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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

563 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 563
Reviews: 312
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 11.05%
Wants: 42
Gots: 25 | 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: 563 | Reviews: 312 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RoyalT
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
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 waughbrew
4.78/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Rusty red with creme colored head that stays and sticks tightly. Beautiful. Aromas of cherries, strawberries, and light citrus hops. Caramel and chocolate covered fruits. Flavor starts with sweet nutty caramel balanced with a burst of fresh floral hop flavor when a small bite of grain kicks in and takes it to a sweet roasty chocolate finish. Extremely delicate and soft with its medium-light body.

Absolutely wonderful. The only more I would ask for is some additional yeast character. Maybe hints of phenolics or diacetyl even could bring this beer over the edge. As it is, though, it is something I really wish I could have all the time.

Photo of garthwaite
4.6/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Sampled on tap at Father's Office in Santa Monica. Appeared a deep copper with a sticky white head that converted to a creamy ring & left an intricate web of lacing down the pint glass. Earthy hops, caramel malt, & sweet fruit in the nose. Rich malts everywhere...loads more caramel with toasted almonds & toffee. Fantastically balanced by spicy, peppery, in-the-ground floral hops. Beautifully balanced, seriously complex ale (especially for a fairly low gravity brew). Medium to light bodied, almost airy in the mouth. It was tough for me to have just one of these, what a treat. Without a doubt, one of the best ESB's I've had.

Photo of meathookjones
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured out a clear amber color with a slight of white head that left virtually no lacing around the glass. The aroma smell of sweet caramel with a bit of earthy toned hops peaking every now and then. The flavor was very mild with caramel malt and balancing earthy hops that added a nice bitterness. The mouthfeel was about light-medium with a super creaminess about it that allowed it to go down of so smoothly. Very light refreshing sessionable brew here that can be put down all night.

Photo of twilight
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I guess I was expecting something a little more bitter, but no matter. All those hops have ruined me. Thanks to my brother-in-law, breathinblue, for carrying the bottle on the plane.

Pours a nice golden orange with a very fine head that leaves nice lacing on the sides of the glass. Nose is of slight hops. Taste is kind of like the malt backbone of a pale ale, that almost sour wateriness with hints of slight citrus. But then...you get the hop aftertaste. It isn't aggressive, and it isn't sharp, but it's definitely bitter. Not in your face bitter, but a slight earthy bitter that acts as a nice counterpoint. The carbonation is low. Nice and smooth, but maybe I'd want more. Intensely quaffable, though, and if I were out in California, I'd drink this as a session brew.

Photo of Boilermaker88
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this Alesmith offering as a late-afternoon relaxer while at my brother's BBQ yesterday. Once released from its bottle and residing inside a standard pint glass, it showed off a clear brick red color with light carbonation. To my dismay, no head or lace appeared.
The nose had aromas of caramel and honey, some lighter notes of toasted malts, nice aromatic hops, rather citrusy, and a hint of fruit I couldn't quite place. The taste had an immediate bittering tingle on the front of the tongue. Then a fruity sweetness came across, the flavor finally revealing itself to be a light prune taste. Some mild nuttiness and finished with more honey-tinged sweetness which wrestled around with some modest leafy hops. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth, and missing most of the effervescence found in most beers.
Overall, I'm kinda on the fence about Alesmith's take on the ESB. It seemed so low in carbonation that it had me thinking it was cask-conditioned. The flavors struck me as being backward from how I normally taste beer. That said, I'd probably look elsewhere for my next ESB.

Photo of rajendra82
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown 22 oz. bomber with a bit of information about the beer on the back side. The pour into a standard pint glass is deep reddish amber in color, and clear in texture with a light carbonation level forming a small head. The aroma is malty with notes of honey, and a delicate flowery hoppyness. The taste is very mild with sweet caramel malts, a decent dose of bittering citric English hops, and a touch of roasted nuts. Smooth and soothing on the palette with a medium creamy thick body that has a dry aftertaste. Very sessionable beer that I wish I could get my hands on more often.

Photo of Crosling
4.53/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bright copper with purple highlights.

Tons of fruity esters in the aroma accompanied by lots of toasted malts, a smoked woodiness and some spicy notes. Smells like a fruit shake.

Top is a gliding caramel and toffee sweetness. Unbelieveably smooth. Fruity hop flavor. Spicy, citrus-like notes. Moderate carbonation.

A great beer. Easily the best of the style I have ever had.

Photo of Zorro
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear brown brew, with maybe a bit of haze.

Smell is malty and spicy and fruity, nice citrus hops scent too.

Taste is sweet with a brown sugar and spices flavors. Tastes like a brown Belgian ale.

Mouthfeel is good.

A tasty brew highly recommended.

Photo of tavernjef
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rusty copper color with a clear clean body, a finger high tan head sits tight and creamy on top, a collar remains around the edge once the top fades off and the lacing in minimal stubby strings.
Aroma is altogether biscuity and toasted, slight herbal hops, slight caramel, and other dried whole grain notes as well.
Taste is good yet a little on the plain side with not much going on. Roasted/toasted biscuit malts lead the charge and maintain a mild yet gainful capacity. Slight hops bring in some very slight grassy notes. Crisp and clean. Flavors end a tad too short and thin but the finish sufficiently drys out. Lingering in the finish is a bit of wild rice-like starch and light whole grain dryness.
Feel is about medium, clean, respectable roundedness and carbonation with a light drying charactized from just past the middle all the way through to the finish and softly lingers. Flavors weren't up to par to what I've come to know about Alesmith, a tamer ESB all way around but has a satisfyingly clean, mild tone thats enjoyable enough and becomes better as it warms.
Thanks to xlperro for the bomber!

Photo of beergeek279
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 22 oz. bomber into a pint glass. The color is dark copper, with a film of white head. The smell is caramel malt. The taste is mostly malty, though it has a bit of hop presence to it. Mouthfeel is average. As for drinkability, could have a few of these.

My 2nd Alesmith, and a solid style of a small beer. Though I'm not a huge ESB fan, I still like this beer, and I'd have it again, especially if Alesmith shipped west (we can dream, can't we?)

Photo of jonnylieberman
4.75/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

nice and copper out of the bottle. Great head.

smelled like a good beer. Good malt aroma.

This is a very salty beer. Oh wait, those are my TEARS OF JOY! Hands down the most scrumptious beer I ever tasted. Good good good! Really good! A revelation. We were drinking Arrogant Bastard and I grabbed a 22 of this and all four people agreed this beer was far superior. Superb. Incredible. Get some.

If this beer was all I ever felt in my mouth I would be OK with that.

I could drink a keg in one sitting and still be thirsty. For reals.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev +2.8%
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 Naerhu
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed this again on 27Jan05
Consistent results with initial review, only this time the floral notes on the aroma struck me as more pronounced. I also kicked the taste, mouthfeel and drinkability a half point each to 4.5 (which would be an average of the new and old scores).

Initially reviewed 13Dec03
This was an extraordinarily nutty beer, and otherwise reminded me of Fullers ESB. Amber copper opaque body with a thin head and amazing lace. Hop flavor is to complementary to the nut-bread malt back bone and not as bracing as many other reviewers state. The thin creamy carbonation was delightful. This was a great brew, had at fathers office in Santa Monica. Went wonderfully with food, but had enough personality to love on its own.

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A lightly chill-hazed ruby-amber-copper color that is topped by a tan head. Aromas of caramel malt and subtle hop aromas. Perfectly carbonated for a beer called ESB, nice and light. Malty with some toasted malt/ biscuit notes. Lightly sweet in the finish, accompanied by a pleasing bitter hop finish. Pretty well balanced leaning perhaps a bit more to the hop side of the spectrum. A nice session beer, that I would love to sample from the cask. There is a very nice pleasing fruitiness that expresses itself as the beer warms up. I was very impressed by this beer, shows a sense of balance & subtlety that is too often overlooked by many American micros.

Photo of Mark
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This nice ESB pours a cloudy amber, head retention is excellent, and lacing is beautiful. Aroma is pretty mellow, with malt dominating. Very smooth malty taste profile with a touch of hop, very grainy too. Ultra-drinkable ESB from a brewer whose beers I have been very curious about. Very nice beer. Thanks to rkhaze who is a part of some great guys at the Whole Foods meat department I shop at.

Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A decent appearance with a tawny amber body and a nice cream head and nice lace. The nose is light and gives off malt with light floral hops in the background. Mild flavoring with a decent balance but little bittering. The feel is fairly creamy with little crispness in the finish. Easily drinkable session brew as the "Liar's Brew" at the Liar's Club.

Photo of winomark
3.05/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear amber color with a non-existent head.

Aroma: Little or no aroma. Can sense some hops, and some malt, but very minimal.

Taste: Very mild palate, almost not there until some malt in the finish. No hops apparent. Disappointing for an ESB.

Mouthfeel: Thin and watery. No "meat" to it at all. Absolutely no carbonation.

Drinkability: A poor showing IMO from Alesmith, but I wonder if I got a bad bottle. There is no "born on" or "drink by" date, so maybe it sat too long on somebody's shelf. Might try again, but not likey.

Photo of elmocoso
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Smells great: A crisp citrus hop smell with a sweet malty background. very lively. cascade hops for finishing? kind of fruity and refreshing.

Not much of a head. a slight blanket of lace and a minimal coller around the edge.

Coppery orange, a little cloudy.

Great all around taste. Strong and subtle. malty sweet with a hop bitterness in binary opposition. the contrast is almost perfect. like sucking on a candied hop cone.

mouthfeel is lush and well rounded. great balance here and just a perfect beer for a hop head.

Photo of Rumrunner
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle
Pours a dirty transparent copper. Head starts off strong but disappears quickly. Not much lacing. The scent has a bitter fruit bite to it. Some lemon, a bit of hops and malt.

The flavor is a crisp lemon with a nice malt follow through. The bitterness is apparant and this is a well balanced ale. There is a fruit finish with a burst of crispness.

This ale drinks well and would be a fine session beer. I feel this ale could be a nice crossover ale for macro drinkers because it is smooth and not too strong. It does not overwhelm the palate.

Photo of jcalabre
3.2/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I originally sampled this beer on 27 May 2003. I am writing this review from my notes. This pours a nice copper color. It is smooth on the palate. In my opinion, this would be a very good session beer. It's nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. Given that other Alesmith beers are world class, this one isn't worth seeking out

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

ESBs have never been among my favorite styles of brew, often too bland and unmemorable, but I give everything it's chance and soldier on, investigating my first Alesmith bomber...
Appearance: dull red color, fairly tight white head.
Aroma: slightly citric, fruity, but otherwise arid.
Taste: niiiiiice, and tangy, zippy, fruity, very much enjoyed.
Light to medium body, decent finish, good, tangy texture.
Sweet, fruity taste rings through and through the length of the large bottle's contents. A surprising treat, though I've heard so many good things about Alesmith, I shouldn''t have been shocked. One of the best ESBs to have met my lips! Big thanks to BierRiese for providing!

Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is another excellent beer from Alesmith! This English style ESB pours a nice dark red-ish, copper colour with a creamy, off-white head. The aromas are of heavy hops, malts, alcohol, and a unique alesmith spicy-ness. The taste is similar to the aroma. This is a very spicy, hoppy and malty beer that is exceptionally balanced and drinkable. The mouthfeel is thicker than many of the 'so-called' American ESB beers, but right-on for an English interperatation of the style. The drinkability of this beer is excellent as well! A great ESB!

Photo of beerguy101
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Medium brown color. Medium head. Aroma is brown sugar and malts. A lighter bodied ESB. Malty and slightly hoppy. Well balance. Very tasty. More in the English style of bitter. Very drinkable. Mouthfeel is full. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

Photo of kbub6f
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought from the fridges at Gaslamp Liquor in San Diego, seven hours in my carryon, a couple of weeks in my fridge, reviewed 45F-70F.

A small, noisy head collapses fast. Lacing is spotty. The beer is a clear, deep amber with ample fine carbonation. Lots of swirly sediment on the final pour (the writing on the bottle says to pour carefully and leave the yeast in the bottle... I say screw 'em!).

The smell is caramel malty, a little tangy, with a hint of bitterness. The front is malty and a little perfumey. There's some fruit in there too. The middle is roasty-malty with some tobacco hops. It's quite buttery when warm. The finish is nutty and dry. It's hoppy with some chocolate. Alcohol is fairly obvious in the aftertaste along with a nice interesting apple quality.

This is one classy brew! It's almost casky. Creamy, smooth, beautiful.

Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 563 ratings.