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Anchor Small Beer - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer

Educational use only; do not reuse.

445 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 445
Reviews: 325
rAvg: 3.12
pDev: 17.95%
Wants: 18
Gots: 11 | 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:
Beer added by: UnionMade on 11-11-2000

"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. "
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Ratings: 445 | Reviews: 325 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of plaid75
3.43/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

Photo of gpogo
3.38/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Mostly clear golden yellow with large white head with decent retention.

A- Grainy malt aroma.

T- Initially it tasted like an incredibly watered down beer. Then I started to notice the very slight malt taste and how it finishes so crisp. I also noticed how bitter it was, not overly bitter, but in a way that contributes to that crisp flavor.

M- Very light body with moderate to high carbonation.

D- This is the first Small Beer I have ever had, the label compares it to a light bitter. I'm glad Anchor is making such a historical brew available. At 3.3% this is definitely a sessionable beer, or maybe even a breakfast beer. Not as packed with flavor or as complex as other styles, but it does have a crisp refreshing feel to it. I recommend everyone try it at least once and preferbly with it's first running brother Old Foghorn.

Photo of taeagan
2.83/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I had been looking for this beer here on the east coast for a while and was excited to try it. Deep gold to light amber in color. Brilliant clarity. Thin white head. Great bready malt aromas and a surprisingly significant earthy/spicy hop presence. Hops really dominate the malt in flavor. Very high bitterness and thin mouthfeel. I'd like a greater malt balance. Too dry, thin, bitter, and hoppy for me.

Photo of russpowell
3.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review based on notes

Pours an effervescent honey color with 1 finger of pearl white head. Minimal lacing & head retention

S: Grassy & lemony hops

T: Lemony, grassy & grainy up front. Astringency kicks in as this warms. Finishes grainy with a bit of grapefruit

MF: Light bodied, astringent & with minimal carbonation

Nice homage to old brewing traditions, but I'll never buy this again unless there is almost zero choice in beer, was drinkable enough, but devoid of flavors I seek

Photo of DefenCorps
3/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle poured into my Russian River pint glass. The bottle says it's a bitter so i'm going to review it accordingly

A: Amber with a frothy white head. Crystal clear.

S: Bready with a very thin malt presence. Mild earthy hop note. Not much going on.

T: Bitter, almost in a tannin way. Mild malt note comes through. Not much going on apart from the breadiness and the mild bitterness

M: Overcarbonated for the style with a nice dry finish

D: I can easily drink a lot of this but i doubt i will

Photo of BWMKappaSig
3.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Gold-amber with a thin white head

Smell: Lightly hoppy, lightly malted.

Taste: Bitter, slightly grainy. Well balanced, but moderately week. Bitterness dominates the afatertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body.

Drinkability: Light and refreshing.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.13/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Amber orange color, hints of gold highlights. White head jumps up about two fingers full, and sticks like there's no tomorrow.

Aroma is very heavy on the floral hopping, also quite citric and fresh, but big on the floral yeasties. Malt side runs to grainy, malt husk aromas; pale, sweet, and rather weak.

Clearly overloaded on the hops, there's very little balance, and the overall mouthfeel is a watery and thin. Finish is dry and full of tannins, while the citric hops don't really add that much to the beer.

Interesting brewing technique. It's like an American light lager with a huge amount of bitterness, so in that light it's not an uninteresting experience. I'm glad I didn't pay much for it.

Photo of Halcyondays
3.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

24 oz. bowling pin,

A: Pours a pale orange, with a full, long-lasting white head, solid lacing.

S: Strong hop aroma, grassy, light malt.

T: A bitter and somewhat astringent taste of grassy hops dominates the brew, the very low alcohol content allows some carbonic acid flavour as well. Really tasty light treacly sweetness in the aftertaste. My feelings on the flavour have their up and down moments.

M: Very light, which I would expect for a small beer, though I think the biting carbonation detracts from the enjoyment of the beer and makes it less drinkable.

D: A beer that's hard to drink at times, but still an interesting experiment from Anchor. Nice to see a brewer making this rare style which was a common as water during the medieval period.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Apperance: Pours a clear, light coppery body with a foamy, white head.

Smell: Doughy barley aroma with a bit of citrus and spice. Starts smelling of broth after awhile, so much so that I order some Chinese delivery!

Taste: Mild malt character, with only some light malted barley and a taste of yeasty dough sweetened with one lonely drop of honey. Spicy, citrusy hop flavor with a medium bitterness. Dry finish is a touch soapy with a lingering bitterness. There's an astringency that builds up on the palate along the way.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium, somewhat lively carbonation.

Drinkability: You won't get anything that packs a punch at 3.30%, but it sure has alot of heart, that's for damn sure.

Photo of beermebeerman
3.83/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden, leaves a creamy white head which quickly dissappears to a thin lacing. Coudn't smell a whole lot, but this was probably partially due to being slightly stuffed up. Taste was actually really good! I read some reviews that said it was slightly skunky? I did taste a slight sourness but this is within the guidelines for this style and way less than most others I have tried in this style. The hops come through just as the malt dies off, leaving a crisp, clean flavor that isn't boring. Mouthfeel is good. (I always have a hard time explaining this).

Overall, highly drinkable. I really don't know why so many people aren't bigger on this. A great session beer, at 3.3% You could drink a couple and still be ready for more. I'd definately buy another!

Photo of barleywinefiend
2.15/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

At first I was interested in this beer after I saw it at BEVMO.
Poured a light gold color. Head is small. Aroma is malty and slightly skunky. A light bodied beer. Very light and watery tasting. There is something not quite right with this beer, not sure quite what it is, but it ain't right. Malts are way to mild. Hops are way to astringent. And it only 3.3 ABV as well. Not a very good effort from Anchor. Mouthfeel is thin. Finish is blsnd. Aftertaste is bitter. tasted like a macrobrew all the way. Schlitz even!

Photo of BeerTruth
3/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

From the website:

"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. Technically, both beers are "ales" because they are made with top-fermenting yeast."

22 oz. teardrop bottle poured into a nonic.

Pours a copper orange with a foggy one finger off white head that dies down to just about nothing. Leaves a nice trail of webbing on the sides of the glass. Smell is very light and sweet. Faint citrus hops and caramel malt tickle the nose. Some honey and lemongrass scent as well. Taste is a bit metallic with floral and grassy notes. Midway through some earthy hops graze the tongue. Aftertaste is a bit dry with a yeast and bread like flavor. Mouthfeel is light with a slick feel. Carbonation is very lively with this one. For being so low in abv., I would think this would have a higher drinkability to it. Unfortunately it wasn't that much of a session beer to me. I find putting down a ST Hop Sun to be much easier. Interesting style, would like to try more beers that are made this way.

Photo of 1759Girl
3.43/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 4

This review is in my notes from almost a month ago, so bear with my memory and chicken-scratch-translation...
And note that the FABULOUS day in Delores Park make have made this beer taste better than it was... but nonetheless, here goes:
A>Light amber, lively, with a little head and some lacing... very standard looking for an Am Pale.
S> grasses, hops
T>lagery start that turned to a nicer hoppier bitter finish.
M>too bubbly.
D>nice nose, easy to drink.

Photo of daledeee
2.4/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I bought this wondering what they meant by small beer. I thought it was small batches of strong beer? Then I find out it is like rebrewed beer ingredients.

This beer poured with a medium head and some lace sticks behind. It is a dark clear goldish brown.

The nose is hard to describe.

Taste is like boiled down something but not good. Malt? Somewhat bitter, but doesn't taste like most hops.

This beer has a pretty dry finish and the aftertaste is not very appealing to me. May be a personal thing, but I consider myself pretty open minded. OK, so we are preserving ingredients by brewing beer like this. Not my cup of tea, I mean beer. Sorry got confused; this tastes more like tea.

Photo of JEdmund
2.65/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Apricot, clear, minimal white head

A little sour, reminding me of a macro-brew like Budweiser; nothing too appetizing and definitely nothing bold or distinct

Taste & Mouthfeel
Well, it's definitely small; upfront malt/bitterness, but it quickly disappears, leaving little aftertaste and a clean, crisp finish; the flavor that I do taste is so light, like 'light' good beer; it's weird, as I've never had a beer like this

Was worth the $3 to try it, but not something I'd ever buy again; a neat, old idea, but doesn't exactly work well with my standards of what I want in a beer

Photo of williamherbert
3.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bright darkish yellow color. Lots of uprising carbonation. Nice, lasting white and foamy head. Looks clear and thirst-quenching.

Smell of a nice, all-malt lager. Mild barley malt. Pleasant. A little mild (nice) corn syrup sweetness.

Nice typically light all-malt lager flavor. Malt slightly pale. Very typical. Decent but doesn't stand out.

A tad fizzy; the texture of a Belgian but none of the spicy bite. Drinkable but average. Not bad. Really just a normal lager.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
2.33/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a short off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is a little pungent and contains caramelized malt and some pale hops.

T: The taste is malty with flavors of caramel and some citrus. There's a mild and pale hops presence that really doesn't seem to compliment everything very well. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, very is clean.

D: Not very tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, very mild kick, not the best representation of style, this is simply not a beer that I would want to drink again.

Photo of JDV
3.43/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

Photo of thejewthatbrews
4.22/5  rDev +35.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.
A: Deep golden, honey colored, with a white bubbly head and nice, although thin, lacing. Head retention was minimal.
S: Very balanced. A little more toward the malt side, after the pour, once the head died down a bit.
T: Again, balanced. Slight malt upfront, then a little hops. Hops in the finish, with a mildly malty aftertaste.
M: Pretty light, but not like water or anything. Light enough that you don't feel the need to drink sparingly.
D: Highly drinkable, due to a very balanced, mild flavor, and light mouthfeel.

Overall, in my opinion, a great beer. Balanced all around, and extremely drinkablel. Nothing special, but what would you expect from the second runnings of a mash? Will I buy it again? Definately. It's a beer I don't have to convince myself I like.

Photo of Georgiabeer
2.98/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I've had this a couple of times now and It should be classified as a small beer (a style that doesn't exist on BA at the time of this review) rather than an American Pale. I can't remember having another small beer other than this one, but I know some are out there. I don't know if I'm not a fan of the stule or a fan of this beer, but it tastes like what it is- second runnings. Pours pale orange with excellent clarity and a bright white head. Very grassy aromas, with a touch of hay and washed out cereal grain- very, very light. The taste doesn't impress me- just taste like cereal grains lightly steepeed in tepid water and then chilled. Hops? perhaps. I really just think leftovers as I drink this. Mouthfeel is light and sparkling, like a slightly grainy club soda with a bit of earthiness tossed in. I guess for the style it is basically as it should be, which if that is the case I'll let someone else enjoy the style from now on- I guess I still don't get it.

Photo of semihobo
2.8/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Very orange, nearly Gatorade colored, but with a splotchy snowy white head with a moderate half-life. Crystal clear. Good lacing on the sides for the style.

Smell is quite rich, nutty and robust. Smells more like an intense lager than an APA, with a good dose of grassy, herbal hops and some starchy, wheaty malts.

Taste is similar to the smell, grass and adjunct-y grains but with a touch of metal as well. Euro lager-style hops dominate, especially on a thicker finish. More bitter than expected, I see how this could be the offspring of a barleywine.

A little on the watery side with moderate carbonation that falls flat.

I guess I could drink a lot of this, due to the ABV, but there is nothing to keep me coming back. For 3.3% ABV you'd think it'd be cheaper than Keystone Light, but alas, this is not the case. Although this tastes a lot better. Kudos to Anchor for continuing a neat tradition.

Photo of Murchmac
3.9/5  rDev +25%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love anchor.

This beer smells like the outside of my house on a windy morning as I can smell the anchor brewery from my house.

Looks crystal clear like a golden champagne. Love the clarity of this beer.

Tastes great! Less filling.

If you can get this beer do it. They brew this style and not a lot of other breweries do. These beers have been brewed for centuruies. Used to brew them for kids in colonial times.

Photo of t0rin0
2.33/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bought this from bevmo and tried it from a pint glass. I bought it because I read the label and it said that its made from a second sparging of the grains used for the old foghorn barleywine. I assumed that would mean that it would have a similar flavor but milder.

The appearance was more orange and of a watered down darker beer. There was a bit of head but it didn't last. No lacing. The color was nice though.

There wasn't much of a smell to speak of. There was a tiny bit of basic malt and a little bit of hops. The flavor was not very good at all in my opinion. I think the hop bitterness was on the high side for a beer this light. But the flavor of the malt was very thin. Everything about this beer was watered down except maybe the bittering hops.

The mouthfeel was good for the beer. It was a real light feel. It should be priced cheaper as its a lighter beer and its made relatively cheaply. Probably would not buy this again.

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This one pours very pale copper with a frothy ivory head. Smells surprisingly malty for a beer so light. Sweet caramel malt with underpinnings of floral hops.

Initially, lots of carbonic bite in the mouth. Very, very carbonated without a lot of body to offset it. You can taste some caramel malt in here but it is, as expected, quite thin. Very fizzy, very crisp and very light.

If the carbonation was backed off a little bit, this would be a pretty tasty and refreshing ale. The ample carbonation, however, serves to overpower the rest of the flavors instead of enhancing them. I'll have to give it another try sometime but this one is pretty disappointing.

Photo of Natural510
2.33/5  rDev -25.3%
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.

Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 445 ratings.