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Anvil Ale ESB - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anvil Ale ESBAnvil Ale ESB

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

540 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 540
Reviews: 310
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 11.31%
Wants: 39
Gots: 22 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 03-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Anvil Ale ESB Alström Bros
Ratings: 540 | Reviews: 310 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of audiojon
4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, I've yet to find an ESB as drinkable as this. This beer is the sole reason I visited the AleSmith brewery the following week and ended up being introduced to the rest of their fantastic lineup. Anyhow, on to the review...

Appearance: Very nice, standard for an ESB, orangey copper coloring, some faint yeast swirl. Some lacing, good head retention.

Smell: Whoa, big scent of hops, some faint fruit (apricot, peach perhaps) and some spicy alcohol aroma.

Taste: This is where the beer really starts to shine. A swish around the mouth produces some complex flavoring, but not so much to distract you from the smoothness of the beer, which leads me to

Mouthfeel: This beer encourages you to swish it around several times, float it over every tastebud, and eventually swallow, which leads to

Drinkability: So damn smooth, I could drink this every day. Anvil has become the ESB to top in my book, and holds its own against pretty much anything else as well. In my top 5, easily.

audiojon, Nov 10, 2005
Photo of bcm119
4.28/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Orangey-amber color with a fine, sticky off-white head. Aromas of candied citrus fruit and lightly toasted caramel. Soft, mellow nose with a slightly juicy, ripe citrus/orange blossom hoppiness on an estery caramel malt frame. Mouthfeel is excellent. Supple, spicy, very light spiced bread sweetness towards the back, with a fresh, cleansing finish. Maybe just a bit watery. Nicely integrated flavors, true to the English style, and very quaffable. Its reminiscent of Stoudt's Scarlet Lady with its mellow orange spicyness. Excellent ESB, one of my favorites.

bcm119, Oct 05, 2005
Photo of fisherman34
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orange/amber in colour with a slightly lower than average carbonation level. Aromas are quite fruity from both the yeast and the fruity-floral English (maybe Goldings) hops. There’s a good balance between the caramel malt and hop flavors, and some additional mineral and yeast notes too. The mouth feel is quite unusual: very smooth and rounded... almost salty, but not overly heavy. Doesn't quite pack the same flavor punch as the best ESBs that I've had, but this is still highly drinkable stuff. It was great with steak.

fisherman34, Sep 29, 2005
Photo of Wasatch
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another awesome brew for AleSmith. Pours a dark golden color with a small head, but leaves some nice lacing through out. Nice scents of hops, malt, and some sweetness. This ESB tastes quite a bit different than other ESBs I've had, but it's still very good. What's missing is the bitterness and bite at the end. This ESB is sweet and light, dry. Like I said this is an awesome brew from AleSmith give it a try, just to be different, LOL

Wasatch, Sep 11, 2005
Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark copper. Very good color for the style but little head or lace.

Biscuity malt and hopt (primarily hops) on the nose.

Biscuity notes and strong buttery notes in the end of the taste and the aftertaste. Buttery tastes come in strong. More hops needed. Something is off or out of whack, but it is still good.

Slightly disappointed by this one. I was expecting more but it is still very good. Again, something I can't quite put my finger on is preventing this ESB from breaking through into the upper tier of beers. Maybe that aforementioned butter aftertaste is too strong. Maybe the hops need to be more noticeable.

GeoffFromSJ, Aug 15, 2005
Photo of Beervis
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours from the 22oz bottle a deep, clear, amber with a thin white head.

Smell is of light fruit and fragrant hebal hops. A slight caramelly malt tone is also present in the nose.

Taste is very creamy with caramel notes, mild bitterness, and fruit. Medium mouthfeel really coats the mouth with moderate carbonation. The sweet maltiness is balanced perfectly by the flowery hops. The hopping is perfect, not overbearing, yet very present. The taste dances in the mouth, as layers of fruit intermingle with caramel and bitterness.

This beer is extremely drinkable, with an incredible flavour and in my opinion, perfect alcohol level. Will definitely be having more of this one!

Beervis, Jul 28, 2005
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bloodshot orange-copper loaded with fine yeast; a gorgeous, multi-hued constellation of colors when viewed through late afternoon sunshine. The pale caramel colored head has rapidly compressed to its current two finger thickness, but doesn't appear to be interested in falling any farther. Although there isn't much lace initially, subsequent pours result in a thick, crusty band at midglass.

The nose is balanced and would be much better if it was stronger. There's a firm, toasted malt base with orange fruity hops layered on top. I can't tell for sure which hop varieties are in use, but it smells like an Anglo-American effort to me; heavier on the Anglo. It's a decent ESB nose, no more than that.

Anvil Ale is solid, like the implement that it was named for. Still though, I'm not tempted to go with the next highest flavor score. The flavor profile is supremely balanced. A toasted whole grain breadiness is seamlessly integrated with an acceptably bitter, orange marmalade hoppiness.

This is pretty unchallenging beer considering who brewed it. I can't decide if I mean that in a good way or a bad way. It has no rough edges and is tremendously polite in the mouth. That makes it a tremendously easy drinker and a wonderful session ESB on the one hand. On the other hand, it has no standout qualities that really impress me.

The bottom-of-the-bottle-therefore-even-more-yeast pour doesn't add anything of value to the flavor profile; nor does the flavor change appreciably as the beer warms. The mouthfeel is medium with a nod toward light-medium. A little more heft and a few more bubbles are what I'd recommend if asked.

After the incredibly wonderful, delightfully delicious AleSmith IPA and YuleSmith DIPA, my expectations for Anvil Ale were sky high. Although it failed to meet those expectations, it's far from disappointing beer. In the final reckoning, it's a good example of the American ESB style and should appeal to a wide range of people.

BuckeyeNation, Jul 27, 2005
Photo of GClarkage
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

07/08/05- Shared with BA Spinlock at a beer/dinner party. Received from BA member RKhaze. Thanks Randy!

Presentation- 22oz bomber with no dates. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Copper colored pour with a medium sized foamy head. Better than average lacing.

Smell- Pretty hoppy and maybe a light and sweet malt scent.

Taste- Tastes like a English IPA mixed with an american strong ale. Tasty semi-bitter hops with a nice sweet malt finish. Light candied orange and other citrus fruit flavors swirl around.

Mouthfeel- About the perfect carbonation level. One of the easiest drinking brews I have had.

Drinkability- Bar none the best of a lone few ESB's I have ever had. Still new to this style, but this was very flavorful and easy to drink.

GClarkage, Jul 10, 2005
Photo of RedDiamond
3.08/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, warm amber with one finger of eggshell head. Anvil has a light fruity nose melded to a cidery smell and a strange taste that’s too fruity to be traditional yet too quirky to appease innovative artistry. The flavor tilts towards apricot with a bittering element sharper than historic trends. Anvil tastes like an American pale with over-conditioned water and left me in no hurry for another.

RedDiamond, Jul 08, 2005
Photo of watermelonman
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

watermelonman, Jul 07, 2005
Photo of DogFood11
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish hue. decent lacing. Off to a good start overall.

Nice mix of hops and toasted malt/grain. Caramel is evident but very subdued and the sweetness associated with it is not evident.

Notes: Almost average across the board. I think I rank the beers low compared to others but I like to think i'm consisten so it doesn't matter. I enjoyed the malty/hop contrast and it has a nice lingering aftertaste. They hide the alcohol well and a decent appearance. Incredibly smooth and refreshing.

DogFood11, Jul 03, 2005
Photo of joecast
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured half the bottle into a pint glass, letting the remaining yeast settle out. hazy amber color with little head, leaving a light covering of lace.

nice hop character in the aroma. floral, my amatuer homebrewing tells me goldings. of course, this is an esb so my chances are good.

good maltiness in the taste. maybe a bit under-bittered, but not by much. hop flavor is well done.

man, i could drink this stuff all day. ive only got the one bottle, but its going quick. very well balanced.
for: great session beer
against: perhaps lacking slightly in character/complexity

joecast, Jun 25, 2005
Photo of garymuchow
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Many thanks to gueuzedude for this fine sample.

Aroma is not overpowering, but pleasing hope aroma of pine and citrus, followed by base of a sweet water type malt with a tiny bit of caramel and toffee.
Head is slow to form and quick to disappear. Beautiful amber color of red/brown. Brilliantly clear.
Malt presents itself more boldly in flavors. In fact, it presents predominantly here. Nice complexity in malt, toasty, toffee. A pleasing bitterness appears in middle and stays through to finish. Nice slight dryness.
Surprisingly thin and watery. Softenss in water and carbonation.
Nice beer.

garymuchow, May 22, 2005
Photo of freed
4.63/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stumbled (not literally) onto this gem on tap at Blue Monk last week and had to go back and have some more.

The beer is a lovely deep copper approaching brown. It has excellent clarity. There is a small amount of foam when served and it remains through the pint.

The aroma is old world in its malt smells. The smell is a little huskier, a little mustier, and the yeast compliments with a mild apple tart.

The taste is benevolent with its flavors. Sweet malts finish in a toffee and caramel kiss. The mouth is left immediately wanting. It takes a second sip to realize that the flavor wants to hide, but can't quite fully. What's amazing is this beer is so uniuqe - not only as an ESB but as any beer, and it emplores you to pay it all the attention it deserves.

freed, Apr 28, 2005
Photo of DrJay
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazy, deep amber colour topped by a thin lace of off-white head. Even with the minimal head from the pour, the retention was excellent and resulted in lace all the way down the sides of the glass. The aroma had a little bit of caramel sweetness along with a complex hop profile consisting of floral, pine, citrus and a bit of spiciness. The flavour was very nicely balanced between malt and hop character. Nice base of malt sweetness with caramel and biscuit evident. Bitterness was assertive, but without any resinous quality, and a nice piney/floral flavour. The finish was short, but maintained its balance. Body was medium/light and carbonation was moderate. Smooth texture. Overall, a really nice session beer.

DrJay, Apr 10, 2005
Photo of BrewMaster
4.63/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured from a bomber into a 23 oz sniffer. The head is rough and a bit uneven in bubbles size. Very nice tan color on the head that is easily revived with some swirling. The beer is a semi-cloudy brownish red with an orange tint to make it seem light,

Smell: The aroma is simply lovely on this beer. Crisp caramel malts along with brown sugar that is nearly seductive. There are notes of orange that come from the hops. It is not over hopped but nicely hopped to balance the malt.

Taste: Very big caramel flavor to start with a big helping of brown sugar sweetness. The flavor is very toasty, From the smell I would not have expected such a toasty, nearly coffee-like, flavor from such a beer with this color. There is a lot of flavor packed into this simple looking, seemingly lighter beer. The hop bitternes shows up in the middle of the flavor in an earthy, piney, perfumed sort of manner. The hop flavor is delicate and short lived but perfect. It does not over-stay its welcome and it does not try to steal the show from the rich malts. The ending of this beer is a refershing and clean watery flavor. It does not taste watered down in a poor way, but rather a nice water flavor sends you palate off and bids a dieu.

Mouthfeel: Velvety and very well carbonated. Toasty aftertaste that is washed clean and left un-sticky by the watery ending.

Mouthfeel: All around this is a truly remarkable beer. The flavors are well crafted and balanced to provide a wonderful drinking experience. Nothing is overdone while nothing is also under represented. Excellent in the true sense of the word. This beer excels in flavor where others simply cannot.

BrewMaster, Apr 02, 2005
Photo of Rastacouere
2.55/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Brown body with reddish reflects. Dull short-lasting off-white head. Fairly typical nose, an average blend of malt and hops. Slightly floral and stale goldings while the malts come out earthy, rather husky and almost grainy. Pretty dry on the tongue, almost sandy. Feels oxidized to me, husky malts and orangey hops providing a toothpaste reminiscent grassy/minty/soapy hop profile. Dull palate, light-medium body, lightly oily. Huh.. Where’s the rich Alesmith malt?

Rastacouere, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
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!

Sammy, Feb 27, 2005
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.75/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - reddish color with hints of orange and brown. Mocha-tinted off-white head of 1 finger settles quickly. Refilling from the bottle instantly regenerates the head which retains better towards the bottom of the bottle. Lots of sludgy stuff at the bottom, I let some of it into the glass, but not much.

Aroma - malty and bready with a biscuity, hoppy thread. Notes of alcohol peek through as well.

Taste - toasty, dry, richly malted start that is equally flavored with a slightly citrus, slightly bitter hop feel. All mixed together, I get this sometimes orangey, sometimes chocolaty sensation. Aged for an ESB, but well cared for, this is one tasty brew. Larger gulps do not do this beer justice, smaller sips work the palate much better. A touch of alcohol shows through as it warms. Finishes warm, toasty, and slightly juicy. Does it get any better than this?

Mouthfeel - smooth and creamy, carbonation starts out about average, but the levels drift off a bit with time, in step with the increased levels of yeast towards the end of the bomber.

Drinkability - at 3.19 per 22-ounce bottle, this is one of the best values for an extremely tasty, most drinkable beer.

Major props to drewbage for this hand trade, giving me a chance to experience some West Coast brews not always accessible in these parts.

brewdlyhooked13, Feb 15, 2005
Photo of arizcards
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber from TJ's back in November for 4.29. I am always up for trying a brew from AleSmith. It is a brewery that you cannot go wrong with!

Appearance is a solid copper color that is leaving little lacing behind. Nose is subtle, of malts, hops, and a light wiff of fruits. Taste is of caramelly malts, slight bittering hops, and a light fruity finish. Mouth feel is full and lively. Overall drinkability is near perfect as the ABV is quite harmless, the beer is flawlessly smooth, and my palate has lots to contemplate with this complex well brewed beer!

arizcards, Feb 13, 2005
Photo of IceAce
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours as shiny as a new copper penny (back in the old days when actual copper was used) with fantastic clarity. The nose needed a touch of coaxing, but finally yielded a few sweet malty notes with a backdrop of sweet berries.

The initial taste literally explodes at the back of the palate and in the upper regions of the cheeks with a bright fruity sewwtness bolstered by a beautiful CO² effervescence. The midtaste drops off slightly to allow room for a beautiful malty slow-fade finish.

As ESB's go, this is a very enjoyable brew...

IceAce, Feb 02, 2005
Photo of clvand0
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours an amber color with a small head that doesn't stick around long and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma has some light floral hopping as well as a toasty malt. The flavor is very dry and somewhat mild. Toasty malts and a light hopping make it easy to drink, but it's lacking some flavors. Very enjoyable, but it could use something to kick it up.

clvand0, Jan 04, 2005
Photo of kmpitz2
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a nice deep rubied amber color with a small head that nicely coats the top of the beer. The nose is nice. Lots of sweet caramel balanced out with a light bitter from the hop. The flavor is somewhat light for my liking. The caramel and hops are there, but feel rather distant, and not quite as brilliant as I would like them to be. The feel is moderate and nice, with a very light carb. Drinkability is very nice as well. The beer is very smooth, not too filling and very easy to put away. Again, another great showing from Alesmith.

kmpitz2, Jan 02, 2005
Photo of alexgash
3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear copper-amber with tangerine edges. Small, light-khaki head. Smells of toasted caramelly malt, with sweetish minerals and floral, perfumey hops. Nice. Toasted biscuit malt flavors up front. Not much sweetness at all. Dry. Subtle fruits come out, before the perfumey/floral, yet bitter, hops come in. Finish is dry, bitter (kind of astringent actually), with traces of fruit. Medium-bodied, dry, and minerally. Not bad, but certainly nothing special.

alexgash, Dec 31, 2004
Photo of oggg
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Growler filled at the brewery

I had a sip of this at the brewery and immediately blurted out, "holy sh@t that's good! Gimme a growler!"

They tell me this is all Styrian Goldings.

This beer pours a nice red brown color. It has a small head after sitting in my fridge for 72hours. Carbonation is still strong and could be much lower and still be in range for an ESB. There's a nice noble hop aroma wafting off the beer making it extrememly tempting just from the smell. On reflection, the carbonation is probably a touch high -- I must try this on cask. Nice fruitiness and hop bitterness. Seems like there's an out of place grapefruit flavor towards the middle. At the end there's a beautiful surge of biscuity malt. Very tasty. Finishes sweet and syrupy.

1. cask probably better
2. nice malt
3. finishes sweet

oggg, Oct 26, 2004
Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 540 ratings.