1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Anchor Small Beer - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
72
okay

435 Ratings
THE BROS
70
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 435
Reviews: 322
rAvg: 3.11
pDev: 18.01%
Wants: 17
Gots: 10 | FT: 0
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Anchor Small Beer Alström Bros
Ratings: 435 | Reviews: 322 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ppoitras
3.13/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle purchased at The Spirit Haus, Amherst, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" white head above the dirty gold brew. Head is dense and lasts reasonably well, and lacing is average. Aroma is upfront with sweet maltiness, and then coupled with some nondescript hops character. Taste tries to follow the nose, but the malt doesn't have a chance to be enjoyed before the bitterness with a slight citric quality moves in and takes over. Mouthfeel is kind of rough with that bitterness being so dominant, and drinkability is just as limited. Will not be revisiting this one.

As I noted with Heavyweight's Gruit awhile back, I can appreciate what a brewer may be trying to do with a particular style or a novel process, but I don't have to like it. This one just doesn't make the grade, esp for an Anchor product.

ppoitras, Jan 15, 2005
Photo of Mebuzzard
3.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is absolutely gorgeous. Clear golden, amber color topped with a fluffy, white head that chunks up to looking like home-made ice cream. Sticky.

Aroma is rather weak. A touch of biscuit and leather, mostly sharp yet faint hops and phenolic.

Flavors are weak and straight, but not bad. Some biscuit and buttery hops. Mostly all I taste, really, is the feel. Quite a sharp bite to it. Hinges on sourness, but this beer is bitter. Wow. Wouldn't know it from the look...whatever that means.

OK drinkability. I had a 22oz-er. A pint would have been perfect.

Mebuzzard, Jun 19, 2009
Photo of BillRoth
3/5  rDev -3.5%

BillRoth, Oct 21, 2013
Photo of brandoman63
3.25/5  rDev +4.5%

brandoman63, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of biegaman
2.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Nice big 650ml bottle, pours with great big head, pearly white in colour. Sits over top of a caramel orange, completely transparent, body. Aroma very sketchy (a term I've never used with beer). Diacetyl and general unpleasantness. Aftertaste of hops, but flavour bordering gross. Flat, stale malts, some offputting wheat maybe. Distasteful. Sorry to hear this is run offs of the Old Foghorn, because I wouldn't place this along side that, or any of the other Anchor beers (all of which I've tried). Just not all that good. Thanks though Harry!

biegaman, Mar 02, 2007
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.

smakawhat, Aug 01, 2012
Photo of rab53
3/5  rDev -3.5%

rab53, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of plaid75
3.43/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a slightly hazy light copper hue with a one and a half finger foamy white head. There was good retention and decent lacing.

The smell featured a light malt and grassy hop.

The taste consisted of an upfront spicy hop that was slightly tempered by a light grainy malt.

The mouthfeel was toward the lighter side of the style.

Overall a light and refreshing ale that lacks a real depth in flavor. Pretty cool that this is essentially Old Foghorn light.

plaid75, Jul 26, 2008
Photo of Latarnik
3.25/5  rDev +4.5%

Latarnik, May 30, 2014
Photo of Kelp
3.25/5  rDev +4.5%

Kelp, Jan 17, 2014
Photo of sendbeer
3.25/5  rDev +4.5%

sendbeer, Oct 22, 2012
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Good looking pour for a beer that is reused wort, amber, very sticky head. Aroma is pretty nil.

Taste, very easy drinking, slightly bitter and very slight hopping. Super sessiony. Gotta appreciate the relative uniqueness of this beer. Waste not want not. Extremely light mouthfeel, but that's pretty much by design.

Pretty unique, I'd keep one around for when you want to drink an Old Foghorn, and your old lady/sissy friend wants to drink to, but you don't wanna hear about how your barleywine is "nasty".

Beerandraiderfan, Nov 03, 2010
Photo of DrJay
3.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Crystal clear light amber with a half inch cap of light beige foam. Sticky lace, good head retention. Sulfury, floral hops, bit of biscuit, mostly hops though. Light bitterness with very light malt, not much sweetness, and a bit of floral hops, light lemon. Light bodied, dry, a little rough with the moderate carbonation, but not too bad. Not bad for a lighter beer, fairly drinkable.

DrJay, Jun 14, 2009
Photo of harpus
3.25/5  rDev +4.5%

harpus, Aug 17, 2012
Photo of GarthDanielson
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.

GarthDanielson, Feb 14, 2013
Photo of Derek
3.55/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear bronze with a huge, fluffy white head, good retention & lace. How do they do it... is it the hop oils?

S: Floral, steelie grass and a bit of San Francisco sour dough bread.

T: Quite hop forward, very steelie and floral; hints of grainy astringency dance with the hop acidity and modest bitterness.

M: Light to moderate body has a light hop acidity and a crisp finish with a hint of tartness.

D: A refreshing summer brew.

Very few brewers use the second runnings. From a historical and environmental point of view I like it. Today this is a very unique brew, which is tough to judge by style... but I'd happily session it in the summer heat.

Derek, Aug 31, 2011
Photo of Gusler
3.33/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Been almost 3 years since I had one of the "Bad Boys", guess its about time. Clear deep gold in color, generous white head, and oodles of lace. Nose is mostly malt, clean and citrus crisp. Front is malt and lightly sweet, top skimpy in feel. Finish is perkily hopped, meaningful carbonation, dry as a bone aftertaste.
With the crack down and rightfully so on drunk driving and drivers, would it not be a great time to offer “Small Beers”. Not the light swill macro stuff, but bodacious ones like Anchors at 2.3% ABV, a great session beer that satisfies the thirst and the need for a great beer.

Gusler, Jan 07, 2003
Photo of Brad007
3.13/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mild amber color with a one-finger head into my pint glass.

Aroma is sweet with a hint of hop bitterness in the nose. Seems pretty average otherwise.

Taste is full of hop bitterness and biscuit malt with a strong bitter taste to it.

Mouthfeel is full of biscuit and lingering hop bitterness. Not much to note here.

Average example of the style here. Just not much to note. Not bad but not much.

Brad007, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of THECPJ
3/5  rDev -3.5%

THECPJ, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of LiquidAmber
3.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Stone gargoyle pint. Pours a light copper amber with a nice two finger yellowish white head with good retention and lacing. Light aroma of sweet malt with slight toastiness, lightly spicy. Flavor is light malt, slightly nutty, finishing malty and dry with bittering hops, slightly astringent. It does give the impression of a more flavorful malty beer that has been watered down, but it is being presented as a remake of the traditional small beers that were widely drunk and made from spent malt. From that point of view, the flavor is very pleasant for the very low ABV and second malt run. It was enjoyable trying this classic style and I'm glad Anchor makes it. It probably would be a good idea to make a category for this style, since it is traditional and was widely drunk at one time. I'm rating it as a small beer, not an English bitter (although it doesn't miss that mark by much).

LiquidAmber, Oct 20, 2012
Photo of scruffwhor
2.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hay with a light copper tint. Looks like an almost amber Pilsner. Good head and foam retntion as well as good bubbling.

Faint note of grassy hops amongst just toasted malts. Very thin aroma overall.

Watery thin palate with some toasted cracker water snapp thanks to some slightly lemon and grass clipping hops. The mnalts is just a faint, very dry, maybe even bland tasting cracker. Sessionable, just not flavorful.

scruffwhor, Jan 20, 2012
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.

flagmantho, Dec 27, 2012
Photo of atrocity
3/5  rDev -3.5%

atrocity, Apr 25, 2014
Photo of BeerFMAndy
2.42/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. (something that looks like a backwards ?)JP stamped on the back label.

A - Tons of carbonation streams up from the nucleation point to a puffy off-white head of almost three-fingers. Good retention and clumpy lace above a totally clear golden yellow beer.

S - Unfortunately I don't think a Euro-style lager skunk smells is supposed to be present in this beer so it could be light-struck but otherwise I get a low American hop nose with a very small bit of maltiness. Rather shy nose.

T - Wow. This is very unusual. Lots of grassy, grainy, husky flavor with an incredibly dry finish. Lots of rice too. The hops are floral and herbal but light in presence.

M - Light-bodied and very crisp from abounding carbonation, Small Beer has an incredibly dry finish and a very low hop bitterness.

D - I'm heading to the brewery in a month-and-a-half so I'd love to get a fresh bottle of this. Right now though it's not going over so well.

BeerFMAndy, Mar 31, 2010
Photo of Hopheadjeffery
3/5  rDev -3.5%

Hopheadjeffery, Dec 22, 2012
Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 435 ratings.