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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.

435 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 435
Reviews: 322
rAvg: 3.11
pDev: 18.01%
Wants: 17
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 435 | Reviews: 322 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of barleywinefiend
2.15/5  rDev -30.9%
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!

barleywinefiend, Apr 18, 2008
Photo of BeerTruth
3/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

BeerTruth, Apr 14, 2008
Photo of 1759Girl
3.43/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

1759Girl, Apr 12, 2008
Photo of daledeee
2.4/5  rDev -22.8%
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.

daledeee, Mar 31, 2008
Photo of JEdmund
2.65/5  rDev -14.8%
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

JEdmund, Feb 28, 2008
Photo of williamherbert
3.5/5  rDev +12.5%
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.

williamherbert, Feb 17, 2008
Photo of TheManiacalOne
2.33/5  rDev -25.1%
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.

TheManiacalOne, Feb 04, 2008
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.

JDV, Feb 02, 2008
Photo of thejewthatbrews
4.22/5  rDev +35.7%
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.

thejewthatbrews, Jan 30, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
2.98/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Georgiabeer, Jan 29, 2008
Photo of semihobo
2.8/5  rDev -10%
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.

semihobo, Jan 15, 2008
Photo of Murchmac
3.9/5  rDev +25.4%
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.

Murchmac, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of t0rin0
2.33/5  rDev -25.1%
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.

t0rin0, Dec 19, 2007
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.15/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

ViveLaChouffe, Dec 19, 2007
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.

Natural510, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of ikats
2.3/5  rDev -26%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I picked up the bottle of Small beer because I usually enjoy Anchor beers and because I was intrigued and impressed by Anchor brewing this traditional style. Now, just because it is traditional, doesn't mean that it is good. In fact, I find it pretty close to undrinkable. Aroma is unplesant and taste is too bitter without any substance. I was hoping that small beer will prove to be a great session beer, but it is not so. Kudos for Anchor for trying this style, but I don't think it should be repeated.

ikats, Dec 02, 2007
Photo of bboven
2.58/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Medium honey color, a bit cloudy with no head to speak of.

Smell is all malt. Mostly two-row, but a tiny bit of roast. Smells stale, really.

Thin and watery, a little malt and an unpleasant bitter aftertaste.

Well carbonated, doesn't stick to the tongue at all.

Eh. Valiant effort, but there are better small/session beers to be had. It's price is also right up there with much tastier bombers, so...

bboven, Oct 16, 2007
Photo of smttycty
2.95/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A proud stark-white crown rises right out of my pint glass, with a light soapy quality, but dies a quick death leaving a thin patchy film. The body is a clear golden hue with a lively carbonated ballet filling the stage.
The lack of any discernible aroma is disappointing. The flavor is hop-forward, but not out of control, with the bread-yeast and malt characters sitting a few rows back. Strikingly dry with an appropriate amount of carbonation giving a good clean finish.
Nothing here to hold your interest during a focused session with more complex beers, but with the low ABV and great thirst-quenching quality I'll be happy to load plenty of these in my cooler for the next hot August barn raising.

smttycty, Oct 15, 2007
Photo of Floydster
2.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

22 ounce bottle from BevMo in Torrance

I like the idea of mixing old style beer and the new generation stuff, but sometimes it does not always work

Poured a medium brown color with not much of a head

Smell was weak and could smell faint hints of barley

Taste was smooth, but not much to it and it went away fast

Could drink a good amount of this, finished a bomber with no problem

Floydster, Sep 15, 2007
Photo of rmcandre
3.48/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Golden and bright.

S: A light smell with grain overtones.

T: Light and crisp.

M: Almost champagne-like carbonation.

D: The best thing that can be said about this beer is that it is refreshing. Aside from that, it was not terribly exciting. It would be a good beer on a hot day.

rmcandre, Aug 18, 2007
Photo of Talisker
2.85/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A fascinating style, but I think I can see why it's out of fashion.

Poured from a 22oz bottle purchased at City Beer Store in San Francisco. Very nice deep orange color, quite a healthy head. The aroma is very promising - led by lots of (non-Northwest) hops, the promise of some interesting other flavors.

Unfortunately it's downhill from there. Mostly hops in the flavor, finishing very quickly with a slightly sour graininess that's not quite pleasant. Maybe it's the power of suggestion of this being a second-runnings beer, but the texture is thin and watery. Definitely something that doesn't stick around in your mouth, but not exactly a flavor you want to go chasing after with a quick followup drink.

I'm delighted to have been able to try this, but I won't be seeking it out again.

Talisker, Aug 01, 2007
Photo of jimdkc
3.45/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours clear gold with a decent sized white head. Head dissipates pretty quickly, but a foam ring and a film of small bubbles sticks around for quite a while.

Grainy, slightly grassy aroma. Light. Not unpleasant.

Lightly bready malt flavor. Hops are lightly bitter and add a welcome spiciness. Slightly sour aftertaste.

Light bodied with lively carbonation.

Made from the second runnings of Old Foghorn Barleywine mash, this beer is proof that a beer doesn't have to be over-the-top to be enjoyable. Did a great job of washing down pizza with large, satisfying gulps. Would also make a great summer cool-down quaff!

jimdkc, Jul 19, 2007
Photo of adowney523
3.65/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Aggresively poured into a shaker pint glass from a 22 oz brown bottle. Pours amber and clear with a thin off-white head that slowly fades.

Smells grainy with strong hints of lemon.

Tastes of raw malt with citrus fruit and floral tastes throughout. Slight earthy hops in the finish.

Rather light-bodied, finishes very dry. A refreshing beer for my 4th of July, recommended for sessions paired with BBQ.

adowney523, Jul 04, 2007
Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured into a nonic, this was a clear apricot in hue with a bit of a thin head, but nonetheless nicer looking than i expected. bottle states this is made from the second runnings of the old foghorn. smell was husky, grainy, and earthy with that unique anchor yeast aroma. much more going on in the nose than a macro even at a lesser abv. taste is light and crisp, with some bready malts interspersed with the aforementioned aromas. no residual sugars are detectable. while light in body, mouthfeel is surprisingly ok, i expected it to feel thinner than it did. carbonation is just right for this beer. drinkability is great due to the abv. if i ever need to slow it down (getting too buzzed) but still wanted to drink beer, this would be a good choice. great lawnmower beer, shit, at 3.3% you could have this for breakfast.

MrMcGibblets, Jun 25, 2007
Photo of Dansting
3.65/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Clear golden color with a light white head. Slight lacing. Aroma is light and almost smells like toast. Definitely different. Easy-drinking mouthfeel. Flavor is small, like its name suggest, with a slightly hoppy and bitterness to it. I'm a fan of Anchor, and this is a decent beer. I'll buy it again.

Dansting, Jun 21, 2007
Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
72 out of 100 based on 435 ratings.