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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

576 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 576
Reviews: 313
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 39
Gots: 32 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 576 | Reviews: 313 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of freed
4.58/5  rDev +17.7%
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.

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.

Photo of BrewMaster
4.62/5  rDev +18.8%
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.

Photo of Rastacouere
2.56/5  rDev -34.2%
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?

Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  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!

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.72/5  rDev +21.3%
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.

Photo of arizcards
4.27/5  rDev +9.8%
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!

Photo of IceAce
3.76/5  rDev -3.3%
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...

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.

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.

Photo of alexgash
3.62/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

Photo of oggg
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
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

Photo of bultrey
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first beer whilst visiting San Diego for the first time. The convenient store near my hotel had a few AleSmiths. The ESB is a nice copper color with a very thin head, relatively low carbonation. The smell is pleasant, nothing mind-blowing, just some sweet malt with the faintest grassy hops background. This drinks like an ESB that has been brewed with some brown sugar or molasses or something like that. It has that slightest cloying flavor that goes away just before it becomes too much. As it warms, this is accentuated, and the hops profile drops significantly. There are definitely some toffee notes here. Overall, a nice session beer this would make, with some fish and chips. It reminded me of Old Peculiar, but slightly lighter and less cloying.

Photo of RoyalT
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
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
4.8/5  rDev +23.4%
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
4.55/5  rDev +17%
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
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
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
3.52/5  rDev -9.5%
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
3.66/5  rDev -5.9%
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
4.52/5  rDev +16.2%
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
4.2/5  rDev +8%
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
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
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
4.7/5  rDev +20.8%
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.

Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 576 ratings.