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Anchor California Lager | Anchor Brewing Company

208 Reviews
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Anchor California LagerAnchor California Lager

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California's first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic beer. Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and our own lager yeast, this all-malt brew is kräusened and lagered in our cellars. Its golden color, distinctive aroma, creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and smooth finish make Anchor California Lager® a delicious celebration of California’s unique brewing heritage.

Added by esdeebrew on 02-15-2013

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Reviews: 208 | Ratings: 1,073
Photo of Malt_Man
2.99/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Served cold from 355ml can into pilsner glass.

L) Darkish golden colour, slight haze. Huge surge of small bubbles. Dense white head. Actually looks superb.

S) Barely anything, but it is cold.

T) Quite a bit of hop bitterness in there, a bit of a weird fruity flavour which I would classify as an off-flavour in a lager although I am sure it is deliberate from a brewery of this standing. A bit of a rubbery flavour at the back of the mouth.

F) Dries the mouth out a bit, a fairly strong bitter aftertaste.

O) Well, it definitely tries to do something different for a lager, but the bitterness and skanky off-flavour just make this a bad one for me, I don't like it. Give me a Steam Beer instead.

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Photo of FriedSlug
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice clear good. Aromas of flowers, bread and a sweetness that is sort of like honey. The taste is nicely sweet and has floral hops and a mild bready facet. Nice solid lager with a clean finish.

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Photo of beergoot
3.91/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Crystal clear, dark gold body; fluffy, billowy, white head; sticky lacing along the glass. Sweet, honey aroma. The flavor mimics the aroma; perhaps a lot of crystal malt; light cereal grain notes. Light body; crisp; mostly dry finish.

Light, very flavorful lager with just a twinge too much sweetness, otherwise a solid offering overall.

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Photo of Chaz
3.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper-golden in color, topped with a tannish, off-white head*. Looks a bit like a Maerzen or Festbier based on its coloration.

The nose suggests nothing more than a classic ale lager, and somewhere in-between a Pils and something like an Export Lagerbier -- it's much more bready and full than an average Euro (or below average) Euro Pale Lager, however. Sweet malts, honey-ish and floral hops notes, a bit of metallic twang, but no single dominant American or C hop profile, so I'm happy for a clean, old school lager.

Sweet and a touch tangy on the first sip, lighter fruity esters in the aromatics, and a lighter bitterness. Fairly dry finish, but there are some great aromatics (honey, tea-like, floral) going on, here. It's not a sweet, bland, one-dimensional lager by any means, and the bitterness is so subtle that it's almost an afterthought.

Mouthfeel seems a bit lighter than average for the style, but this isn't a "light" or low-calorie / diet beer profile by any stretch. As in the first initial sip and subsequent tastes, the profile is consistent and coats the palate, tongue, roof of the mouth, etc. Carbonation is average for the style, and is lightly-scrubbing in this fresh canned example.

Overall, a better than average American pale lager, and recommended to anyone who needs a Pils substitute or a break from the Attack of the Hops. ;)

*I poured it into a 400mL German Pils glass and the head stood for an impressive three minutes as I tried to take an adequate photo for WBAYDN? It's a nice looking beer, but looks as it should, for a fresh beer, which is why I rate it as average rather than above average or more.

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Photo of Steelocation
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bought this in a 12 pack in 12oz bottles. I saw no expiration date and the bottle was labeled "5LP." I poured it into a 12 ounce pint size glass.

Appearance: cloudy and golden with lively bubbles. It had a very little head but to be fair, I tilted the glass and poured it slowly.

Smell: vary malty and sweet with floral scents.

Taste: It has a nice dry finish with some aftertaste. Very strong in carbonation and hoppy.

Mouth-feel: Carbonated, crisp, and goes down a little coarse. Letting it sit in your mouth long enough and you will still feel the carbonation.

Overall: it's a fruity lager which reminded me of Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Not to be mistaken as a Samuel Adams but the fruity part. I enjoyed that it remains well carbonated even until the end. A nice lager to have around the house but prefer to bring another kind of lager to parties.

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Photo of dar482
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer offers bready and biscuity malts with a grassy and earthy hop quality, with some fruity notes coming through, possibly from the hops or warmer fermentation, onto a medium bitterness on the finish.

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Photo of n1ckels
5/5  rDev +33.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Famed Wine Critic Eric Asimov, published a review of Lagers (Lagers Enjoy a Renaissance) in the NY Times March 12, 2015. The top 4 blind rated lagers were Full Sail, Anchor, Brooklyn, and Atlas Brew Works (all 3 stars). After reading this, I made it my mission to try more lagers. Was not impressed with the Full Sail. I liked Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold--good but not excellent. Anchor was and still is a revelation. I've been drinking it over a year now, and its brilliance has yet to fade. In fact, I enjoy it more than ever.

This is the best lager in America. Each time I drink it, I am reminded at how simple and satisfying it is. I could drink it anytime of day, any day of the year. And I always crave it more than the last time. It is crisp. It is exactly what I want from a beer. Too often I crave a very specific beer or style, indulge, and am disappointed. And this seems to always happen with IPAs. Sculpin and Hopslam, for example, I remember them being so wonderful the first time. What happened? Now they bore me to tears.

Anchor has made a timeless, perfect beer here. When I find this beer, I always buy it and usually I buy out the store. It is that good. In some ways, it is plain. One could argue it has no soul, it's colorless like the Murakami character. It's no flavor explosion, but we must ask ourselves, is a flavor punch to our face what we want out of a classic beer? What do you want out a beer? There's no novelty here. I believe this lager will be here for decades. There's too many ales, pilsners suck, and there aren't many transcendent lagers. This is one. You of big egos may try, knowing you won't be impressed, and say so. But I guarantee you will find yourself coming back to this. And I will warn you- you will pass up other 'amazing' beers in your fridge until this is gone. Prepare to get married. It is flawless, an American masterpiece of fermentation. Introduce to anyone of any taste, and they will enjoy. Trust me.

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Photo of Squire123
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Legacy lives on.

Call me old fashioned, but, wait a minute, I am old. Skipping past that (like I could skip) I am glad to see this reintroduction. Oh, I'm not saying it's the same as the original or anything, yet it is a look back. And why not, like a classic car, they made some good stuff back when. This beer showcases Cluster hops which in one form or another have been used in this Country for about 300 years now which is quite remarkable when you think about it. Golden color, refreshing hop forward flavor, solid malt frame, good texture and taste, lots to recommend it and no flaws that I can find. Shows what the simple approach can accomplish.

Put this on your buy list. Write it down now so you don't forget.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a stange.

A: Golden-Amber color with a big, sticky head. Great retention, thick and spunky webs of lacing.

S: Sweet pale malts and some soft biscuity and bready aromas. Hops give off soft grassy, oily, and floral notes. Fragrant, nuanced, balanced, and delicious smelling.

T: Sweet, bready, and biscuity malt. Oily hops bring a modest bitterness and flavors of freshly cut grass. Orange blossom. Beautifully balanced finish brings oily hops and sweet bready malt together.

M: Medium-light body. Full and easy with some soft creaminess and just the right amount of weight and substance. Ample prickling carbonation brings a deep crispness.

O: This impressed the hell out of me. Hands down one of the better American-made lagers out there, and it has a great sense of history and even terroir. So easily quaffable too. A real beer drinker's beer.

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Photo of HoppyBastard
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Shaker pint glass, there is no "best by" date that I can find.

APPEARANCE: pours a clear, light copper color with less than one finger off-white head that quickly dissipated until just a ring of small bubbles remained around the glass, very little lacing on the glass, medium carbonation.

SMELL: caramel and toasted bread.

TASTE: initially sweet caramel and toasted bread then an earthy, metallic hop profile.

PALATE: medium body and carbonation.

OVERALL: this is a very unusual lager, it's malt forward and the cluster hops are very earthy, I'm glad I tried it but not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of doktorhops
3.81/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Continuing on the vein of Californian Lagers (see my last review was on Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner, n00b!) I came across Anchor’s own take on Lager, and given that they were plum out of plums (and more importantly Nooner Pilsner) at my local Plum and Beer Emporium, I decided to give Anchor a shot at impressing me. The bottle label claims this is based on California’s first Lager brewed in 1876 in an ice pond, how poetic, and beery... I’m sold.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a stein.

A: A not so lively pour somehow produced a 3.5 cm white head that Odin would be proud of... I’m entranced whilst waiting for it to drop down. The body a hazed amber-tinged golden colour, also quite entrancing. Odin is pleased Anchor. 10/10.

S: A bit on the doughy side with half-baked bread notes, a subtle grainy character - bit like a wet bag of barley (nothing wrong with that), a dab of honey, and a light grassy hop note... aroma is very much slanted towards yeast/malt, but hey it’s a Lager, what did you expect? 8/10.

T: Flavour is a touch muted, but we were expecting a bit from the aroma so it’s no biggie, with all of the above: half-baked bread, grains, honey, grassy hops. The yeast and malts do dominate the hops, but there is a touch of bitterness towards the mostly crisp/dry finish. Aftertaste is a bit of that old Lager chestnut: vegetal matter and detracts slightly from the overall experience. Anchor needs to sort that shit out. 7/10.

M: Borderline medium bodied with a light carbonation... Lagers don’t seem to be as fizzy as I remember them, maybe it’s just me, oh well I prefer less gas anyway. 7/10.

D: Pretty decent as far as Lagers go, and we all know I’m not the biggest fan of Lagers anyhow (although in summer they sure can hit that spot) but I think Anchor have done well here without making this a “Wow!” beer like Sierra Nevada’s Nooner [two separate styles I know, but Lagers and Pilsners are so close that if they were humans they wouldn’t be able to legally marry]. In any case this is a beer that I would probably get again, though the aftertaste needs work... could use a touch more oomph in the hops department like Nooner... so that’s a semi-hesitant recommendation from me, with provisos. 8/10.

Food match: I’m going to err on the side of pizza with this brew.

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Photo of singletary
3.56/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I drank it from a 12 oz bottle. Nice taste and smell to it, has a bit of a bite to it but still very drinkable. I would have another one of this in the future. Overall a very nice lager.

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Photo of AndrewMichael
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, drank straight from it.
Nice, crisp flavors and an easy drinker.
A touch of Euro feel to the lager, but overall, very good.
I would definitely consider this as a go to lager.

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Photo of Burnthedevice
3.54/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Reminded me a lot of Pilsner Urquell in its workmanlike approach and classic balance. Earthy. Not exciting exactly, but good. I could go for one of these once in a while when the mood strikes. Very nice, soft mouthfeel.

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Photo of Bunman3
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is a very agreeable lager - a lovely find in a small pub with a quirky beer menu. It pours, looks and smells on point for a lager - white fizzy head, active carbonation, and a bready odor. The taste is lovely - malt forward and crackery - reminiscent of stoned wheat thins in the best way possible. The finish is extremely dry, with just enough hopping to remind you this is a well-crafted brew.

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Photo of GOBLIN
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not bad and it's rather enjoyable through the first half of the can. But after that it just kinda flattens out like it's been sitting in the sun too long. Overall, it has a nice smooth hoppy finish but nothing too exciting. I'll revisit someday

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Photo of mmmbeer89
2.55/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

It's not bad on first drink but it has a coppery aftertaste which isn't very pleasant and it's not great tasting anyway. A middle of the road forgetable beer.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.44/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark gold to amber appearance, 1" of white head. Aroma was largely neutral, maybe a minor amount of hops (Cluster) and lager yeast that wasn't pungent at all.

Lots of barley noticeable, good to check that in a lager, no adjunct corn or rice here. So rare I talk about malt in a lager. Less fruity yeast than in the steam ale. Cluster hops well placed in the flavor and bittering, floral.

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Photo of AC-Mivsek
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours golden, with a quickly fading minimal white head
S-Toasted carmel malt, buttered popcorn, sweet and rich with clean hops
T-Follows the nose, quite buttery, malt heavy, hops finish it off clean.
M-Super smooth, medium body, moderate carbonation. Multiple of these would be no problem.
O-Wow this surprised me. This is a nice smooth malt driven lager, sweet but crisp and clean. Very interesting.

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Photo of Phoneguy
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured a golden hue with a 1/4" head which quickly dissipated. Bread & faint hop aromas. Slightly sweet initially with a slightly dry finish and plenty of body. A good pre-prohibition style lager.

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Photo of Wiffler27
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours dark gold with a solid head.

smells slightly toasted and has some of that lager skunk.

taste is toasty and bready. not bad but not what i expect out of a lager. goes down smooth, easy to drink but nothing special.

not my favorite lager but it isn't bad. toasty for a lager, not crisp or clean.

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Photo of TeamMathis
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Out of a can. I really enjoy this. It has a very enjoyable bready and honey taste. Excellent for a summer drink or a lunch drink. Light, but quite flavorful. I'd get it again.

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Photo of beershrine
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz Cans

Pours very nicely into a 17oz British glass. Clear golden and bright
Smells hoppy and fresh
Taste is fantastic a little aggressive on the hop load
Mouth feel lingers hops with a malt background, stays on the tongue awhile
I like Cluster hops just don't over use them. In 1876 they probably didn't use
as much hops as today and they were only half as strong so with authenticity
they are way off.

Overall it's a very good beer. I will buy again.
Beautiful packaging great job.

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Photo of Spike
4.02/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Hazy, gold with an orange sheen. No carbonation visible. Two finger, fluffy head dissipates to a cap but leaves plenty of lacing.

S: Quite a prominent nose for a lager. Malt up-front with grains in the background. No nasty adjuncts.

T: Spicy, herbal, dry, hoppy. Four words never used to describe anything that came out of

F: Medium body with a good, solid level of bitterness. A little sweetness on the tip of the tongue. Plus creamy carbonation.

O: A great American lager. Drink it cold. Drink it all the time. If this is what American beer used to taste like in the 1800s it makes prohibition even more incomprehensible.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Slightly hazy brass with towers of pitted sandstone head that webs. 4
Lots of grass, flowers and hay with thin honey malts underneath. 4
Thread of pils sweetness, a touch of tartness, slight lemon, and some jagged herbal hops. 3.75
Slight orange peel end and ringing herbal tea linger.
Past light, round, some snap. 3.75

There is definite IBUs, which is not expected in an American lager. Should bite crisper in the body. Would like to know more about Cluster - there's a leafy thing to the hops that almost goes dank, and a citrus thing that seems almost proto-Cascade. Plenty more character than a macro, and some change from the expected lager profile.
Rough, in a good way. 3.75

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Anchor California Lager from Anchor Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 208 ratings.