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Anvil Ale ESB - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Anvil Ale ESBAnvil Ale ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

321 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 321
Hads: 629
Avg: 3.9
pDev: 14.87%
Wants: 41
Gots: 43 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Anvil Ale ESB Alström Bros
Reviews: 321 | Hads: 629
Photo of kojevergas
2.86/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Acquired at a beer store near San Diego about five days ago for $4.99. 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Uinta pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery, which rarely ceases to impress me.

Served a bit warmer than refrigerator cold. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a four finger khaki head of nice cream, nice thickness, and great retention - though the ABV is merely average. Colour is a clear vibrant amber. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Appealing all around, but not unique or special.

Sm: Heavy toasted malt character. Heavy caramelization. Mild floral hops. A bit of biscuit malt. Some bubblegum. I never much cared for the ESB aroma, but this represents the style well. An average strength aroma.

T: Creamy open to a lightly toasted and caramelized clean bland malt foundation with mild floral hop tinges. Very empty in terms of flavour. There's little going on here. Quite simple. No yeast or alcohol comes through. A bit boring. I do like the fresh, clean feel. A bit of peanut butter on the climax. I assume it's diacetyl. Lacks body. No real complexity, though maybe some subtlety.

Mf: Velvety, smooth, and wet. Too much so on each count. Too light. Lacks presence. Suits the style but not really the flavours.

Dr: Admittedly, I'm not big on this style. Alesmith represents it fine, and I respect that - but I've had more enjoyable ESBs. It's drinkable, but overpriced and not worth it. I wouldn't get this again. I tip me hat to Alesmith because I'm sure fans of the style like this one, but I don't care for it. Best left only to true fans of the style.


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Photo of Brad007
3.84/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice reddish-ruby color with a thin head into my glass. I love the color and it matches up as expected.

A mix of light, grassy hops and sweet, buttery malt greet my nose. Malt-forward as opposed to hop-saturated.

The taste reflects it too. Just the right amount of bitterness that compliments the sweet, buttery toffee malt.

Crisp, clean aftertaste with a good amount of carbonation. Nothing harsh to nitpick over.

I haven't had an ESB in a while so this is a treat to behold. No-frills, easy drinking. Not too high in ABV either.

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Photo of tlazaroff
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yummy malty goodness on the nose! Nice sweet caramel, toffee, nuts and baked bread. It smells like a confectionary of the best kind.

Beautiful dark amber in color with big carbonation bubbles slowly rising to the surface. The head is a light tan that holds fairly well and laces in really nice rings as you sip away.

The flavor mimics the taste incredibly well with big emphases on toasted almonds and cashews. Smooth and surprising light, with a medium carbonation level, this beer is easy to drink, refreshing, and completely satisfying.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

No date but it's in one of the new bottles. Tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark caramel color with a cap of dark tan head, receding quickly to a ring and some splotches.

S: Toffee, graham cracker, nuts, some cream.

T: Kind of an offish malt toffee flavor, almost like red pepper without the spice? Very dry. Doesn't quite come together.

M: Light, pretty easy drinking. Light smooth carbonation and body.

O: Not bad, but I remember this being better on draft. I'll take the standard British import ESBs over this.

This is a pretty good ale, better its counterfactual as a lager.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a dimpled mug. I really loved the AleSmith Nut Brown, so I have high hopes for this!

Appearance: dark brown hue with a basically haze-free body and a finger of frothy tan foam. Head has decent retention and leaves a nice lacing on the glass. I like it.

Smell: nice, rich, malty aroma with a touch of earthy hops. Objectively, it's well-crafted and appropriate, but the malt character is really quite biscuity and it just rubs me the wrong way a bit.

Taste: much like the aroma, there's a good malt-hop balance here and this beer strikes me as very well-crafted, but the flavor choices in the malt bill are just not to my taste.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a big carbonation and a nice, big, mouth-filling creaminess. Bam!

Overall: I had high hopes for this beer. Its quality doesn't disappoint at all, but I'm really not a fan of this really biscuity malt bill.

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Photo of Flounder57
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz beer was poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: The beer poured a one finger head that has reduced to a small puffy layer. It is a copper brown color with some clarity and visions of carbonation coming up through the glass. Nice lacing on the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: sweet and bready malts, biscuit, toasted oats, yeast notes, and some fruitiness.

Taste: chocolate, bready malts, grainy, slight bitterness, nutty, and some roasty and toasty flavors.

Mouthfeel: medium carbonation, a little watery, light to medium bodied, a little chewy, and enjoyable on the palate.

Overall: Pretty solid ESB. Fullers and Hobglobin I have had a lot, but happy to add this one to the mix.

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Photo of seand
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a translucent amber with a fair amount of light tan head. A ring around the edge retains, as well as some spots of film on the surface, and there are some pretty good walls of lacing.

S: Sweet fruit and grain, with just a bit of malty thickness.

T: Mild caramel and brown sugar sweetness, with a fruit-like touch.

M: Medium to light body, medium carbonation; a little watery near the finish.

Overal, an enjoyable if not exception ESB. There's a decent chance I'll buy it again.

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Photo of WillCarrera
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber, no bottled-on date, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights, produces a finger of tan head, nice retention, spotty lacing.

S- Caramel malt aroma complemented by earthy, herbal hops, nice mineralic water quality.

T- Similar to the nose with sweet caramel and bready malt, some herbal, earthy hops with a bit of citrus. The mineralic quality of the water works really nicely here. Has a nice finish of caramel and a bit of herbal hop bitterness.

M- Medium-bodied, smooth, creamy feel.

O- A nice ESB, very tasty and extremely drinkable.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper with a 1 inch foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thin broken rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt and some earthy and herbal hop aromas. Taste is of toasted malt and some nice earthy, herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Valhalla, New York, NY

A: The beer is clear but dark reddish garnet in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a thick ring of bubbles around the edge and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderate aromas of earthy hops and biscuit malts in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is earthy and malty and has hints of mineral water in the flavors.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied and slightly clean on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The finish leaves a little dryness in your mouth.
O: This beer seems more flavorful and fuller-bodied compared to other ESBs but it is still very easy to drink.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Purchased in June 2012, but this could be old considering it's brewed in the Fall. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Caramel brown, chestnut color. About a half finger of light tan head. Looks to be good carbonation.

S: Smells nutty. Sweet malts. Some piney hops hops.

T: Nice ESB. Nice roasty toffee notes, on a mild scale. Bready malts. Some nice lingering hops still in there to balance it out.

M: Medium bodied brew. Low ABV I assume.

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Photo of prototypic
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anvil Ale ESB pours a really nice scarlet stained copper color. It’s mostly clear. A little light reveals really nice orange and reddish highlights. It’s topped with an off-white head that stands a little over a finger or so tall. Retention was definitely on the shorter side. Lacing was definitely on the sticky side, leaving a really nice web of lace trailing down the glass.

The nose is a little weak in the aromatics department. It needs more strength. The malt base smells like a mix of light caramel and toasted malts. It smells a little sweet. Hops are definitely in the mix. They definitely seem English. They’re a little fruity, but feature some grassy and Earthy notes. There’s a strong bready or yeasty scent that’s prominent throughout. Alcohol is masked extremely well. I’m not getting much at all in that department.

The flavor is impressive. It is a little sweet up front. Caramel and toasted malts anchor things down nicely. It’s a flavorful malt base. Yeast is relatively strong and has a bread-like flavor to it. It works well and complements the malty flavors nicely. There are some nice hop flavors. They’re a little citric and grassy. I have no idea what the hop profile is, but it definitely seems like some form of English hops. They provide just a slight bitter flavor. Alcohol is buried and is not noticeable at all. Finishes yeasty and a little malty.

The body is on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation is active, but isn’t buzzy. It really has a pretty good mouthfeel. I won’t have any problem finishing off this bomber. It is easy drinking.

Anvil Ale ESB is a really nice release from Alesmith Brewing Company. It really is a tasty representation of the style. If it has any shortcomings, the nose could use a little more strength. That’s about it. It’s impressive otherwise. Definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of Drinkerofales
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer is almost clear dark copper, with golden highlights. A huge tan head leaves medium lacing, and is overall quite a nice looking beer.

Smell is lightly spicy and fruity, faint earthy hops and warm and mild caramel malts.

Tastes is a bit understated however, all around. Malts up fron, hops on the finish, gaining some tang as is warms.

Feel is thin, but not fizzy, smooth, with a watery wet finish.

While I can smell and see some great quality, the flavor isn't as big as I feel it could be. Or, it just might not be my thing, but when I think "bitter", this isn't it.


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Photo of angrybabboon
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed 5/9/12

Appearance: Dark copper/amber, pours clear - creamy, foamy off-white head to start, leaves a nice ring and spotty lacing

Smell: On the mild side - caramel malts, toffee, and dry, toasted biscuits - a touch of hard water, but not excessively English - a coffee ground-like roasted character, some dark fruit, English hops, nicely balanced

Taste: Easy drinking and tasty - caramel malts, pale malts, toasted biscuits, bread crust, toasted grains, slightly roasted malts, toffee, some hints of dark fruits - on the dry side, a nice level of sweetness - English hops with a touch of grass - slight minerality and hard water, but it's more subtle than in your face, and I approve

Mouthfeel: Medium body, very smooth, excellently carbonated, super drinkable

Overall: A remarkably drinkable ESB

While the aroma and taste are not overwhelmingly exciting, this beer is absurdly quaffable, especially for the style. I was not necessarily planning on drinking this bomber in one sitting, but it's definitely going to happen.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.43/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz capped bottle into a nonic tumbler- pours a surprisingly dark copper/red (almost mahogany) with one finger of beige head, which holds its own for a while and leaves some sticky lacing.

Smell is mostly comprised of toasted malts and hops. Some caramel, a little orange, something a little earthy.

Tastes great- definitely a lot of toasted malt, which comes through pretty strong at first (reminiscent of a dry stout almost), followed by some caramel malt sweetness, punctuated by an earthy hop bitterness. Finish is very nice, long, semi-sweet/semi-dry.

Mouthfeel is great- medium body with moderate carbonation. This is an exceptionally crafted beer and great complexity of flavor for such a drinkable, low ABV beer. Buy it if you see it!

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Photo of jlindros
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice looking fluffy slightly tan 1 finger head that fades fairly slowly and leaves decent lacing as it does. The beer is a mostly clear darker amber toasty ruby reddish colored beer, with lots of bubbles rising up to reinforce the head.

Nose emits an herbal earthy grassy hop aroma, lightly floral, fairly grassy, with hints of herbal notes, light malty aromas with hints of toasty reddish malts, but that's about it.

Taste comes out malty at first, some caramel and plenty of toasty reddish copper malts, with a hint of sweetness and some juicy malts. Then hops again, but keeps from getting too bitter. A big grassy herbal hop flavor comes through, but not the Hedgerow herbal vegetative UK style herbal, a different one I can't really label otherwise. I like this one better than the U.K. style I'm used to. The earthy hops bring hints of fruit as well, and quite grassy almost hay like grassy. As it finishes it dries quite a bit with lots of toasty grainy speckled copper malts, a nice bitterness that doesn't overpower, and a bit more of the very grassy slight herbal hops.

Mouth is med to a bit lighter bodied, tons of carbonation.

Overall not bad, better than I expected, I kinda put this one off for a little while as I was afraid it would have that herbal U.K. like hop that I don't like in most ESBs. Decent grainy malts, nice grassy hops, a bit floral, earthy, and tasty, without too much bitterness or sweetness.

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Photo of tigg924
4.3/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

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Photo of ghostwalker
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper body and tan head. Fits neatly and sweetly into my CBS snifter.

Nose is copper penny hops and malt. Subdued but still very pleasant.

Flavor is good, with the copperiness on the finish that I smelled before my first sip. Not sure if that's the hops or the malt, but it's a very nice US interpretation of my favorite UK style. Achieves a very nice flavor balance but avoids any hint of the characteristic UK butteriness.

Mouthfeel is slick and effervescent. Plenty going on for a lower ABV brew.

Overall is very good. Quaffable and tasty. Another solid brew from Alesmith.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Yep. That's a bitter." That's what struck my mind at the very start with this beer. And it's a pretty good one at that. Decent citrus and woody/leafy tones. I'll say that it seems mildly clogged and almost too thick on the body, but the whole thing does work. Can't really say it isn't worth trying. Naturally, I'd be interested to try this on cask.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
4.11/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 22oz bottle shipped to ATL from Escondido, CA

A - A cloudy amber, with 2 fingers of head, tons of sediment floating around in the beer, and yeast settling into the bottom of the glass

S - Dried fruit. Tangerine's and oranges. Definitely alot of citrus going on in the nose.

T - Light, fruity. Well balanced.

M - Full bodied, tons of carbonation, smooth

O - A damn good ESB. Alesmith hits every style that they attempt to the T. ESB's are not my favorite style, but if I am to have one, this is it. This beer grew on me as it warmed.

Since visiting the Alesmith brewery back in summer of '11, I am hooked to this brewery. Every beer is amazing.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at hawthornes in philly

Pours an opaque browned color with some lighter auburn hues. Crop of lightly tanned head rests on top, retaining well and leaving some spots of lacing on the glass.

Nutty and a bit sweet in the nose with plenty of bread crust and caramel. Soft touch of roastiness and some faint raisin.

Malty and full on the tongue up front. Somewhat robust with bread crust and a thick malt base. Bread crust with caramel and a faint touch of raisin. Decent amount of sweetness, but well balanced with the malt. Finishes clean with dark malt sweetness.

Medium body, decent carbonation, a little chewy and sticky on the tongue. A pretty drinkable, tasty beer, although I probably wouldn't have this too often.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear. Deep, rich caramel color. Borders on mahogany. Crazy bright. Head is off-white and leaves a thin ring. Lively carbonation.

Smell: Toasted malts and bread crust. Faint dusting of minerals. Slight grassy edge. Some lingering caramel sweetness, but it's bready from start to finish. Hops run a touch floral, more herbal. Biscuits. Very mellow. Some roasted malts.

Taste: Bread crust cooked just a touch too long. Caramelized, cooked malts add a nice sweetness. Minerals from that lovely treated water add a nice earthy/gritty note. Hops remain herbal and dust citrus. So much toasted flavor. Nice roasted component to give it some depth. Fruity like apples and pears fused in to a super fruit. Very mellow.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth to say the least. A touch dry on the finish, but damn is it drinkable. Carbonation adds a lively backing.

Overall: A solid take on the style to say the least. The fact that it's American brewed is even better. Enough flavor to keep it interesting over the course of the 22, but it's never tedious. Drinks like a champ and then some.

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Photo of smcolw
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber color (similar to light maple syrup). Clear. Nice ascending head from the pour. Settles in lumpy fashion, leaving lots of webby lace.

Mildly earthy with a bit of semi-sweet chocolate. Good balancing hop to the nose.

Here is an ESB with a touch of Porter. Lots cocoa and spicy hop bitterness. The body is as one should expect for the style.

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Photo of Dope
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A super deep ruby red pour, almost mahogany. Large dense light tan head sits on top. Fades pretty slowly, leaving some nice etching on the glass.

S: Caramel and toasted bread. Quite nutty, not unlike a brown ale. Floral with a bit of pine underneath it seems. Maybe even a little grass?

T: Nice nutty caramel up front along with the pine and the grass. Fades into toasted malt flavors.

M: A bit thin, this IS only 5.5%

O: Nice ESB, perhaps the best one I've had. Nutty and toasty like a brown, hoppy like an EPA, all while coming in at only 5.5%.

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Photo of andrewinski1
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bendurgin for the tick. Poured into a pint glass. There is a nice quarter inch off-white head atop a nice copper-amber body.

There is a lot of nice nutty malt in the aroma, with a touch of toast.

The taste has a biscuity flavor, but that leads to a grassy hop finish. The balance is perfect.

The mouthfeel is full bodied for the style, with carbonation that straddles between crisp and creamy.

This is pretty enjoyable. I like the great malty flavor.

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Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 321 ratings.