Anvil Ale ESB - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anvil Ale ESBAnvil Ale ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

593 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 593
Reviews: 315
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 10.82%
Wants: 39
Gots: 40 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 03-10-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 593 | Reviews: 315
Reviews by ccrida:
Photo of ccrida
3.79/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into a nonic, Anvil Ale is murky, ruddy brown with a large, fluffy light sand colored head that leaves lots of heavy lace. Super impressive for an ESB, no doubt, it looks more like a Belgian Amber!

Smell is pretty sweet, brown sugar. Good but simple. There's also a very slight tang that I first noticed in the taste (see below), but can subsequently find traces of in the smell as well.

Taste is good, smooth, sweet, it really reminds me of a Southern English Brown Ale, brown sugar and a touch of caramel, but with a nice herbal hop snap. There's a slight bite to the malt that I don't love though, very subtle, but reminds me a bit of a poorly made extract homebrew - not the whole beer, just that slight bite. Perhaps a bit yeasty too, this is a style that I'd probably rather be filtered (there was even some sludge on the lip of the bottle from laying it sideways on the way home).

Mouthfeel is pretty smooth, medium light bodied.

Drinkability is good, a tasty beer if you like sweet English style ales. I do, and haven't had a sweet brown ale in a while, they're just not to common here, but I really dig this one. Luckily for this American glutton, the ABV doesn't reflect their goofy tax system - or wait, they make weak beer for the nuance, yea right! Still, there's no reason to but this in an overpriced bomber, a 6 pack beer if I ever saw minus .5 for value.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have been wanting to try this for going on three or four years now,after having it I feel maybe a little underwhelmed.Poured into a imperial nonic a slight hazed copper/bronze with a creamy-like light tan colored one finger head that left broken rings of lace as it settled into a creamy mass.Aromas are the best trait of the beer,the sweet caramel really burst out at ya,juicy fruitiness,and leafy hop provide the other elements.Seemed just a tad watery in the mouth,not earth shattering but it wasnt quite as rich as some others of the style in my opinion.Nice flavors but it seemed to miss a punch in the finish,starts out fruity and deeply caramelly,a pretty good shot of leafy hop rides thru the finish,the water gives that certain sulpheric element that Iam not overly fond of.Its a good ESB, but there are better American versions,I like a big bready malt character to mine.

Photo of RoyalT
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – This ESB was brown in color with a nice orangish hue and showed only a modest head on a somewhat aggressive pour.

Smell – The brownish malts were lightly toasted and came with some good floral notes. I could also pick up some English toffee.

Taste – The rich caramel and toffee came out bigger at the taste. The malt flavor was heavily-toasted and came with a light hop balance.

Mouthfeel – This one is light to medium in the body with some big sweetish notes at the end. The bitterness was even if a bit understated.

Drinkability – This is a great session beer that came across as a bit “bockish” but went down well.

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
2.9/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Very minimal bright white head turns into a small blotch near the center of the pint. Beer is hazy, and the color of well used brown surgical tubing. Sorry that was wierd, deep butterscotch I guess. Nose is very sweet caramel and a faint hoppyness.

Taste is very simple, just swirling sweet mid-spectrum malt with a citrusy hop bitterness, and slight yeast near the finish. This is a good ESB, but too sweet. Mouthfeel is right on if it had just a touch more carbonation.

Photo of warnerry
3.54/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful deep red (more red than amber) with two fingers of soft light brown head. Leaves a ton of lacing behind.

Smell is slightly bitter with caramel malts but not much else.

Taste starts with bready malts and a faint hop presence. Not overly complex, but pleasant tasting and style appropriate.

Smooth, velvety mouthfeel, though carbonation seems a bit low.

Overall an easy drinking ESB that is well made, but not something I would go for that often.

Photo of dill
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

served on tap in a pint glass

A: copper color with an oatmeal-colored head.

S: some fruits with a bit of a sweetness.

T: really easy to drink with a light carbonation. mild bitterness with a bit of yeast.

M: mild carbonation with a slightly creamy texture.

D: this one is really easy to drink. it was gone before i knew it. i'll definitely look forward to trying it again.

Photo of Jason
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 22oz brown bomber, white silk screened label with no freshness date.

Appearance: Lush creamy looking off white lace. Red tarnish copper colour just about glows, real decent clarity from the yeast that has dropped well with the bottle conditioning.

Smell: Fruity with a mildly coarse herbal hop aroma, bit of lightly toasted grain and caramel in the nose also.

Taste: So damn smooth with a creamy back, carbonation is moderate but tight and textured. Big juicy fruit and bitter herbal hop twang, little bit of caramel and biscuity grain on the palate. Hop flavour is soft and nearly floral with woody undertones. Fruity with traces of ripe blood orange and rind, yeast is there yet more neutral than anything else. More caramel comes through when the beer hits cellar temp with a long grainy and leafy hop finish.

Notes: Do this beer some justice, serve it at cellar temp and in a big mug to give nice firm pouring. Highly drinkable with back and forth flavours from the malt and hops. Right on target for the style, back and forth of hops and malt … this one is a keeper.

Photo of merlin48
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Many thanks to IntriqKen for this 22 oz bottle. Pours a hazed copper amber body with a small beige head. Scattered lacing left behind. Aroma is malty caramel and toffee, floral hops, appleskins and some orange esters. Velvety medium body with an English feel from the conditioned water. Taste is malty with toffee and caramel, balanced well with an English style floral hop bitterness. The apple skin presence from the aroma shows up in the taste, as well, joined by some pear. Slight metallic note from the water lends a Burton-On-Trent feel. Very nice! A very well constructed, California brewed ESB in the best English tradition. Very sessionable.

Photo of tigg924
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

Appearance: red-brown in color, 1/4 inch head, clear, high carbonation

Smell: caramel, toasted malt, and citrus hops--really liking the smell

Taste: caramel, notes of chocolate and nut, light citrus and earthy hops--sometimes this takes on the taste of a Tootsie Roll.

Mouthfeel: light bodied, high carbonation, sweet with light bitterness in the background

Overall: Nice, complex, and malty ESB. I scored this according to style and this is probably my favorite in the style. If nothing else it is my favorite bottle from AleSmith in this bottle size. I will get this again. If not marking to style, this would probably be about a 3.8.

Photo of mattster
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Opened 22 fluid ounce bomber bottle, poured into nonic glass.

Poured an amazingly large off-white head of 2" that held.

Smell is of hops with slight citrus notes. Hoppyness follows through on taste with a nice bitter notes. Slight citrus tones and a bit of earthiness.

Bubbles look heavy in this, but carbonation is pretty balanced on the palate. Nice finish, no aftertaste. I'll take another.

Photo of magictrokini
3.16/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darker copper with a frothy cream-colored head. Aroma of malts and yeast. Taste is a lighter ESB, with a pleasant bitterness. Stong malt and yeast make for a crisp bite with an easy aftertaste. Doubles as a great marinade for streaks and brats.

Photo of Franziskaner
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +22.4%

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

Photo of MattyG85
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tall Summit glass. Bottled on 06/13/13.

Appearance: Pours a deep copper amber orange with a lot of rising bubbles. Solid three fingers of off white head which slowly fade into a thinner creamy layer. Leaves a good amount of lacing clinging to the glass.

Smell: A nicely bready and nutty malt forward aroma with caramel and some earthy hops. Upfront bready and toasted malts with good hints of biscuit, sweet caramel, toffee, cracker, grains, yeast, nuts, oats, and some tea like hints. Decent earthy hop balance with some hints of grass and light pine. Subtle citrus fruit hints of orange, grapefruit, and lemon. Some light floral hints as well. Definitely an English smelling brew. Solid aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma, a bready malt forward taste with good notes of biscuit and caramel and some earthy hops. Toasty malts upfront with notes of biscuit, toffee, caramel, grains, yeast, cracker, nuts, and oats along with a tea like presence. Good presence of earthy hops with floral and herbal notes. Some grass and light pine is detected. Nice citrus notes of orange, lemon zest, and grapefruit. A very bready malt forward brew, but with a nice hop presence that brings some balancing bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy and smooth. Starts sweet and finishes fairly dry.

Overall: A pretty solid English style Bitter. Good biscuity caramel malt taste with a solid American hop balance.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours looking and smelling very much like a west coast ipa. Coppery dark orange appearance, almost virgin white head, 1.5" in range. Aroma of hops hops and more hops. Even hoppier than Anderson Valley's ESB. Look for it, and you can smell what makes this ESBish, the yeast, the mild, mild peat.

Aroma is exactly mimicked in the taste. Same issues, maybe not as hoppy on the palate as in the nose, but still very plentiful. Delivers on the bitterness unlike many traditional esb beers. A little sweeter than any/most ipa's though. Throw in a reasonable amount of caramel and toffee for this one.

Pretty good, and still able to be purchased for $5-6 a 22oz, decent.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured into my Aventinus glass after sitting out of the fridge for awhile allowing it to warm up a bit, forms a nice caramel tan head that compliments the deep plum ruby tone of the body nice and cloudy some yeasties floating around. Lacing chunky patches spread unevenly with each sip not bad. Aroma: Hops have a very herbal tone with some caramel malts seeking through and a mineral note to add as well a bit metallic but not in an off way. Taste: Fair mix of big flavors with a great amount of hoppiness that is almost tame due to the amount of malts used here perfect sparring match between the caramel malts and piney hops great balance is where this beer got it's reputation, not in your face flavor. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied mellow carbonation nice texture going down. Drinkability: The balance of flavors is what makes this beer great overall ESB fits the style while still adding it's own flavor.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a Nonic)
A- This beer pours a deep dark copper body with a slight dense thick light tan cream that last for a good bit and some microbubbles pushing to the surface.

S- The flinty green British hops have some earthy notes to them with a clean finish. As the beer opens there is a nice mineral note and a lightly toasted dry malt aroma.

T- The soft dry pale malt covered slightly by a papery green hop flavor that has just a hint of tartness to it and a mineral note in the finish with just a touch of husky grain.

M- The light mouthfeel has a gentle fizz and no alcohol heat noticed.

O- The nice clean easy drinking session beer has a good hop profile and a nice fresh dry malt character to boot. Even though it was a large bottle it didn’t last long.

Photo of Auraan
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured a nice deep amber with a one finger off-white head that receded to a nice ring off-white that left good lacing. Quite nice. Scents of sweet caramel malt, honey, light toasty notes and hints of grassy hops. Simple, appealing aroma. Flavor is toasty malt, a light sweet malt flavor, nutty flavors, earthy hops, moderate floral hop bitterness, slight toffee on the finish and aftertaste, also some grain husk on the aftertaste. A very good flavor, with a bit going on, but not too much that the beer is overwhelming. It remains extremely drinkable while having a pleasant flavor. Mouthfeel is light bodied, with moderate carbonation, fitting an English pub ale. Overall it's an excellent session beer, with a good aroma, flavor and drinkability and an excellent example of a classic British style.

Photo of Jeffreysan
5/5  rDev +28.9%

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!

Photo of watermelonman
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured to a nice gold and orange color with a small head that lasted well. There's a few nice lines of lace.

The smell is dominated by malts. In the taste, this one starts to shine, with a great balance between malts and hops. Light hints of fruitiness come though with hops in the finish. The mouthfeel is solid and pleasing while the drinkability is very high.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.44/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep, dark amber orange in the glass. An aggressive pour was required to generate a half finger course head that melted to a surprisingly thick, sticky lacing.
Aroma of orange pez, florals, and a lightly bready yeast hits the nose.
What a wonderfully balanced taste! Fresh sweet citrus fruits, bread, then a 'first sweet, then bitter' drying hops.
Mouthfeel is exquisite fine carbonation with a sort of thick and creamy feel from the sweet malts.
Aftertaste is a bright and crisp hop drying.
Delightful summer fresh tasting and very quenching.

Photo of asabreed
4.16/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a pint glass.

Appearance: Every pour is a tsunami of a head. Nothing backs down. Tons of rain forest and windshield lacing. Hazy darker copper amber body. Haven't seen retention or a head this good, first pour or last, on any ESB, ever.

Smell: Buttery diacetyl amber darker mark flavors and some good English hops.

Taste: The balance here seems much like an English ESB, which should be the case, and thankfully. Good malt, a little burnt or toastedness going on, and a bit of buttery biscuit and mild hops. A fiery amber fruity malt backbone comes to fruition as it warms. Long lingering biscuity mildly hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel: Good and creamy all around, medium-bodied.

Drinkability: Quality and flavorful ESB. Something I'd easily go back to. I want AleSmith, since I'm not sure how to gauge them yet.

Photo of Bcant
4.06/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber with a silk screen label, poured into a 0.5L stein. This is a bottled conditioned beer so I left about ½ at the bottom to keep the sentiment out of my glass. This ESB is a rich caramel color with medium white head made of small bubbles that dissipated but kept a nice thing rim of foam around the side. Understated aroma with notes of maple syrup, plumb, and faint hints of bitter citrus. The flavor is a rich bled of caramel and bread crust, apples and leaf tea which finishes with a medium bettering hop-profile. It is very well balanced and a very good American example of this classic British style. The mouthfeel is soft and full, almost creamy but not too viscous. Good drinkability, consistent with the style; a good session beer.

Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.55/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ahhh, my first AleSmith.

Pours a rich chestnut color with a thin, lacy off-white head. Clean aroma of hops and biscuity malts. The first taste is just...awesome. Incredibly well-balanced and flavorful, with mild hops, caramel/toffee and biscuit, with maybe a hint of fruit. Smooth and creamy -- just a delightful beer to sip. Wow. I'm blown away by the delicate, well-crafted nature of this beer.

I'm so glad I ordered 3 AleSmith beers from LetsPour. This is just outstanding.

Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am surprised I was able to finish a 750 over lunch, but I did. It is nicely done, somewhat bitter and not complex. But went well with various lunch dishes. Rather mild Malty and floral and understated fruitiness. Thanks Don for bringing back fresh from San Diego!

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Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 593 ratings.