very light, almost American Adjunct light with a small yet active head.

Aroma was somewhat hoppy, but it certainly wasn't like an English bitter.

Flavor was ok, not great but not terrible. Some hops, a little malt, etc.

Overall it was ok but if I want to go low in alcohol I'm much more likely to ask for one of my favorite Pilsners.

Serving type: on-tap

04-18-2011 19:48:29 | More by david18
Photo of mactrail


2.45/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Coors Light with an overdose of hops.

Very light in every way except slight amber hint to the color. No apparent malt in the first taste, and if there is any odor it is lost on me. Hops are surprisingly intense. It's like an IPA seriously watered down. Very bitter with unpleasant aftertaste like cheap toothpaste.

If this were a non-alcoholic beer, I'd give it some applause. But it's not anything like a creditable English Mild either. Served in what appears to be a soda-fountain fluted glass at the Small Bar in San Diego. Served icy cold, which didn't seem to make it any more palatable.

Serving type: on-tap

04-06-2011 05:47:34 | More by mactrail
Photo of beagle75


3.48/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Draft pour into a shaker pint glass at Beachwood BBQ.

A: Clear, light amber color with over one finger of diminishing white foam head. Moderate lacing remains on the glass and clusters of submerged bubbles cling to the wall of the glass, rising occasionally as individuals.

S: Husky pilsner malt is featured in this beer's generally mild scent that is clean, but leaves little impact on the senses.

T: Begins dry, with crisp grassy hops and bright acidity that becomes more intense as the beer warms. A fair amount of bitterness develops in the middle alongside substantial toasted malt that carries through into the finish, leaving an impression of wheat heavy on the palate.

M: Thin viscosity, acidic on the palate but coating in the finish, with moderate carbonation.

D: While this beer is certainly attractively low in alcohol, it is able to deliver surprisingly intense malt-focused flavor whose bright acidity is most appealing in the presence of some of our favorite everyday foods. Its flavor profile is more like a helles lager--or its steam beer older sibling--than a bitter. The acidity can come across as harsh, and the smell is a let-down, but otherwise this is a beer that ought to be more common than it is.

Serving type: on-tap

04-02-2011 13:24:10 | More by beagle75
Photo of msubulldog25


3.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 10 oz. pour, served at Bailey's Taproom.

A: Mostly clear complexion, golden-honey color. Bubbles rise sporadically, wriggle lazily upward. Fine lace, draping sheets that fall with a creamy near-white creamy head, 1/2 finger at its peak, fading to a gauzy film.

S: Malt scent, but underwhelming in its lightness and simplicity. I know this is second runnings from a bigger beer, but only the vaguest waves of toasted grain (nutty) and the cereal sweetness of boiling wort.

T: Likable doughy malt, although rather bland even for the style. Along with grains, there apple flesh and a twist of citrus peel, before drier bitterness - fine at first then becoming more mineral/sharp. A little surprising that this isn't sweeter.

M: Good crispness and cleanness, a light-medium mouthfeel with a modest effervescence.

D: Very much the 'sessionable' ale, light and easy enough on the palate and the sobriety. A basic mild/ESB, but certainly drinkable enough. Something makes me wish that pints of small beers like this were a bit cheaper, but I can't complain because there's still plenty of craft going into them (heck, with that logic, non-alcoholic beers would cost pennies). Pretty good stuff.

Serving type: on-tap

02-27-2011 01:19:17 | More by msubulldog25
Photo of KyleMWood


2.2/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Strange beer, not what I expected at all when I ordered it. VERY VERY dry. Also, an off smell that wasn't appealing. However, very drinkable, it could be a session beer if it actually had better flavor and smell, not much there (as the name suggests). I like the idea, but I don't think Anchor pulled it off.

Serving type: on-tap

12-12-2009 20:52:10 | More by KyleMWood
Photo of MrHungryMonkey


3.65/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nose is fruity - grape, apple - with floral hop and soft herb, slight sourness. Smells good.

Pours clear gold with moderate head. Looks pretty good.

Impressively bitter with lots of toasty grain. Bright hops, herbal with lots of floral. Soft malt. Overall quite dry. Some honeysuckle in finish. Moderate carbonation. Tastes pretty good. Feel good. Pretty good drinkability.

Comes across as a stiff English Pale. Pretty good.

Serving type: on-tap

11-07-2009 20:52:04 | More by MrHungryMonkey
Photo of armock

New York

1.55/5  rDev -50.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

A - Poured a golden color with a white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of sweet malt and mild hops

T - Wow this stuff is bad its like drinking rotten malt not good at all

M - This beer has a lighter body with higher carbonation to it

D - I was only able to drink half of the pint before giving up and asking for a new beer that I knew I'd like this beer just isn't wort it

Serving type: on-tap

09-10-2009 23:57:51 | More by armock
Photo of champ103


3.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear dark amber color. A one finger white head forms and recedes to a ring in an instant. Some sticky lace is left behind.
S: A fruity citrusy and banana aroma at first. A soft malty presents. A light hop bitterness as well. Subtle and well balanced.
T: A soft malty flavor, very light. Grain and cereal. Just as you think the flavor vanishes, a hop bitterness come out of no where.
M/D: A light body, but not over carbonated at all. Crisp and refreshing. It does not get much easier to drink. A session all day long.

I did not have high hopes for this, but not bad. Not something I am going to get again, but I found it drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

08-25-2009 01:15:55 | More by champ103
Photo of illidurit


3.33/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery. Gold with a hint of orange and a white fluffy head. Nice lacing and retention. Aromas of fresh bread and cereal grains. Flavor is fresh and pale malty, with a touch of grassy hop bitterness in the finish. Smooth and crisp. A simple but effective beer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-30-2008 08:11:57 | More by illidurit
Photo of JDV


3.43/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery in S.F. Not their best beer, but for the style and a mere 110 calories per serving, this is basically a light beer, and the best one I've had as far as that goes. Smell of some sweetness and whole grain. Taste is definitely slightly light, but similar to the smell. Light, but still fairly flavorful for what it is. A great lighter drinkable beer.

Serving type: on-tap

02-02-2008 23:24:35 | More by JDV
Photo of Natural510


2.33/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This was quite disappointing, definitely the worst I've tasted from the Anchor camp thus far. Served on-tap, this had a nice light copper color and decent head. The only flavors I could decipher, however, were bitterness with a sour note. It had the bite of an IPA without the richer flavor or complexity of notes.
As someone else stated, it was close to undrinkable...something I never thought I'd say about an Anchor product. But after a few sips, I truly wanted to dump it and order something else.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2007 21:08:38 | More by Natural510
Photo of tjd25


3.33/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at the brewery.
Nice foamy head, dense and creamy on a golden yellow color body. The smell was malty and even a bit worty with a wet boiling character. The taste was crisp with a hoppy finish getting a little grassy and chey. Light hints of lemon. Clean, pilsner like, but a bit boring.

Serving type: on-tap

06-27-2005 16:32:35 | More by tjd25
Photo of donnebaby

North Carolina

3.93/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Active gold body and a poofy uneven fluff head...but thick. Nose is weak, no doubt there.

The total taste is an awesomely flavorful bitterness that hits as soon as the excellent level of carbonation recedes. Aftertaste of faint toasted grains comes in nice.

Clean, perfect beer--but not even too refined either. Interesting yet normal, normal but interesting. Something about it is just never shallow..

Serving type: on-tap

09-08-2004 23:57:41 | More by donnebaby
Photo of Mark


4/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have always been curious about this beer and I actually tried it at the breweries tasting room. Color is amber with a decent white head. Faint rings of lace are left. Fresh aroma is really at the same time kind on non descript. Crisp fresh taste that is almost lager like, good finish, decent hopping. I had heard it was supposed to be English bittier like, but this is a mysterious brew. I ranked the taste as good, because it tasted good. Refreshing and drinkable.

Serving type: on-tap

02-14-2004 16:39:41 | More by Mark
Photo of draheim


3.34/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle into a tulip. Pours a crystal clear honey color w/ a nice white head, some good lacing. Looks nice.

Aroma is lightly malty and floral. Crackery pale crystal malt and a mild hop presence.

Taste is fruity and light, lots of toasted grain hits the palate. Some good hoppy bitterness on the finish but the focus here is on the barley. Floral and semi-sweet.

Mouthfeel is crisp and light with a prickly bite. A little thin, to be expected from a 3.3% beer.

Overall an OK session beer. Not one I'd crave very often but a nice change of pace.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2013 02:04:03 | More by draheim
Photo of FPWolff


3.28/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It tastes okay. It's like West Coast homebrew. Kind of like Bitterwater. Not great. I'm just talking to use up space now. It wouldn't let me submit my review without posting a comment. I need to get 250 characters. I probably wouldn't pick to have this beer again, but I think people are little too harsh on it.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2013 02:50:46 | More by FPWolff
Photo of TMoney2591


3.03/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

I had to get rid of the last bottle on the shelf, so I might as well buy it myself. This stuff pours a clear tawny-amber topped by a finger of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises faint old sourdough and what may or may not be a hint grass, depending on whether or not I'm actually just smelling the air outside somehow. The taste pretty much echoes the smell, though now it's just generic barley and generic white bread yeast combining to form the most milquetoast of all possible flavors. I'd knock it, but it's not offensive, just insanely boring and undistinguished. The body is pretty light, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta/kinda crisp finish. Overall, this may be one of the blandest beers outside of the BMC arena. It's not bad, per se, just something I'd likely easily forget that I'd imbibed on any given day, especially if anything else happened that day, beer- or otherwise.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2013 19:06:50 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of joemcgrath27

Alberta (Canada)

2.81/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

A - clear pale golden with a respectable off white head that dissipated down to a half finger
S - grainy with a fairly strong astringent metallic aroma
T - very astringent and strong metallic to its detriment, some pale grainy malt, but overall it definitley tastes like this was an afterthought of sorts
M - very light, medium to mild carbonation, with a somewhat off putting chemical like bitterness
O - not something I would buy again, interesting to consider the 'second run' idea but in the end I feel like this was a just an easy/cheap way to put something out that beer geeks would buy once

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2013 04:11:49 | More by joemcgrath27
Photo of snaotheus


3.8/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 or 22oz bottle poured into a large mug

Pours pretty, slightly hazy golden with a big head and lots of carbonation. Smell is smell is adjunct lager. Smells like a hefty Budweiser. Sour and tangy.

Taste is sweet up front, but surprisingly bitter afterward. I'm surprised to find I kind of like this. It tastes very lagery to me, and I don't spend a lot of time drinking lagers. I have trouble identifying exactly what I like about it.

Mouthfeel is light and dry. Overall, I think it's pretty good.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2013 03:41:01 | More by snaotheus
Photo of GarthDanielson

North Carolina

3.25/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a bright, crystal clear copper-orange coloring with a thin, white ring of film on the surface. Aromas of roast, toffee, and a subtle, tangy hops presence. Flavors are heavily roasted, with a very bitter, astringent hops character. Very sharp on the initial tongue. The malt backbone literally gets buried amongst the bitter and astringent characteristics. Tangy, roasty aftertaste, with a dry, bitter finish. Very interesting idea behind the beer, but the flavors just don't seem to meld or balance well.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2013 03:22:53 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of flagmantho


3.6/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle into a dimpled mug.

Appearance: medium orange hue with a touch of haze and a robust effervescence. Head poured a finger of frothy ivory foam, but this is dissipating somewhat rapidly. Still, a nice looking beer.

Smell: sweet malt with plenty of graininess. A little dose of bitey hops is also present. Not too bad.

Taste: light malt with a citrusy hop character. Bitterness at the end is quite moderate, although balanced considering the low alcohol and relatively low sweetness of this brew. There is a sense that this beer is watered-down, but for a 3.3% ABV second-runnings beer, it's not bad at all.

Mouthfeel: light bodied but the big carbonation makes up for some of this. Nicely, if ephemerally, creamy.

Overall: this may not be the greatest beer in the world, but it is quaffable and refreshing and I like its parti-gyle nature. I'd love to have this on draft sometime for a long session.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2012 20:40:13 | More by flagmantho
Photo of Spikester


3.45/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear pale copper with one finger of white head that drops to a ring about one third of the way down. Dense tight bubble lacing lasts about the same distance.
Smell is mostly fruity hops with a trace of malts.
Taste is bitter hops, earthy, some citrus.
Mouthfeel is alright for something this light. Good carbonation with a semi dry bitter finish.
Not enough malt for the English Bitter grouping but for a watered down Foghorn and in view of the very low abv. this is quite good.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2012 03:03:38 | More by Spikester
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Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 419 ratings.