1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Anvil Ale ESB - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anvil Ale ESBAnvil Ale ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

515 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 515
Reviews: 305
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 11.34%
Wants: 39
Gots: 19 | FT: 0
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 03-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Anvil Ale ESB Alström Bros
Ratings: 515 | Reviews: 305 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of HalfFull


4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. Beer pours a copper in color and offers up a half inch light tan head. Retention and lacing are better than expected.

Smell is fruity malty and yet a bit metallic on the malts, though not nearly as sweet as many an ESB. Touch of hops accompany.

Taste follows the nose. Touch of fruit and with a nice malt finish. Firm carbonation and a good malt balance yield a solid medium feel to the brew, yet it doesn't have the slick syrupy finish that often deters me from the style. Perhaps there is hope for me and the style after a few Redhook ESB's sent me running for a glucose meter in the past. Quite drinkable and another fine brew from Alesmith.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2008 02:50:18 | More by HalfFull
Photo of magictrokini


3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2008 19:15:21 | More by magictrokini
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22oz bottle served in a glass mug.

L - clear copper color with a huge beige head that left sheets of sticky lacing.

S - earthy hop and caramel malt aroma.

T - nicely balanced flavor of sweet malts and bitter hops.

F - medium bodied, very smooth feel.

D - hell yeah.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2008 23:24:31 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of jwc215


4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours copper with a fluffy off-white head that stays and leaves lacing.

The smell is grainy/caramelly with a stong earthy/herbal bitterness.

The taste is of floral/herbal spicing with maltiness weaving in and out. Finishes with a bitterish dryness.

Medium-bodied - fuller side.

A nice, hoppy American ESB.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2008 23:50:10 | More by jwc215
Photo of tmoneyba


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

Bottle at The Local, SD, CA.

Poured clear dark amber hue with huge frothy off-white head that Mostly lasted with good lacing. Heavy aroma of hops, malt and apple cider. Medium to full body. Well balanced flavor of malt, hops and fruit with a medium bittersweet finish of moderate duration.

This is a standout brew.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2008 14:50:10 | More by tmoneyba
Photo of callmescraps


4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Went to the store as a treat for the lady friend, happened to find something for myself while I was out. Thanks, Whole Foods.

Appearance - A deep, cherry wood, amber color. Very rich and deep, with a thin half inch of head which sort of lingers around the scene. The lacing is lovely.

Smell - A hoppy, citrusy aroma. A little sweetness, with a hint of hoppy pine. Smells like beer, good beer.

Taste - A little of the citrus sweet up front. Then it comes with some hopiness. The finish is nice and malty. There's a hint of a slightly wang-y aftertaste. Wish there was a little more complexity here.

Mouthfeel - Really excellent. Lots of little bubbles give it some nice depth, but still exceptionally smooth.

Drinkability - Pretty good. The slight aftertaste makes you want another sip, but I think it'll sit pretty heavy.

All around a very good beer. Not quite knocking my socks off, but I'm certainly happy to have tried it.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2008 06:53:00 | More by callmescraps
Photo of hopdog


3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle.

Poured a darker, cloudy amber color with a small (1/2 finger) off white head. Aromas of floralness and light caramel. Caramel stronger in the taste. I was also getting some perfume as well. Malty finish. Smooth body.

Notes from 3/26/05

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2008 21:24:06 | More by hopdog
Photo of Goliath


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

Pours a clear coppery/orange color with a one inch yellowed head. Good retention but no real lacing.

The aroma is really nice. Some citrusy hops really set it off. There is a sweet malt presence as well showing some earthy tones, kind of tea like and nutty.

The taste is nice. A good hop presence with a nice citrus note giving some lemon peel and a slightly bitter finish. Hops are also slightly spicey on this one. Some familiar ESB qualities in the malting as well. Kind of a sharp grainy flavor that really rounds the beer out. Seems a little nutty too. It's somewhat earthy, tea like, and mild. Overall it seems very appropriate with a bit of an American twist. I'm diggin it.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and nicely carbonated with very fine bubbles. A nice feel indeed.

Drinkability is fairly high. This is a tasty ESB and certain sessionable as well as enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2008 21:13:47 | More by Goliath
Photo of rkuhnel


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

This poured a copper-brown with a fat tan head and very rich lacing. The mouthfeel is very rich and slick, and it goes down very smoothly. Nose is of malts and some pine hops. Very well balanced brew. Flavor is not complex but enjoyable. The most remarkable thing about thie beer is how drinkable it is. It gets even better as it warms up. Don't drink this one too cold.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2008 16:37:14 | More by rkuhnel
Photo of jujubeast6000


2.78/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 1/10/2008 (bottle):

Pours a light reddish brown body. Small light tannish head, quickly diminishing. Hoppy aroma, somewhat piney, somewhat maty, but not too strong. Malty, piney, acrid taste. Almost dusty taste. Maybe some banana. Watery & drinkable. MaltIness. More hops as it warms up. Too malty for my taste, but very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2008 23:07:43 | More by jujubeast6000
Photo of ballewblake

New Jersey

3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a magic hat pint glass.

Dark copper brown in color, one finger head. Good retention and lacing on the glass. Light aroma of hops, but nothing is standing out and in your face. On my second pour from the bottle, first time down had the bittering hops, either they killed my palette of I needed to drink so water, not getting them anymore. Really smooth beer, medium carbonation, easy to drink without over complicating it. A good esb.

Serving type: bottle

08-28-2008 01:18:54 | More by ballewblake
Photo of Georgiabeer


3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy dark chestnut with an orange tinge and a nice tightly beaded head that fades to a thin cap. Nice gentle aroma of biscuity malt, soft minerality, and light citrus flavors. The taste is similar and pretty soft. There is also a bit of slightly grainy sourness on the end. Mellow and correctly carbonated, this is decent for the style, but not anything special.

Serving type: bottle

08-26-2008 22:30:18 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of gford217


3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours clear amber with a hint of red with a small off-white head that dissipates quickly to a ring with little lacing. The smell has citrus hops up front with a bready malt background and some fruity sweetness in there as well. The taste really caught me off guard with an immediate tongue-tingling bitterness that actually has a noticeable lemon tartness to it. There is a strong spiciness toward the finish as well with only a hint of the bread behiind the massive bitter kick. The mouthfeel is crisp and clean with a strong carbonation that accentuates the tartness. The drinkability is limited a little by the bitterness, but this is a decent bitter and a very unique offering from AleSmith.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2008 00:49:08 | More by gford217
Photo of DrDogbeer


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

Thanks to srandycarter for the bottle!
Pours a light brown/orange blend with some slight haze and a decent white head. Smells of some light toasted malts, bread, and yeast. Light aroma of some piney hops, but not much.
Nice full flavor with some bready malts and a decent bite on the finish. Good session beer.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2008 13:12:44 | More by DrDogbeer
Photo of cjgator3


3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle.

A- Pours a dark orangish amber color with a nice creamy light tan head.

S-The aroma is pretty balanced with toasted malts and citrusy hops. Nice aroma, but it is a little faint and would be much better if it was a little stronger.

T- The taste like the aroma is very balanced between the malt and hops. Also like the aroma, good flavor but I would like a little bit more of it.

M- The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a good amount of carbonation. Very nice.

D- Overall, AleSmith Anvil ESB is a solid beer that is worth a shot. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2008 04:34:08 | More by cjgator3
Photo of hooliganlife


2.73/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I love ESB's and I love Alesmith so I figured the Anvil ESB would be amazing. I was sort of let down I guess. Poured from a 22oz into an imperial pint glass. the bitterness was well hidden and I really never found it. Most domestic ESB's rival their English counterparts. This was very light, in flavor, and in body. No real hop presence for me, very little malt. Overall, I was not impressed really.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2008 19:17:34 | More by hooliganlife
Photo of paytoplay


4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cask at Ritual in SD, fantastic brew out of Cask. Was at the brewery picking up some 08 Summer Yules and learned a bit more on how they prepare a beer for cask conditioning, thanks for that info Alesmith! Must like the bottle but better texture, head was solid and a bit tan. Very very easy to drink.

Serving type: cask

07-06-2008 19:23:29 | More by paytoplay
Photo of FreightTrain


2.78/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a copper penny color with a big three finger white head.

Smelled grainy with a whiff of hops.

Taste was watery and sour. There was a strange sweetness somewhere at the back as well, but the overriding flavor was sourness with a shot of oily hops. The flavor didn't really blend or compliment each other at all. Definitely not appealing.

Mouthfeel was very watery. Not nearly enough body to this beer, even for the style.

I guess it was drinkable since it was so light. The problem would be in the desire to drink more of it.

There are many good ESBs out there and unfortunately this outstanding brewery doesn't make one of them.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2008 08:26:22 | More by FreightTrain
Photo of ppoitras


4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle obtained via I Want That BIF 4 from tayner. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, scant layer of swirly small bubbles over the slightly cloudy reddish amber brew. What head there is remains, with sticky, lasting lace. Aroma is grain husks, which flow right into the flavor, with the maltiness being balanced in the middle by a sedate hopping. Mouthfeel is soft over the tongue, and drinkability is very easy. Another nice offering from Alesmith.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2008 21:51:56 | More by ppoitras
Photo of gabeerfanswife


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

Though gabeerfan reviewed this right before I did I have not read his review. The first bottle we drank must have been bumped on the suitcase ride home from CA because it was FLAT and not worthy of rating. This bottle is much different.

Bottle conditioned with yeast in the bottom. We split the bottle and poured it into two pints.

A: Looks a tad bit lighter than your Fullers or other English ESB. About a 3/4 inch head that receded down to a thin foam-more than lace. Starts out very opaque but clears up some as the beer settles. I poured the last inch or so of the bottle into a taster glass for shits and giggles. Very opaque. Not surprisingly this little bit looked like a Weizenbock (but did not taste like one!-ick- and I know you are not supposed to drink it).

S: very caramel and I am getting a tad bit of candy sugar smell. Almost like a less intense barleywine.

T: Good. It would be fabulous with fish and chips. Low on hops, high on malt. I am pleasantly surprised as it comes from Southern CA and up until recently many breweries there would throw excessive hops into every style.

M: This is odd because they advertise on the bottle that they do not use force-carbonation. However, this beer had no shortage of carbonation. Small bubbles-but many of them lasting for quite some time. Yeast doing its job.

D: very drinkable. And a solid effort at a real ESB from a non-british brewery. As with most beer it goes better with food. Happy drinking!

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2008 01:55:26 | More by gabeerfanswife
Photo of gabeerfan


3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, dark amber color with a thick rocky head that falls to a thin cap that never disappears.

Smells of grassy hops, with a hint of citrus. Also, some caramel roasted malts in there.

First taste is of caramely roasted malts with some earthy/citrusy hops. Hints of dried fruit appear as the beer warms up. Not as hoppy as one would expect from a West Coast brewery, but it's not a problem for me. The flavors are subtle, in a good way.

A little prickly in the mouthfeel. Pretty carbonated, good palate cleanser.

Pretty drinkable. Nice, almost sessionable ABV and good relatively subtle flavors.

I will say that I bought 2 bottles of this and the first bottle was not sealed correctly and had gone flat, but the flavor was fine. I've noticed other reviews talking of off flavors, etc. Alesmith may need to work on some quality control.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2008 01:22:56 | More by gabeerfan
Photo of Bitterbill


2.25/5  rDev -42%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This pours a hazy dark amber with a 3 finger and still growing head of foam. # sips of the foam and it looks like it finally is going to settle down. Btw, the foam taste very tart fruity.

The smell is fruity with a lot of citrus and I get some malty tones.

The taste(of the actual beer) is a lot like what I tasted in the foam. Surprise. Citrus that goes from tart to just plain sour and I'm not getting a whole lot of malt here at all. Hey I love sour ales but in a brew that's supposed to be an ESB? I don't think so. Perhaps this is a bad bottle. Yeah, that must be it as I couldn't fathom this being what the brewer intended. Not being locally available, a revisit may be a long time coming...I'm pouring the rest down the drain.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2008 20:52:41 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of athensbeermaster


4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beauty pours a huge head that laces all the way down the glass. The nose had a large fresh caramel apple scent mixed with a floral hoppy note. The taste: Starts with silky caramel that fades into a fresh apple rhine mixed with a spicy hop accent. The mouthfeel is med. body that leaves a long finish on the tongue. The drinkabillity is great low alcohol with a smooth malt driiven finish that leaves you thirstin for more. I can see why this brew is there flagship beer. There IPA has more complexety but for a ESB this a world class winner!

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2008 22:30:32 | More by athensbeermaster
Photo of mattster


4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2008 08:03:53 | More by mattster
Photo of halfP1NT


3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to t0rin0 for this one!

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Dark amber in color with a huge, ridiculously thick, off-white head. Tiny bubbles are rising throughout the glass. Lots of thick lacing is left behind.

Smell is bitter hops right off the bat. Perhaps a hint of citrus. Then caramel, sweet malts, brown sugar, a little mustiness. Aroma is not very strong, but that mustiness becomes even more apparent as this beer warms.

Mild taste; caramel malts are nicely balanced out with hops. I also taste brown sugar. When I hold it in my mouth, I pick up on some dark fruits; dark cherry, dried apricot.

Lots of bubbly carbonation, tingly on the tongue. This a very drinkable brew.

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2008 18:48:34 | More by halfP1NT
Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 515 ratings.