Anchor California Lager - Anchor Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anchor California LagerAnchor California Lager

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

172 Reviews

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Reviews: 172
Hads: 920
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 9.55%
Wants: 26
Gots: 179 | 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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Reviews: 172 | Hads: 920
Photo of Tom_the_bomb
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

A super, historical salute! A great pale lager, hopped just right, and a tribute to Anchor's diversification! Love the cans !!! (though I'd suggest doing away with the red background, making it gold, and keeping the crest red.) (231 characters)

Photo of rangerred
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a slightly hazy light gold with a fairly thick for the style one finger white head. Good head retention although lacing is a bit lacking.

Aroma is very bready with some light floral and grassy notes from the hops. Anchor uses cluster hops in this and it does have that distinct American lager aroma.

Bready grain in the flavor along with a very prominent hop note of grass/hay like what was present in the aroma. Bitterness is moderate but does remain restrained. Extremely clean finish with incredible drink ability.

This might be one of the best pre-prohibition lagers I have had. It is a very clean beer with just enough bitterness to balance things out. It's crazy to think this is what American lagers used to taste like (766 characters)

Photo of tone77
3.59/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a golden color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of malts, sweet. Taste is malty, light hops, a bit of sweetness and grains, very easy drinking. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid lager and good session beer. (254 characters)

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a .5 liter mug.

Look: Clear honey golden body with lots of rising bubbles. Thick light cream colored head that doesn't recede for quite some time. A few random lines of foamy lacing.

Aroma: Malt sweetness and grains, a hint of wood and spicy hops.

Taste: Dry and woody up front. A touch of malt sweetness, almost honey-like, but otherwise bitter and hoppy.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat creamy, dry.

Overall: Balanced between malts and hops, pretty creamy. Rated this based on the idea of it being a pre-prohibition style lager. (537 characters)

Photo of DrDemento456
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Paid about $2.50 for the single along with their IPA which I will review next. I had this at a Metal Concert and was impressed by its hop bitterness, mild skunky flavors, and distinct biscuit malt flavors. Head was appropriate and drink ability was OK I am not the biggest fan of Lagers but it went down fairly smooth.

Overall if your looking for a smooth lager with a good hop bitterness pick this up. Love the label with the bear. (433 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.54/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appears a bright pale golden hue with a bright white head pillow like and thick.

Aroma has ripened citrus zest, dank floral, and marijuana notes a touch of sulfur on the nose as well.

Flavor super rich golden malts balance out earthy zest ridden earthy hops that a dug into each sip that crosses the palate.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with even sturdy carbonation that really brings out the aggressive nature of this pale lager.

Overall it’s easy to drink and quite pleasurable to consume I recommend at least a six pack to absorb it all in. (560 characters)

Photo of Pegasus
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Clear medium golden, with just a touch of haze, crowned by a coarse, snow-white head. Thick, scattered lacing adorns the glass walls. A modest amount of slight carbonation drifts lazily to the surface.

Aroma: Caramel and bread malts vie with modest herbal hops.

Taste: Begins with somewhat sharp herbal hope at the open, soon followed by lightly-toasted malts. AS the taste progresses, the hops assert themselves more firmly. With the porgression of the taste, the hops assert themselves more firmly, culminating with a sharp, metallic bitterness at the back of the mouth.

Mouth feel: Fairly full, with somewhat sharp carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: Very well-made, a tangible glimpse of a bygone era.

Presentation: Packaged in a custom brown glass bottle, with a twist-off crown, served in a Samuel Adams Boston Lager sensory glass. The label art, with its retro theme is really apropos, it feels like a beer rescued from an ancient cellar. (960 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cool looking can compliments of another6pack. Thanks, Trent for this and the OTHER 17 beers you sent me.

12oz can.

I didn't chill the can long enough as the pour brought a 3 finger head of foam but no worries, I'm a patient guy.

I now see a light golden coloured brew that now has a 1 finger HOF sitting on top. The foam shrinkage left some lacing.

It smells really toasty, a bit grainy, with a light nondescript bitterness.

The taste is very nice. A good toasted malt flavour backed up by grain and a pleasant citrus hop kick that keeps that toast from being TOO toasty. Yes siree, this is an easy drinker.

Light bodied, goodly amount of carbonation.

Wow, that can went quickly. Proof positive, that I dig it. (719 characters)

Photo of brewskifan55
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a snifter.

A: Clear, golden with a white half finger head with bubbles in its wake. Light lacing.

S: Lemons and corn with a malty backbone.

T: Solid. Grainy, malty, tangy.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. Very textured on the tongue. The mouthfeel is what sells it. The fullness takes it above just an average lager.

O: A good and sessionable lager, fine for summer cookouts. Everyone will like this one. (424 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.96/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours out a crystal clear golden color with a three-fingered head that leaves plenty of lacing

Smell: Doughy with a hint of graham cracker; slightly grainy and grassy

Taste: Doughy and crackery, up front, with lemongrass flavors developing; grainy and grassy, in the finish

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with crisp carbonation

Overall: I was expecting to be underwhelmed but this is actually rather good; a great crossover beer to bring to a BBQ (463 characters)

Photo of BeerWithMike
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampling right now on 7/3/14. Comes in a nice brown bottle with a great looking label. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a pilsner flute glass.

Pours a golden honey in color with a good 1/2 finger white thick head that lasts the whole drink. Lots of lacing is seen when sipped that clings along the sides of the glass. The aroma is of malts with a slight hint of caramel as well. More going on with the taste actually as the malts, crackers & biscuit and grassy hops comes together with a slightly dry finish. Crisp and clean with no harsh or bitter aftertaste. Perfect carbonation. Usually not a big fan of Pale Ales but this one is very good. (681 characters)

Photo of champ103
3.93/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a perfectly clear straw yellow color. A dense two finger white head forms with good retention and lace.
S: Biscuit malts, light grassy hops that lingers just a tad. Very simple, very clean.
T: Biscuit and cracker like malts with grassy hops again. Lager yeast that is ultra clean an soft. Light lingering bitterness fading in the finish.
M/D: A light body with nice effervescent carbonation. Ultra smooth at the same time and one of the cleanest beers I have had. All day with this. Really enjoyable.

Almost to simplistic, but so clean and enjoyable for the summer. Not my favorite lager, but already growing on me more as I finish the bottle. Something I really enjoy and will revisit. (697 characters)

Photo of fmccormi
4.28/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Straight pour from a 12oz can to a fat, stubby tulip; no canning or freshness date visible on the can itself, but I’m optimistic that this isn’t very old. Sold as a single at Whole Foods, the date of the UPC code was 6/14, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that it came into the store’s stock a couple of weeks after canning.

Appearance (3.75): About two and a half fingers of dense, creamy foam come off of the pour, capping a perfectly clear, honey-golden body sporting a steady stream of bubbles rushing to the surface. The head dies down slower than average, leaving first a cratered surface before leaving a thick film on the surface. Some suds and lacy legs stick around on the surface of the glass, showing decent but not outstanding lacing.

Smell (4.5): Extremely floral with a distinct but subtle lager yeast character—very, very nice. Honeyed biscuits, wild flowers, pear juice, fresh cut grass, some garden-fresh herbs, and soda bread. Smells fantastic for the style.

Taste (4.25): Spritzy citrus notes and a floral character jump right out, while still retaining a somewhat restrained, smooth hop character that blends with the malt body: biscuits, a touch of honey, and more soda bread. A solid, grassy-floral bitterness comes in next, showing green tea, edible flowers, and sweet grass. That bitterness moves into a mostly grassy finish that clings for half a minute before dying down. Really, really enjoyable.

Mouthfeel (4.25): Smooth carbonation leads the charge, followed by a light- side of medium-weight body with a dry feel that almost comes off as lightly tannic. The hops and dry malt, grassy with soda bread, really aid the dry feel. Very easy to drink, but satisfying at the same time.

Overall (4.25): This, in my opinion, is an outstanding example of the style, hitting all the right notes while still incorporating some distinct flourishes—light but not too light, refreshing but not without character, flavorful but not overpowering, etc. Awesome beer, and even better that it’s in a can. (2,041 characters)

Photo of thecheapies
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pale golden color with soft clarity. The head looked nice. Almost started to lace.

Barley malts, light hop grassiness, and semi-chalky yeast. Soft, but distinctive, with lagered smoothness.

Very clean. True barley grain flavors with a moderate bitterness level. Low in hop flavor, with some light grassiness. Easy drinking mouthfeel with balanced flavors, carbonation, and light body. (386 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.56/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Anchor attempts to take up back to history, even before the brewery itself was established. It's said to be based off the first lager to be brewed in the state of California. From a 12 ounce bottle, on to the beer:

Soapy with the head, yet sticky and retaining very well. Underneath is a bright golden colored beer with marvelous peppy bubbles running from bottom to top. The city which Anchor resides in is known for its sourdough bread. The aroma hints some of that sourdough goodness. Vague malt hits the nose too. Minerals and a twang of citrus come and go.

Simple lager with a wrinkle of fruitiness. The beer starts with a flavor of sweet grain with a hint of citrus. There's a pleasant fruity ester taste which I have come to expect from an amber lager, not a golden one. There's something in that yeast, me thinks. A light bitterness dries the beer out in the aftertaste.

A little different from other good lagers. Not necessarily better, but different. (964 characters)

Photo of Sam-VW
3.99/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Golden with a medium white head that dissipates to a thin cap. Bubbles rise slowly the whole time.

S - Lager malt, piny hops, slight toffee

T - Sweet malt followed by a long piney hop. Leaving a bitter grassy aftertaste

M - Great amount of carbonation to this style. Goes down well and one of the only lagers you can drink slowly and enjoy. (351 characters)

Photo of JamesQuaff
4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

Pours a deep golden color with a bit of an orange-copper cast. Head is a dense, foamy 2 finger cap of white that has good retention and leaves a thick coating of lacing. Lots of bubble action. Excellent looking pale lager.

A generous aroma for the style. Nice hop notes, fresh baked bread, a bit of funky umami. Very agreeable.

Also a generous dose of flavor for the style. Slightly sweet malts, generous hop bite, long crackery finish with the hop bitterness holding on right along with it. Great balance. Very tasty.

Crisp and light bodied, but not thin or watery. Carbonation doesn't have as much bite as the bubble show led me to expect. Eminently drinkable.

Overall this is an excellent example of an all-malt American pale lager, maybe one of the best I've had. Price is a tad steep for what it is, but it delivers a level of flavor and aroma that few others I've tried within the style can match. I've been experiencing a bit of a personal DIPA backlash recently, having had a few examples that just did not impress. Simplicity, balance and drinkability have been doing it for me more and more lately. This beer will be making appearances in my fridge this summer for sure.

EDIT 6/10/14 - I've been spending a lot more time with this beer and have upped my ratings a bit. I now consider this my personal favorite lager produced in the US. It possesses all the cleanliness, crispness and breadth/depth of flavor of the finest German lagers but is quintessentially 100% American. I will usually have 6 or 8 different brands and styles of craft beer in my fridge, all great brews, but when the CA Lager is amongst them, I almost always find myself instinctively reaching for just another one of them until they're gone. An absolute gem of a lager that stands up to anything produced in the world today. (1,851 characters)

Photo of mikeg67
3.45/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours golden with tall, long lasting, fluffy white head and nice lacing. Aroma is of piney hops and biscuit malt. Body is medium and crisp. Good amount of herbal hops balanced by biscuit malt on the palate. Finish is long and herbal. Nice summer brew. (265 characters)

Photo of Kinsman
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear golden effervescent body with a frothy white head resting nicely on top. Greet the nose with the slightly sweet note of cereal grain and biscuit. Earthy and herbal hop notes make themselves present as well.

A nicely balanced, clean and crisp lager on the palate with a bready malt flavor and a floral hop note coming along as well. A light touch of bitterness before it goes down oh so smooth. Medium-bodied with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, an excellent go-to beer that shows that yellow and fizzy pale lagers CAN be good! (538 characters)

Photo of Lordquackingstic
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a mini snifter.

A: Honey copper color with a generous pillowy white head. Lacing is nice and sticky.

S: Honey graham crackers, crisp malts, minor citrus notes.

T: Honey soaked oats, graham crackers, minor lemony note.

M: Effervescent, light, and refreshing. Slight prickly hoppy aftertaste. Very clean!

O: This is an above average lager that's definitely refreshing after a long day of work. Paired well with my expertly cooked turkey burger. I can see this being a great summer lager. I only picked up a single, but I'm definitely going to grab a six pack of it. Nothing mind blowing, but it's one of the better lagers I've had lately. (666 characters)

Photo of CHickman
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear gold color with a ton of bubbles racing up it to a 1 finger snow white head that faded and left minimal lacing and a thin layer on top; typical boring lager looks. Smells of malt, grains, light caramel and faint floral hops; smells like a sweet bready lager with a hint of fruit – pretty cut and dry nose with no exciting aspects. Tastes like malt, grains, wheat bread crust, caramel, light floral hops, herbs and pear with a little hoppy bitterness. The finish is malty with a lemon zest zing that trails off dry. Mouthfeel is light and crisp, with light carbonation, a very light body and a slightly bitter malty finish on the dry side. An above average malty lager, but not one I’d run out to get again anytime soon. (735 characters)

Photo of allengarvin
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

New Anchor, at least in Texas. It forms a pale gold beer in the glass with a dense though small head. The nose offers mostly grainy malt, though with a nice floral hop underpinning. The taste is decent for a session lager: some nice initial bitterness up front, light hop flavor, and clean malt that's only slightly grainy. Though fairly generic, it is pretty drinkable. (370 characters)

Photo of Brad007
4.31/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright gold with a huge head into my glass. How else to describe it? I haven't tried this beer yet.

Sweet and crisp with a great dose of Cluster hops. Also, my nose thinks that it's very dry.

Dry with sweet, grainy malt upfront and the hop bite somewhere toward the back. "Fluffy"

Rich, buttery finish accentuates this fine example of a lager.

I'm really impressed with this lager. Any drier and it would (vaguely) resemble that Carling Dry I had a few weeks back. (477 characters)

Photo of generallee
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12 oz bottle into a tall pilsner glass.

Appearance: It has a light golden body with some visible carbonation and a small white head that just hangs on to a thin layer of foam. Lacing is minimal.

Smell: There are some light biscuity maltiness and some mild grassy hop notes.

Taste / Palate: I am picking up the same biscuity and white bready maltiness. It’s dry overall and finishes with some mild grassy/herbal/botanical hop bitterness. The palate is light with a well carbonated feel. (533 characters)

Photo of hophugger
3.46/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Nice color, good head. Nice clean hop flavor and a slightly caramel flavor. A good beer if drinking just a few, but may get a little heavy after several...just sayin". Anchor beers are dependably consistent and this one does not let you down. Also, a touch of bread/yeast???. Head maintains and dissipates slowly... (315 characters)

Anchor California Lager from Anchor Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 172 ratings.