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Anvil Ale ESB | AleSmith Brewing Company

very good
325 Reviews
For Trade:
Anvil Ale ESBAnvil Ale ESB

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

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 03-10-2002

User Reviews
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Reviews: 325 | Ratings: 653
Photo of zeff80
3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a golden amber color with a bubbly/soapy, off-white, two-finger head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of citrus and roasted malt aroma.

T - It tasted of tons of hops and very grassy. Great roasted malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good ESB.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has that ipa appearance where it looks almost orange. Over an inch of white head. Aroma was hoppy as an esb ever will be. But somehow, despite that, you still get the different english yeast and malt smells.

This tastes like what I remember red hook esb tasting like in the mid90s, real bitter, real good stuff. Somehow it got bland, my palate prolly just changed. Unlike most modern esb, this truly was extra bitter. The caramel, toffee and peat like malt flavors really matched well with it. This is pretty much a hybrid ipa/esb from San Diego.

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Photo of otzhorse
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Ruby amber color with very little head that disappears quickly
S: Mild malt smell with floral and almost metallic aroma. It's not a bad smell but different
T: Nice malty flavor with plenty of caramel it finishes with a nice hop flavor that resembles a nice earthy flavor
M: This is smooth and well carbonated. It goes down very easily
O: Based on the smell I wasn't sure I would like this beer. It had some strange aroma's radiating from it but once you drink it, it is fantastic. It makes Fuller's ESB taste like Miller lite versus and IPA. This is a top notch ESB and I look forward to drinking much much more of it.

1 pt 6 oz bottle into a pint glass

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Photo of ravenskana
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper amber from the 1 pt 6 oz bottle with a decent amount of foam up top. Hops are well under control here, some carbonation, good amount of mild malt, with each sip i found yself enjoying this more and more. Works well with a nice sandwich for a late lunch. Alesmith says this is their interprtation of a British-style pub ale, and it reminds me of that too from my visit there.

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Photo of delta490
3.51/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper, slightly cloudy, with a thin medium-light tan head. The aroma and the taste are both light, faintly malty with a hint of fruit. Both are pretty mild for the style, not particularly robust. The taste has slightly more oomph. The body is a little thin, too but not as much as the flavor and smell.

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Photo of 57md
3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark copper with a thin layer of head. The body is a touch thin for the style. Slightly sweet maltiness leads the way in the flavor profile. The finish is slightly drier.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a clear amber with a solid head. The aroma is very bready, almost like fresh dough, with a solid background of cedar. The flavor is rich at first, filled with decadent but subtle chocolate, brown bread, yeast, butterscotch, and cream. The slight hop presence saunters in at the end. The creamy, joyous mouthfeel pulls the whole beer together. This is a great beer, perfect when you want to dive into a creamy cloud of hearty goodness.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.23/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a nice light cream colored head and stay around for a while but ultimately dissipates. The beer itself is a clear dark amber that is close to a strong copper. The look is pretty good and seems inviting.

The beer smell is very good. The smell is very balanced between the hops and the malts. The malts are a strong bready and a really nice caramel note that mix well with the lightly bitter hop notes. The hop notes are a bit grassy but still very good.

The taste is very good. Despite having the same notes, the taste is a bit more malt heavy than the smell. The taste still has the bready taste but the caramel note is much stronger than in the smell. The hops are also a bit weaker but still detectable.

The feel is good. The feel is a little bit heavy but still good. The beer has a light biting carbonation and a medium body. The beer has a sticky finish to it and smooth feel.

Overall, a very good ESB and worthy of being counted as an example of the style. The taste and smell hit the right spot and while the feel is a bit heavy, it isn't off-putting.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an auburn tinted copper body with one finger head and no lace. Aroma is mixed with citric, earthy hops and a bread/caramel malt base. Easy drinking, smooth bodied beer that has a fuller feel thanks to a breadlike punch (not biscuit) and this balances with earthy, spicy hops and a caramel/toffee malt sweetness that gives off a little sweet kick on finish. For a rather easy going beer there are lots of little things going on behind the scenes that make this one real enjoyable.

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Photo of MUTINY
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber into a shaker pint.

A: Pours a vibrant clear amber with 1/2" white head that recedes fairly quickly. Retention & lacing are both pretty good.

S: Mild malt components with a strong hop undertone. Lots of graham cracker. A pretty solid general bitterness throughout.

T: Comes on with a very nice toffee, caramel & graham cracker malt character. Bittering hops become more noticeable through the mid palate. the finish is just slightly off-sweet with a lingering hop/licorice character.

M: Moderate carb married to a full, rich malt body. exceptionally crisp finish. Really nice.

O: Great example of the style.

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Photo of muldersha
4.04/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Purchased a 22oz brown glass bomber from the cooler at Beermongers in SE Portland. Stamped with a bottling date of 05/07/15

Pours a deep ruddy amber color with an impressive creamy light tan head. Very slow to dissipate and leaves an incredibly healthy chunky lacing. Very appetizing appearance.

Rich aromas of roasted walnuts, hazelnuts, brown sugar, hearty multi-grain pumpernickel, sunflower seeds, dates, toffee, gingersnap cookies, and raisin bran.

It sports a medium to medium-full body despite having only 5.5% ABV. A very rich and malty body, almost chewy. A pleasant dollop of nut meat bitterness and steely hops on the finish keeps it lithe and refreshing despite a subtle maple syrup undercurrent.

Overall, this is some fantastic stuff. It smells and tastes a little like a snack someone from the granola crowd would cook up for an afternoon hike after spending too much time at Bob's Red Mill in Milwaukie. However, maybe that means I can classify it as a health food.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.11/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bomber as served in a pint glass.

First of all, when I opened the bottle party of the glass room chipped of and fell into the bottle. I was able to fish it out and full a glass enough to review this one. That was a disappointing start.

Appearance: pale brown with a nice 1 finger head that sank to a small run of foam. Very clear and hopefully glass-fre . Lol

Nose: chocolate, toffee, caramel, bread pudding, slightly fruity, prunes

Taste: malt backbone with a slight sweetness that is cut well by the hops. Juice fruit center with a quick and sweet finish.

Overall: I wish I could have enjoyed the whole bottle. I really liked this beer and will seek it put in the future. Great example of the classic ESB style.

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Photo of hopsputin
4.04/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a: a dark dark copper & purple color. some dark ruby red notes as well. 1 finger frothy tan head that looks a bit rocky and marshmallow-like

s: a very rich caramel malt, with some sticky toffee. huge biscuty & bready notes as well. some generic juicy berries in here as well, with the softest citrusy hop aroma

t: taste follows the nose. its quite smooth. those big bready notes up front are followed by the rich carmel and toffee. nice use of malts here. faint berries, and some of those extremely mild (not bitter) citrus hops. follows the nose pretty close. nice.

m: its the lighter side of medium. its a mixture of a bit silky and creamy, with a small amount of sticky syrupy-like feel. i'd like to see it a bit less carbonated - thats all.

o: its a real solid beer. the style itself isn't overly complicated, so it needs to be a clean beer to succeed as an ESB for me, and this does. if you want some malty goodness, pick this up. the only thing i can say against this is that i actually would like slightly less carbonation. good stuff!

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Much rich brown color with great clarity. There's a half inch of khaki colored head with tightly packed foam. Brussels lacing. Aroma is of caramel scented light malt and copper tinged British hops. The taste is a nice caramel malt flavor with just a kiss of British copper tinged hops. The mouth is dry and a bit chalky.

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Photo of RyanK252
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours deep hazelnut ruby brown with a creamy light brown head that settles and laces well.

S: Roasted malt, a bit bready and earthy, and a touch of toffee.

T: Bready malt, a bit earthy, a little toffee, some light coffee, subtle fruitiness, and a touch of light citrus hop and roasted malt bitterness .

M: On the heavier side of medium body with moderate carbonation, quite smooth.

O: Maybe not quite what I expected, but not bad.

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +21.8%

Biscuity malt aromas joined by light citrus, a touch of toffee, hints of chocolate
Pours a brilliant ruby garnet mahogany under a pillowy 3" reddish orange tinted finely bubbled foam cap that slowly descends and leaves thick lace.
Malt driven palate with biscuity malt, a touch of fresh baked bread crust, light fruit finished with a moderate, balancing earthy, spicy hop bitterness.
Very creamy medium body and medium very finely bubbled carbonation

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Photo of Jeffreysan
5/5  rDev +28.2%

22 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a pretty, golden amber color with two full fingers of white head that slowly dissolved into a lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very malty and bready, like freshly baked sourdough bread. There’s also some caramel, black pepper, clover.

Taste: Damn near perfect English ESB! Malty, peppery, slightly sweet and slightly bitter. Lots of freshly baked bread, followed by black pepper and caramel-like sweetness, and finished by some mild, nicely balanced hoppy bitterness. As I stated earlier, a damn near perfect English ESB!

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and smooth, due to hardly any carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 5.5%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this is a damn near perfect English ESB, and fans of ESBs should definitely give it a try. I’m certainly going to get some more of this!

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Photo of seedyone
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Really pretty beer when it arrived. Luxurious head that left a reasonable lacing. Great copper color. Really nice balance.And at a polite 5.5% I'm in.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle poured into a shaker pint.

Deep amber with 1 finger of creamy, off-white head. Excellent clarity with moderate carbonation.

Caramel, raisin, and brown bread.

Biscuit and caramel maltiness. Touches of brown sugar, raisin, and Tootsie Roll.

Medium-light bodied, smooth, clean, and refreshing.

Simple, delicate, and masterfully balanced. Cheers!

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.74/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Swung by local bbq and craft beer joint, bobbique, for some lunch and a pint. Served in a glass mug. Brew is transparent brown w a thin creamy almost tan head. Nose is malt forward with a really nice crystallized malt caramel thing going on in the taste. A bit toasted. Easy drinker really nice example of the style, but on the earthier side of the spectrum. I wouldn't expected less earth and more hop from alesmith.

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Photo of SABERG
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a modified tulip at 50deg.

A - Caramel colored, clarity is nice, light thin topping of white froth.
S - Tones of warm dark fruit, burnt sugar, and warm wheat toast.
T - Caramel, brown sugar, a hint of floral at the end.
M - Uniform coating that lingers for some time. The carbonation is low giving the mouth feel a slickness.
O - I find the offering a little thick, the flavor is complex, and the balance is wonderful
I will revisit and report back.

Cheers all

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

a fine esb, which has the odd misnomer of being called bitter, when in fact these are sweeter, grain driven beers. perhaps in my case bitter has a very different, more diabolical meaning. it was brew that started as a celebration of a big win in the stanley cup playoffs last night, guzzling the sweet copper colored liquid right from the bottle in jovial preparation for what was sure to be a winnable game 7 forthcoming. to me it was a beer that would taste awful good out of the cup itself in a few more months. however, as the aromas of burnt sugar, english toffee, and old world ale yeast moved into flavors of maple syrup, candied apples, and werthers candies, the unthinkable happened. the home team gives up two goals in the final two minutes, and lost early in overtime, a situation that had less than a 0.4% chance of occurring. as jubilation turned to head in hands curses to the powers that be, and soft goaltending, anvil esb went from a celebratory quaff to a sorrow drowning full bodied sweet beer i almost resented as much as i liked it to start. and as a playoff beard that began on game 1 of 82 way back in early october fell hair by hair into an already dirty white sink and razor burn irritation set in, the final lukewarm dregs of this beer were of little comfort. this beer, like the play of my team, was good for some 95% of its performance, but it ends up middling by the end. an all too frequent collapse not only for my team, but for this underwhelming style. the parallels are too many to name. 22 ounces never experienced to much emotion, from the summit of the greatest mount, to hopeless dejection that will span the entire summer...

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Photo of msquared36
3.45/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Caramel color with a thick tan head. Nice lacing.

Smells of black pepper and musty wool. There is something about the scent that is familiar but not necessarily pleasant.

Strong taste of caramel up front, though without the sweetness. Finishes with a crisp, balanced bitterness.

Tiny bubbles that make the beer smooth.

Overall a tasty beer. Not as drinkable as other ESBs though.

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Photo of philbe311
3.72/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Two plus fingers worth of active lush slightly creamy off-white colored froth comprised of medium-to-large sized bubbles... Rock solid retention... Ultimately there is a full, mostly thick, veil of lacing and a thin-to-moderate collar... The color is a darker than expected deep copperish bronze... There is a little ruby hue that lingers underneath as well... Loaded with micro-to-small bubbled carbonation that rises throughout... Gobs of lacing cling to the sides of the glass... A very nice looking ESB...

S - Bright and vibrant nose... Loaded with malty goodness... Short bread... Caramel... Toffee... Loads of airy light bready notes... A light layer of euro-hoppiness lingers a bit beneath the surface...

T - Mostly a malt bomb on the palate... Lots of bready malts... Caramel... Some light toffee as well.. There is a light hop presence... Also a bit of a metallic twang, but it's rather enjoyable...

M - Medium bodied... Smooth... Sleek... Even and consistent... Mostly lush with just a touch of dryness on the finish...

D - Insanely quaffable... A very nice ESB and another solid offering from Alesmith... There is a reason I consider them to be one of the top breweries going... Solid for the style... Solid regardless of style... Just a solid enjoyable brew... There's a lot going on here with a low 5.5% ABV... Good stuff...

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Photo of smakawhat
3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Real perfect copper red body, and deep crystal amber shine. Head is fluffy light tan evenly made, and grows a nice controlled four fingers tall. Light soapy lacing just coats the glass, and some fine white thin carbonation crawls on the sides. Great looking beer.

Large hints of loose leaf tea. Heavily herbal, but with some clove spice aromatics to match. Cinnamon. Some faint sweetness of caramel hiding in the background as well. Some almost creamy senses of milk too, very inviting.

Palate comes with a bit of flat mouthfeel. Slightly wet bodied, but with some leafy hops and large herbal tea like presence. Hints of mint, oolong on the finish. Soft tannins as well that coat but are also still quite wet. Hop forward a bit for a bitter, with the herbality growing nicely on the finish. Malt depth and sweetness is missing and classic esters.

If there's one thing I find about bitters is they usually have a good malt presence and this one while relishing some great herbal presences is really missing some malt depth. Some depth or crackery or biscuit and caramel oomph to this would really set this beer on fire.

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Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 325 ratings.