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Anchor California Lager - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anchor California LagerAnchor California Lager

Educational use only; do not reuse.

775 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 775
Reviews: 147
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 11.48%
Wants: 17
Gots: 114 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Lager |  4.90% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: esdeebrew on 02-15-2013

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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 775 | Reviews: 147 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JoeLacy
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of biboergosum
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

355ml bottle, thanks to United Distributors rep Susie for the sample - see, I remembered your name (even if I didn't spell it correctly)!

This beer pours a clear, bright medium golden yellow hue, with four brash fingers of puffy, foamy, and somewhat bubbly off-white head, which leaves some decent broken webbed lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells of musty, almost meaty bready pale malt, yeasty muscat white wine and rising dough that's been left on the counter too long unfortunately providing a more focused olfactory sense, along with some meek and muted citrus and leafy hops notes. The taste is more of the same - yeasty, somewhat crackery pale malt, vinous fruit, some rather overripe lemon, and, well 'organic'-seeming grassy, weedy hops.

The carbonation is moderate, in a tightly frothy sense, the body an agreeable medium weight for the already sort of subverted style, and smooth, but with that weird house yeast caveat. It finishes pretty dry, the crackery, bready, yeasty, and brut white wine esters as strong as ever were.

At first glug, all I could think of was how much this resembles Anchor's purportedly (and thankfully) distinct steam beer (trademark duly omitted) - that weird yeastiness, bordering on some sort of unwelcome bacterial action, and an everyman pale maltiness. Colour me still uninterested, yet at the same time thankful for the freebie, in the sense that I didn't blow north of 15 bucks on a wasted (in the entirely wrong sense of word) sixer.

Photo of smithj4
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of thatoneguymike
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I wish this particular beer was more readily available in my region. We seem to get a rather limited subset of the Anchor lineup to date. I had yet to see this one here in Alberta at all until today, on tap at Beer Revolution and going in 12 oz. tulip glasses. Coolness. You know a brewery is shooting for historical accuracy when they single-hop a beer with Cluster, which is surprisingly still grown in this era during which Cascade is now considered old-fashioned by some. Somewhat unusual color for the style, a golden apple juice hue that is just darkening into a coppery bronze, with maybe an inch of white bubbles on top. Aroma is rather vinous and citric, evoking white wine, lemon zest, fresh grass, and subdued doughy malt. Tingles the nose. Taste includes these elements as well, with extremely crisp and dry middle and end sections. Some faint grass and green tea notes accompany something else that evokes sour fruit and tannins (think quinine from tonic water, perhaps), with a hint of butter (diacetyl?). The total package is just a hair thicker than the usual aggressively carbonated lager. Leaves a nice sheetweb lacing on the glass. If this could be found in bottles here I'd gladly pony up the extra dough the next time I need a 6-pack of yard beer. Like an AAL crafted to have more floral, spicy hop notes and none of that cloying artificial sweetener character. You'll obviously be able to find more aggressively hopped lagers if you are so inclined, but this take on an American classic hits crisp and refreshing clear out of the ballpark despite a slightly thicker mouthfeel.

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of Aash
4.5/5  rDev +23%

Photo of Kegatron
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of BrewClint
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of mdagnew
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of Gregvg
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of Spider889
4/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of datalager
4.16/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not sure why I seem to like this beer so much more than the average vote. Perhaps I got a strange "magic" batch. Maybe people are rating the beer against IPA's??? For the intended style this beer is very good, in my opinion, and attractive in that it looks like a beer without apologizing. No, there's no "peaked egg white" in the head. No, it's not ruby red or opaque black. It's an American lager. Rich amber body and medium bubbles in a whitish froth.

Profile is quite similar to Sam's ubiquitous Boston Lager. There was just a touch more nut on the nose, and slightly less malt in the finish in comparison. Good bready notes ground the experience. The beer was extremely easy going in and going down. No need to be fancy here. Just a flavorful beer.

Overall, for the style, I'd say this is an excellent American lager and certainly worth having in the fridge. I only had one of these in my recent mixed case from Craft Beer Cellar. I'll have to see if I can get a six pack locally.

Photo of kylehay2004
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.59/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


A little surprised to see this today at the COOP... Picked up a few bottles and am getting to one while taking care of some business for tomorrow...

Poured into my thin tulip.. clear golden.. small bubble white head rises up and drops pretty quickly but the cap leaves nice drapes of lacing.

Nose shows clean pale malt with just enough hoppiness to balance.. smells fantastic.

Good balanced bitterness that just allows a subtle pale malt sweetness to get interesting... Hop flavors are sorta grassy and inviting.. This is a really well done brew.. Perfect for an evening barbecue..

Light/medium body ... good bubble.. nicely drinkable..


Photo of SonictheBeerhog
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of jkeefe1800
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Photo of SkinniePost
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of WDJersey
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of SB_Brewmaster
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of Daktah
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of artoolemomo
3.57/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance- Pours up an okay amount of head which looks to have pretty good retention. The head is a fluffy, pure cotton-white while the body is a clear golden copper that glows orange and bronze when held up to the light. Good lacing with patches of sheeting.

Nose- Fairly subdued and pretty much what you would expect from an American lager. Grain and cornflakes with small touches of white grape and chalk. No presence at all from the hops. Swirling doesn't add anything to the picture either.

Taste- Shows a lot of the nose but adds to it with a subtle addition of hops. Definite grain and cornflakes that hint at fresh baked bread. Some cracker and biscuit which moves into chalkiness that mingles with hop notes of earth, mineral, and slight woodiness. This woodiness builds and takes over the palate to some extent. Slight vinosity of white grapes to even apples. Has many of the notes of an AAL but it shows them in a much better light than your BMC beers. The creamy mouthfeel goes a long way in making these somewhat lackluster notes (at least to my palate) a little more interesting. Light notes of citrus- mostly orange. Definitely shows the influence that German brewers had on American beers before Prohibition but I think I still prefer actual German lagers (and ones made by the Commons). Above average to good beer. Very well executed but not a preferred style of mine.

Mouthfeel- This really sets this beer apart and I don't understand why more modern lagers and AALs don't try to replicate such a mouthfeel. It would definitely allow them compete more with craft beer. Good carbonation with a light carbonic touch. Creamy and smooth texture which expands in your mouth. Almost airy. Nice dry finish.

Drinkability- Very easydrinking and perfect for spring or summer. Much more interesting than an AAL. Typical Anchor price but probably not something I would buy again.

Overall- A definite lawnmower, BBQ, and Asian food beer. Above average to good. Not my favorite style but I would drink this if it were offered. A must try if you've never had a pre-Prohibition style lager before.

Photo of KarlHungus
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

Anchor California Lager from Anchor Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 775 ratings.