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Anchor Small Beer - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

432 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 432
Reviews: 320
rAvg: 3.11
pDev: 18.01%
Wants: 16
Gots: 7 | 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)
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Ratings: 432 | Reviews: 320 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WesWes

New York

3.13/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a golden color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a light, grainy, pale malt scent with some sweetness and a slightly fruity yeast aroma. The taste is average. It has a very light and watery pale/and light crystal malt flavor. It is loaded with citrus hops and a thin dry finish. The mouthfeel is decent. It is a low bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an interesting concept, although the result is less than stellar. It is too loaded with hops. It has a really bitter aftertaste. This is an average drinker. It's one and done for me.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2005 21:33:37 | More by WesWes
Photo of Hibernator


3.63/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this out of a 22 oz brown bottle. There is a bottled on date on the back label that reads 4 AT. I served this in an imperial pint glass.

Pours a clear light amber color with a very nice fluffy head. There is some really good sustain on the head with some rocky, sticky lacings.

The smell is neutral and nothing really sticks out. Smells like grains and wheat.

This is a fairly light bodied brew. A tad watery, yet the mouthfeel lends itself to a crisp, grainy profile. The malts have a light caramel sweetness. This is a very clean beer and that works for a good drinkability level.

Certainly not the best Anchor beer on the market, but still a quality beer worth trying. This beer would work very well on a hot summer day. Very thirst quenching. I had no problem downing this in minimal time.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2005 23:49:43 | More by Hibernator
Photo of rousee


2.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pour is a real golden tinted amber. No head. No lace. Head retention is decent.

Smell is kinda crappy--like a stadium beer.

T- It has one variety of hops that I like. Sorry I can't identify it by name but it is similar to Warrior or the other one in the DFH 60. I think Bear republic has it in the Hop Rod Rye. This is the good pale ale hoppiness but the beer has much of the maple-syruppy effect that is common on these breweries trying to do the light/ low ABV beers to appease the fads.

MF-is somewhat lousy--maybe a little better than Sam Adams light. Just coppery-caramel stickiness that is not real pleasant.

D-I guess you could have a few of these. It is weaker than Amstel light. Sad for the Anchor people to succumb and sell out so badly--almost like IceCube's recent film.

Edit: I am pouring the remaining 6 ozs down the sink. Don't buy this one-- even Sam Adalms Light or Amstel is better.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2005 01:34:13 | More by rousee
Photo of GClarkage


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

01/25/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 22oz bottle that looks too small to contain that much beer. No dates. Poured into my 24 oz glass mug.

Appearance- On the clearer yellow side. Maybe a tad amber shaded. At first a decent sized foamy head but evaporated quickly. A wee bit of lacing ensues.

Smell- Mostly light malts and grains. Not much smell at all.

Taste- UGH! Like setzer grain water. Think of Calistoga sparkiling water with a grain background and no other taste and you have this beer.

Mouthfeel- Average to heavy carbonation.

Drinkability- Couldn't finish this beer. To bland and no taste whatsoever. Very disappointed in this one. I had lots of hope for this one, but no dice here. Don't even bother with this one.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2005 16:24:46 | More by GClarkage
Photo of Billolick

New York

3.15/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This one pours a very light shade of amber, crystal clear, alot of carbonation early, leads to a puffy white head, with long lasting retentive powers, leaves a mess of thick lacing, nice. Faint malty nose. taste is the problem here, its a tad metallic, sharp, watery and thin. The mouthfeel is also prickly, even as it warms up a bit. There is far better beer out there, this a noble and well intentioned try from the good folks @ A.S., but it misses the mark. Needs to be softened out, could use some more malt to ease it across the tongue

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2005 03:48:07 | More by Billolick
Photo of skybluewater


2.4/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very pale gold color. Smells odd, with a harsh hoppiness that isn't very pleasent. Taste as well isn't all that great. It has a rather harsh quality to it that disappates somewhat as the beer warms. Towards the end, I can almost taste a great beer in there somewhere...

Hmm, reading previous reviews of this, I'm thinking I got a bum bottle or something. Then again, it IS fresh, as per the bottle code I just spent 45 minutes decrypting. As such, I'm going to have to say that I just don't care for this beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2005 07:08:53 | More by skybluewater
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


3.98/5  rDev +28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: A very grown up looking Anchor bottle, the classic profile but this one is bigger and holds 22 ounces of beer. Ironically, the bigger bottle seems to be reserved for the brew called ‘Small Beer’. Simple presentation, it has only a small oval decal like label that has the words ‘Anchor Small Beer’ above and below a picture of a rope laden Anchor. A reverse label has the code 4JG. Thankfully the neck label contains a little more information and describes the heritage of the beers manufacture and name; principally that it is the brewed from the second runnings of the Old Foghorn. Color coded blue and gold crown cap, no discernable freshness date anywhere.

Appearance: Beautiful appearance in my large handled Mug. Massive frothy off-white head look fantastic, it leaves and stiff thick creamy lacing as you work your way down this one. Above average carbonation really supports the head throughout. The body has a classic English Bitter color, a thoroughly clear light copper-amber presence with some orange hints. This looks impressive!

Nose: Shandy like nose, in so much of the fact that the crisp aromas, bitter, hops and malts have a light sweet caramel dimension - but in a delicate English Bitter / Pale Ale sort of way.

Taste: Regardless of the low ABV, this has a very distinctive flavor profile. Some oak bitterness at the start, crisp malts and a session-like character lend immediate appeal in the mouth. You can swirl this one and get that extra depth, or juts swallow this one in gulps and go straight for the finish with its nice sharp bitterness that I am exceptionally partial to – the ending also allows the wooden-like aspect to linger in the finish with some dry caramel.

Mouthfeel: Above average, thanks mainly to the solid conditioning, but still, it is nothing earth-shattering, it is however, exactly where it needs to be, and that is the hard part that many may have problems coming to terms with.

Drinkability: Nicely balanced but very Bitter, just as I like it. Akin to many a lighter English Bitter or Pale Ale, not quite a Table Beer as such, but it most certainly makes for a lovely Session Ale.

Overall: I had heard of this, but I never thought I would see it on the West Coast - but thankfully I did and for just $3.99 at BevMo. Not a massive beer in any sense, but well worth trying. I enjoyed it, but then, even after 3+ years in So.Cal. with all the big ass hoppy beers that are available, I still yearn for the lighter balanced Session Pale Ales. Well worth picking up a bottle of this. Thoroughly Enjoyable!

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2005 22:01:52 | More by TheLongBeachBum
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2005 20:51:53 | More by ppoitras
Photo of francisweizen


3.75/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

OK, let me begin to try and catch up on my serious lack of beer reviews recently! bomber bottle, picked up at half time just a few days ago. Dark orange/honey gold with a nice big white head of foam that leaves white, sticky lace. Nice. Aromas are subtles and somewhat subdued but they consist of herbal hops, and light honey-like biscuit malts. Taste is malty and sweet with a citric burst of hops near the finish. After-taste is slightly hoppy, but almost non-existant. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and good, for a low abv brew. Drinkability is good, and this is a good beer, although it is very reminiscent of my first home-brew, and not quite as good!

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2005 22:36:59 | More by francisweizen
Photo of cokes


3.63/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear darkened gold with a fat, rocky off-white head and rushing jets of carbonation..
Nose of burnt pizza crust and grassy hops.
Begins with that same sense of burnt pizza....and with that cuisine, it is near perfect. Beyond that, it seems rather average. A subtle caramel maltiness develops, or nearly develops. Turns citric and bitter without any definative flavor. Grapefruit and, oddly, near white grapey tannic bitterness. Ends with an upturn of herbs and leaves.
Light bodied, and quaffable, though not so much as the lowered ABV would indicated.
It is, however, decent. I'd run through it again.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2005 05:19:44 | More by cokes
Photo of Dukeofearl


2.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I am mixed about this beer, much as other reviewers discuss below. It is a Small Beer, which the label notes is the second running through the mash after they make Old Foghorm Barleywine, and that this is a long-standing brewing tradition that they are trying to keep alive. That is great, and they get serious props for doing so. But the real thing is the beer, and to be honest, I'm not excited by it.

Appearance is a slightly darker than average clear golden, with a fair amount of carbonation. A large head of mixed-sized bubbles begins, that sinks rather quickly, leaving a small amount of lace on the side.

Aroma is a mix of malt and hops, ok. The flavor is where it goes for me. This starts quickly with a nice malty presence that is quickly overrun by astringent, bitter hops. The mouthfeel is a bit thin, and the hops just don't do it for me in terms of session beers. I can't recommend this one, as much as I would like to.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2004 03:08:24 | More by Dukeofearl
Photo of clvand0


3.58/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cool 22oz bottle. Pours a yellow color with a moderate head that doesn't stick around too long and doesn't leave too much lacing on the glass. The aroma reminds me of pilsner malts and lager yeast. The flavor is very pilsner-like. Grainy and subdued flavors with a citrus hop that isn't very strong. The drinkability on this one is pretty nice, but the body is way too thin.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2004 14:46:02 | More by clvand0
Photo of kmpitz2


3.5/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a very clear golden yellow color wtih a 3 finger head that sticks around a while. The nose is actually what I would expect from a pilsner. Lots of sweetness and a hint of graineyness. The flavor is very grainey with a big hop in the middle. This is no APA as the style on the site says, but I don't think this is far for this beer to be put in that style. Small beers are different beasts. The feel is thin, but expected to be that way. Drinkability is not bad at all either. Its nice to see someone do a small beer. I might go for a lighter, sweeter hop in this one, but its not bad at all.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2004 00:40:35 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of Beastdog75

New Jersey

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

Anchor's Small Beer is supposedly made from the same mash as their Old Foghorn Barleywine. The bottle tries to liken this brew to an English bitter. I thought I was going to be in for a real treat with this beer but ended up very disappointed.

Anchor Small Beer pours a rather nice caramel/gold color with 2 fingers of foam that last for about a minute. The smell had a decent piney/citric hoppy aroma to it, and it also contianed some butterscotch-like malts in the nose. The beer had a moderate carbonation to it, but it seemed a little watery in terms of body. The flavor was what made this brew a letdown. Definitely not assertive enough and bordering on watery. The piney/citric hop presence is there and is pretty much the only positive thing in the flavor. A wet cardboard flavor is also present. As the brew warms up, some of the butterscotch notes from the malt come out, but are still near undetectable. The hop bitterness does add some dryness to the finish, but the aftertaste is more of a cardboard dryness. With this being a low-alcohol beer, there is obviously no alcoholic warmth.

I expected more from Anchor (whom I have a deep respect for). Way too watery and bland for my tastes. I'll give it another go if I see it on tap.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2004 18:32:14 | More by Beastdog75
Photo of Suds


3.15/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I couldn’t help but think of this as a beer of lost potential…these sugars could have been an Old Foghorn. Pours a clear, light-copper color with a pretty white head. It’s got a pleasant, but mild, grassy and piney hop aroma. There’s considerable carbonation in this one…constant bubbles and an effervescent mouthfeel. Light and hoppy, with a grassy, grainy, slightly bitter taste. Not a bad beer, but not anything outstanding either. I’m glad that Anchor made this brew…it’s interesting because of the brewing method and the lost potential.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2004 19:34:11 | More by Suds
Photo of bditty187


2.6/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Largely clear, tawny-gold in hue, there are a few tiny bubbles dancing towards the small white head. At the apex the head was a modest ¼ inch in height. It slipped to a very thin collar. Subsequent lacing was spotty and it didn’t cling well. The nose doesn’t say much, at first. There is a trace of malt, kind of toasty, somewhat sweet and caramely. I get a weak suggestion of piney hops, way in the back. I’ve never had a Small Beer before so I can’t really make assumptions on the bouquet. I believe Anchor “dry-hops” this one, right? Once this beer warmed up the nose fell apart and a foul aroma of old gym socks emerged. Even before this aspect developed the nose was not inviting, mainly because it was boring. Add in the funk and, well, I’m not digging it. Well, the palate isn’t any more exciting. I wasn’t expecting it to be. There is a louder hoppy influence, pine mainly. The malt doesn’t offer much taste. There is some sweetness but it is too quite to be important. I don’t like the veggie taste or the “wet” cheese taste. This only grew with warmth. Thankfully the aftertaste is dully cedary and pine-like. The palate is dry. On the whole, my first Small Beer might be my last. It is less flavorful than I was expecting plus some of the qualities on the tongue were not very pleasant. Light in body, as anticipated, the carbonation is light but fitting for the construction of the beer. I was hopping I’d like this, I really wanted to try it and I was pleased to buy it in Milwaukee, WI. But I just don’t like it… unimpressive, even in the realm of expectations. Still it is cool somebody is making this old school beer. Thanks Anchor but I’ll stick with Old Foghorn.

It might be decent, super fresh.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2004 01:56:48 | More by bditty187
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 StuFox

New York

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

The Anchor Small Beer is not a beer of depth and complexity. Not that it is bad, it just isn't involved. You taste the bitter hops, you taste some citrus, but that's more or less it. This beer always leaves me asking myself why I didn't just get the Liberty Ale. It's a good beer, just the worst of the Anchor Steam beers, and not worth the price.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2004 21:15:58 | More by StuFox
Photo of mschofield


4.1/5  rDev +31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a coppery gold, topped with a three finger foamy off-white head. Well carbonated and leaves thick patches of lace.
Light malt, pine and apricot in the aroma.
Good bitter taste, pine, toast, wood, leather, citrus rind, light caramel. Light bodied, a little thin.
One of the tastiest low alcohol beers on the market.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2004 21:22:10 | More by mschofield
Photo of lackenhauser


3.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice golden amber color-good carbonation level-has a decent head the whole way down.Somewhat hoppy aroma.Bitterness is right upfront.Some malt flavor-almost grassy like.Average mouthfeel-good for having a low abv.A decent enough beer-perhaps a tad too bitter.Would be nice if it was a bit maltier.

Serving type: bottle

08-05-2004 00:51:52 | More by lackenhauser
Photo of connecticutpoet


3.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An amber colored beer with a very good sized head, looked pretty good.

The aroma was pretty hoppy, mostly aromatic hops, hints of bittering hops.

The taste was a sharp and bitter tang that passed quickly, much like a light beer does.

It was an interesting beer, about like a good light beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-13-2004 02:47:44 | More by connecticutpoet
Photo of HappyHourHero


3.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Light grainy aroma, a bit of skunky hops. Decent, bright white head faded slowly to a film. Scattered streams of carbonation rise rapidly through the clear golden beer. Light bodied beer, bordering on watery. Malty, grain flavor is quickly over run by an unpleasant bitterness. Not tasty, watery, dissapointing.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2004 03:01:56 | More by HappyHourHero
Photo of kennyo

New York

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

Anchor, the producer of the 'nectar of the gods" Liberty Ale produces a small beer in a big bottle, 22oz. Nice soapy head that fades fairly quickly. Nice dark gold color, crispy clear. Carbonation is very good, not too biting. body very thin, light. One dimension, bitter, bitter, bitter and not much else. I tried this beer about a year ago and I tought it was a foghorn lite but not this time. not my first choice for Anchor products.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2004 00:04:11 | More by kennyo
Photo of RootedFool


3.98/5  rDev +28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 18 ounce bottle purchased at the North Coast Co-op in Eureka, California. The body is translucent copper, very bright with a few bubbles rising through the middle, with a foamy off-white head that rises fast and tall and leaves a few scattered dots of lace on the glass.

The smell is a refreshing waft of freshly pulled lemon grass with a crisp background of unbuttered bisquits.

Taste: opens with a slightly sour bitterness on the tip of my palate, giving way to a more complex backwash of flavors -- citrus rinds (a clean, crisp bitterness), fresh sourdough bread. The aftertaste is a hint of green apple resting on the bed of grassy bitterness. Lovely.

Mouthfeel coincides with the taste prefectly: clean and crisply carbonated.

The fact that this has barely any alcohol content, and with so much flavor, there are no adverse side-effects (as I'm drinking this in the early afternoon) and it's incredibly enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2004 20:57:19 | More by RootedFool
Photo of Stimack

New York

2.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This brew poured to a nice to an amber color with a very impressive head! The head is huge and very dense and does not seem to want to break down. It leaves fantastic lacing throughout the entire experience. It is a very nice looking brew. Now for the rest of the review! The aroma is of hop with highlights of malts flavors, unfortunately not a fantastic smelling beer as it seems to be watered (?) down somewhat. The taste is so-so, the hops dominate with citrus flavors along with bread/biscuit highlights. This is a brew that I did not care for that much. I love most of the products from Anchor so this was a bit of a disappointment for me. Not one that I will get again.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2004 14:27:19 | More by Stimack
Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 432 ratings.