Anchor Small Beer - Anchor Brewing Company

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Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer

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440 Ratings

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Ratings: 440
Reviews: 323
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:
"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: 440 | Reviews: 323 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of StuFox
3.25/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

Photo of mschofield
4.1/5  rDev +31.4%
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.

Photo of lackenhauser
3.05/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

Photo of connecticutpoet
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

Photo of HappyHourHero
3.23/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

Photo of kennyo
2.65/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

Photo of RootedFool
3.98/5  rDev +27.6%
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.

Photo of Stimack
2.75/5  rDev -11.9%
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.

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

The name says it all...a small beer that is probably a good alternative to some of the other light beers on the market. Presented in a dark yellow appearance with a decent head. Smell was extremely light with some faint hoppy notes. Taste was very light throughout with a pleasant light bitter finish. Mouthfeel was "just there"...very unspectacular. Good on the drinkability scale due to its light nature, especially in the abv category, Probably not a bad brew for a warm summer day after mowing the lawn.

Photo of drewbage
3.95/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled from Anchor's 22oz brown bottle with no descipherable freshness date. Sampled from a traditional Raven dimple mug.

Beer is a light copper with an impressive white head with fine bubbles and a almost thunderous bubbling for quite a while.

Aroma is a just there caramel and a toasty malt with a crisp woody hop character.

Flavor is clean with a very toasty malt character. As the beer fades a metallic note becomes apparent.

Finish echos the hop woody herbal note with just a slightly tannic note.

I'll give Anchor a lot of credit. This beer used to be heavily tannic until about a year ago. The beer as it appears now, it's a great session beer.

Photo of Zorro
3.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours a nice clear amber gold brew.

Smell is lots of grain and grain husks, mild citrus hop scent and mild perfume.

Taste is weak grain flavor and an astringent grain husks flavor. A surprisingly bitter beer.

Mouthfeel is thin.

A drinkable brew, very good for a lunch beer due to the low alcohol content.

Photo of Hobbz
3.75/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I like the idea of this brew. A "small" beer like an English ordinary bitter, made in essence from secondary "sparging-out/runoff" of the spent materials from their Old Foghorn barleywine mashing process. I can sense that this is an "old way" of brewing -- waste not...

The results (after bottling) I sampled were good and plenty drinkable. A light-bodied and colored ale, making for a fine session brew and one I think benefits from sampling first among other styles (ie: if mixing it up is in your imbibing future). Pretty good foamage as well, as the alcohol level is reduced in this style.

Photo of Tballz420
3.38/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brew is a clear golden color, and has a good sized foam white head. Light grainy scent, slight floral hops as well. This is a very light beer, and has a crisp feel to it, some slight hop bitterness. This beer is the second run of another offering from anchor, and i dont really see any reason to come back to it. If youre looking for a nice light beer, this could be it, but it seems fairly overpriced for that objective.

Photo of watermelonman
3.28/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This poured to a very nice pale and copper color, with a great looking small head.

The smell isn't very appealing to me, but the taste is pretty decent. All things considered, the hops are potent. They're a little floral in the taste, but not at all in the smell.

This may not be spectacular, but it goes down well, and it's definitely unique.

Photo of Mark
4/5  rDev +28.2%
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.

Photo of zerk
3.3/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

When I first heard of this brew, I was really anxious to find a bottle... it's an interesting, and very old idea... sparge the grains from a batch of Old Foghorn, and make a lighter (smaller) beer. The beer is supposed to be similar to an English Bitter, so that's how I'm rating it.

Pours a light copper with a thin but very persistent white head that leaves behind some patches of lace. Aroma is a pleasant mix of nutty and bread-like malts with some spicy hoppiness. Flavor is a bit one-dimensional... a lot of spicy hops, which dominate any malt or esters that might be present. The beer starts and finishes bitter. Mouthfeel is light and begins slightly overcarbonated. All in all, this beer was a letdown. I expected a good bitter, but got pretty ordinary beer.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.2/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a brilliantly clear copper color, topped by a thick wonderfully long lasting off white head that creates the classic Belgian lacing as the beer is consumed. The aroma is of grain & some spicy hoppiness reminiscent of an open field. The taste is light & finishes with a spritzy bitterness. There is some dry grain character in the taste as well. The hop flavor is somewhat subdued (which is appropriate for an English bitter, which this beer characterizes itself as), but there is a nice hop spicing which adds some piney notes and a certain zing in the middle of this beer. There is a bit of nuttiness here too. Perhaps a tad too bitter to be spot on to style but I do like it anyway. Quite a clean strain of ale yeast was used as there is not much in the way of fruitiness or esters that might have added a bit more complexity.

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

Perfect clear copper orange pour topped with a generous cake of foam that disappears quite quickly. Light, sweet grain smell brings pancakes(?!) to mind. Bitter hops are detectable as well. Predictably, the nose is relatively weak. Straight bitterness hits the tongue initially with a more complex hoppiness taking over afterward. Malt base is there but secondary to the bitterness. Mouthfeel is clean; this one goes down just fine but is uninteresting compared to other Anchor offerings.

Photo of mickeymac
3.18/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from an unusual looking 22 oz bottle, it's orangish-gold with a craggy head that remains active to the bottom of the glass. The smell is noticeably hoppy, with a fairly strong metallic smell that carries over to the taste. It's on the bitter side but pretty much lacking in anything else. This may be made with the second runnings of an Old Foghorn batch, but it tastes like third runnings. I'd pass up the Small Beer for Miller High Life if looking for a session beer and to save a little money. It's not terrible; it's just disappointing for an Anchor beer.

Photo of Jon
3.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear golden with a fizzy white head.

Nose of fairly assertive, flowery hops, substantial malt and not much else. The hops stand out among everything, but there's nothing truly extraordinary about the aroma.

Taste is well-balanced, though it borders more heavily on its hop presence that anything else. A mild graininess and herbal character appear as well.

Mouthfeel is fairly carbonated, though relatively smooth. Quite lively overall.

Drinks very well and is especially flavorful for such a low alcohol brew. It's a session beer all the way and a unique creation from Anchor. A nice, simple beer.

Photo of crookedhalo
3.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent table beer. In the essence of its style, not a lot to it. From a brewing perspective, it's the second sparge of the grain from the Old Foghorn and moderately hopped into a second batch of beer. Pale to medium golden color with a thin white head. Malt is rather lacking in the aroma department, hops prevail. Definitely Northern Brewer and maybe some Cascades in the bittering. I guess BA lists it as a pale ale, I find it more to be a bitter. After consulting the label, Anchor categorizes it as that, too. Very hoppy and enjoyable. Spritzy carbonation; lack of body may heighten this sensation. Mouthfeel is obviously thin. Slight lingering bitterness paired with a tinge of carbonic acid. Highly recommended as a low ABV summer session ale.

Photo of Longstaff
2.28/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Had to check out this beer just for the concept alone and it was very dissapointing. Light copper color with a thin trace of head. Bubbly carbonation and a tinge of Liberty Ale like aroma. Very thin body with very little sweetness. I don't think its the hops that make this bitter, I have a feeling its the astringent malt that sticks in the back of your throat. Flowery hop flavor is welcome in its attempt to subdue the husky malt flavor, but doesn't quite make it. This one did not sit well with me. Oh well, they all can't be winners.

Photo of UncleJimbo
3.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

25 oz brown bottle, capped. No date (but a code on the back label). I really wanted to try this "small beer", and had to search for it in several liquor stores before I located it.

This small beer poured a clear, amber color with creamy, tall, off-white foam that persisted and left good lace on the glass. There was also a nice carbonation from the bottom of the glass. The smell was lightly malty (slightly sweet) with some floral hops and bread/grain aromas. The taste was lightly malty with bitter and floral hops that lingered pleasantly. The mouthfeel was crisp and smooth with a very dry finish (almost astringent). The body was medium-light with moderate carbonation feel. The floral hops really came through in the finish and aftertaste, and this hoppy punch made up for the otherwise light body. This was a very nice ale, and at 3.3% it is quite the session beer. I wish it were more widely available in my area.

Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - The orange body is almost florescent. The head looked pretty good and laced the glass on the way down.

Smell - The malt aromas are secondary to the citrusy hops. Everything is kind of light at the nose.

Taste - An interesting mix of straight malt and citrus hops. There's no sweetness to this one. The finish is hoppy and dry.

Mouthfeel - Small carbonation and a refreshing mouthfeel help this one down.

Drinkability - This beer is sharp and undulating. It went down well with my very spicy Mexican dish.

Update - It has been almost five years since I first reviewed this beer so thought I'd give it another whirl in 2008. I thought the aroma was more pronounced as was the carbonation. It really does have a nice bitter kick at the end. I raised my overall rating from 3.8 to 4.0.

Photo of Winter
3.23/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Small beer. Big bottle. Pours a light amber in color with a tall creamy white head. Aroma consists primarily of citric hops and malt. Pretty light to medium in body. Malt flavor is pretty light. Sharp bitterness from the hops comes to the forefront midway across the palate. Aftertaste has a lingering "fruitiness" to it. Interesting concept, but pretty average tasting overall. Not one of Anchor's best IMO.

Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 440 ratings.