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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

550 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 550
Reviews: 311
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 11.31%
Wants: 41
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
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Ratings: 550 | Reviews: 311 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
2.93/5  rDev -24.7%
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.

JudgeRoughneck, Jan 15, 2006
Photo of baiser
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper colour, with a wonderful creamy white head. Toasty, sweet and very fresh. Very fruity and herbal. Medium bodied, nice fluffy mouthfeel, muted carbonation and great drinkability. Very smooth and extremely drinkable. Very nice and flavourful ESB.

baiser, Jan 09, 2006
Photo of Tupperwolf
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a tarnished dark copper color into my nonic glass wih a fluffy head of teeny tiny yellow-white bubbles that fades to a clinging concave ring.

This has a pretty good scent for an ESB; A carmally, malty, sugary-sacharine smell that's not very big, but is bigger than a lot of ESBs.

The taste hits with a few quick malt bursts that remind me of pineapples and rum; There's some clove and spice, followed by orange rind, yeast, and nice hop oil flavors, nice and tart on the back of the tongue. The sweet smell combines with the tart flavors to make a really delicious brew. Pretty darn good.

The carbonation almost stings my tongue, which is good, because the slightly hoppy aftertaste brings out the best of the sugary malts and rounds out the flavor with flying colors. Drinkable, you bet! Viva la ESB!

Tupperwolf, Jan 09, 2006
Photo of Realale
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper red. Extrafine just off-white head sits and stays at a solid 1/4" leaving good lacing. Really a beautiful beer - looks like it was poured for a photoshoot for an ad or something . . .

Nose is caramel maltiness mixed with citric, spicy hops. The hops quickly take over, and the caramel drops into the background to join a lovely fresh-baked bread and crackery malt aroma. Touch of earthiness comes out as it warms.

Medium-light in the mouth, and blessedly unscarred by too much crystal. Instead it's bright citrus and mineral flavors that take the lead, which are quickly followed by a big whack of solid maltiness. The hops add a touch of complexity, but really don't make themselves apparent until the finish. The finish is of decent length with the hops and mineral crispness eventually bringing things to a very pleasant end.

Simply outstanding bottle-conditioned mouthfeel. Very soft, but enough to show off the mineral and hop notes without making them harsh or distracting. Masterful.

Just a joy to drink. This would easily be a favorite around my place were it more easily available. As is, it's something to look forward to when travelling through those areas where it is available. Great beer!

Realale, Jan 01, 2006
Photo of Troyone
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an amber color with a copper hue, minimal white head, and little carb movement.

Resinous pine wood malt smell dominates the hops aroma.

Lightly sweet/sour, mod bitter, and resinous malt taste with tea like hops in the background.

Medium bodied, watery texture, soft almost flat carb, and a light astringent/metallic finish.

ESBs are evidently not my preference although I like the option I would opt for something else.

Troyone, Dec 29, 2005
Photo of germaniac
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber, with a tightly bubbled off-white head.

Smells lightly fruity- tart apple, with a malt sweetness.

Taste starts out mellow and smooth, with a nice sweet malt toffeeness that ends with a crisp hop bitterness that blends well with the faint flavor of apples that shines thru.

Being unfamiliar with the ESB style, I really have nothing to compare this to but my own tastebuds. From that, I can say Anvil is a smooth, crisp drinker with loads of hop and malt character.

germaniac, Dec 23, 2005
Photo of carln26
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bright amber color, very clear, this beer came from the bottle with a thin tan head. Wonderfully complex nose. Fruity with green apples, figs and light toffee. The flavor a light caramel note, followed by more of the fruit, red delicious rather than green apples. Silky, light mouth feel is a huge surprise. This beer would be incredible on a warm summer day.

carln26, Dec 13, 2005
Photo of IrishCowboy
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Just put one of these away and was clamoring for another.

The ESB style is one that is rarely mistaken for anything else and one of the most common characteristics of an ESB is a rich and bitter aftertaste and smell. Sometimes I find myself getting into the mouthfeel and flavor of an ESB just to find and enjoy the subtle aftertaste craft.

The Anvil Ale by Alesmith does not register a lasting aftertaste. To my amazement this characteristic of the beer makes it seductively more drinkable which is not what I would expect from an ESB.

The cloudy yeast gives this a rich dark amber glow and a very nice mouthfeel. Although I usually prefer a little bit more head and carbonation in my beers the ESB style has often utilized low carbonation and head to maintain a silky mouth play. The Anvil delivers this silkyness by a balance of low carbonation and head with little after taste to bring you a nice ESB brew that keeps asking for you to lift it to your mouth. Its the cleanest tasting ESB I've had and enjoyed it alot. I've rated it average on Mouthfeel since I can not really say it is above average in this department but that the average mouthfeel of an ESB, as opposed to a heavier viscous version, is appropriate for the delivery of flavor here.

Thankfully I know a place where I can get a bunch of these guys and I can only hope to see it on tap anywhere I go.

IrishCowboy, Dec 04, 2005
Photo of beersarang
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a brown red with a slight chill haze. Head is actually miniscule due to the tightness of the carbonation, thick collar and spotty lace is left behind.

Fruity malt aromas rise out of the glass, very British.

Firm malt profile consists of caramel and grain, hops are soft and blend in well with the malts, mild bitterness. Finishes almost dry with some grain and biscuit. Almost perfectly balanced.

Medium to full bodied with low but perfectly prickly carbonation.

I would buy this again, I respect Alesmith for perfectly replicating a British ESB with no compromises, no "Americanization" etc. Definitely an amazing brew, by virtue of the skill of it's crafters.

beersarang, Nov 27, 2005
Photo of rowew
4.63/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 22 oz bomber. Lengthy description of the style on the back, but no freshness info to be found.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy red orange color with a bit of haze. Medium sized head that fades, but leaves a good amount of lacing.

Smell: Sweet malt aroma dominates, with a nice amount of fruity hops in there too.

Taste: Nice smooth mouthfeel and low carbonation which seem appropriate for the style. Bready malt flavor, with quite a bit of hops balancing things out. Very smooth and drinkable.

Overall impression: Highly drinkable, and nicely reminsecent of cask conditioned beers. Very well done - wish I could get it locally.

rowew, Nov 23, 2005
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 04, 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
Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 550 ratings.