Anchor Steam Beer
Anchor Brewing Company

Anchor Steam BeerAnchor Steam Beer
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California Common / Steam Beer
Ranked #2
Ranked #20,374
3.87 | pDev: 12.66%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Very Good
Anchor Steam BeerAnchor Steam Beer
Notes: Anchor Steam® Beer owes its deep amber color, thick, creamy head, and rich, distinctive flavor to a historic brewing process like none other.

It is a process that combines deep respect for craft brewing tradition with many decades of evolution to arrive at a unique approach: a blend of pale and caramel malts, fermentation with lager yeast at warmer ale temperatures in shallow open-air fermenters, and gentle carbonation in our cellars through an all-natural process called kräusening.
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Reviews: 2,181 | Ratings: 6,380 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Reidrover:
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Reidrover from Oregon

4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought in a really wonderful 22 oz brown bottle," Made in San Fransisco since 1896"
The beer looks a lovelly crystal clear darkish amber, with a 1 inch thick creamy white head..very good.
Nice clean aroma of slightly roasted malts and some spicy hopiness detected...fresh
The beer tastes a lovelly sweet, creamy ,chocolaty..with some small bitterness in the after taste.I really like this its a well balanced brew.
Very smooth on the tongue but does rough up a bit at the end.
Why did I wait so long to try this good old beer..its a great drinkable beer, simple yet great quality!

Jun 20, 2003
More User Reviews:
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Todd from California

3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ah ... an American micro-classic, and a most distinct and unique beer. Hazy medium-amber, creamy tight bubbled head. Fairly clean aroma with slight bubble-gum and sulfur notes. Very carbonated, creamy with a lot of complexities, raw feel, grain and hops tannin astringencies and background sulfur. Toasted malt flavours come thru with a touch of caramel and sugary flavour as the beer warms to room temperature. Definite fruity character. Hops are bitter, but soft on the palate. Flavours linger into a grain dry finish.

Simply an all around good beer, with decent balance and incredible character. Used to treat myself to this beer when I was cutting my teeth into the better beer world ages ago. Everyone should at least try this beer once.

Jan 20, 2002
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Jason from Massachusetts

4.6/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 16oz brown "fatty" with the infamous anchor, hops and barley label. "Made in San Francisco since 1896" No freshness date.

Appearance: Hazy copper with a thick, off-white, rocky, bubbly, sticky, chunky head.

Smell: Earthy malt aromas with semi-caramel sweetness.

Taste: Immediately, the mouth is hit by a sharp bitterness, some salt and slight lemon from the hops. This is a beautiful thing, full of flavour and character. After, a mildly astringent, earthy, highly toasted malt guides you to a dry, grainy, residual citrus after-taste.

Notes: You don't find other beers like this, not even close in their mimics. This is truly a unique brew, and a classic; a legend in the hand-crafted/micro industry.

Aug 04, 2002
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interzen from England

3.81/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

355ml bottle (BBE October 2016) poured into a Troubador tulip glass

Look: Coppery red, single fingers-width of off-white head - some lacing, nothing major.

Smell: Not a lot to it, really, even after letting it stand for a while at room temperature and a bit of additional in-the-glass agitation. Floral and grain notes, mainly.

Taste: Oddly light - the best word to describe it would be 'clean'. It's got a hoppy-malty-fruity taste and lacks the usual bitter aftertaste. If anything, the aftertaste is more fruity than anything. Nothing to shout about, but definitely refreshing.

Feel: Again, a fairly light feel to it - some carbonation but manages not to be excessively 'fizzy'. Would be an eminently drinkable 'summer' brew.

Overall: not a style of beer I'm overly familiar with - I can't think of anything comparable in the UK off the top of my head - it's not a bitter and it sure as hell isn't like a lager either. Either way, given a choice I'd definitely drink it again.

Dec 09, 2014
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MadScientist from New York

4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A deep gold with excellent clarity. The creamy, low off-white head has a very decent retention period.

S: Moderate citrus hops aroma, mainly lemony and a peach and orange-like ester are prominent in the aroma. There is a light biscuty and toasted malt aroma i the background.

T: the flavor is dominated by a moderate hop bitterness and a citrus hops flavor which is again mainly lemon like. There is a decent support from a biscuit and toasty malt flavor with the balance being moderately toward the bitter side. The cirtus hops flavor and bitterness linger a little past the dry finish.

M: moderately-light bodied with moderate carbonation and a light astringency.

O: A crisp and refreshing, somewhat hoppy beer with a nice bit of fruity ester complexity.

Sep 04, 2012
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Tsar_Riga from Indiana

3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear orange body, white head, tight and short, but persistent. Extensive lacing.

S - Malty goodness, grains with a hint of honey and mild yeasty notes suggesting a roll. Pretty standard earthy hop notes, but mild. A bit of sourness in the trail.

T - Follows the nose, with a malt sweetness up front, grains in the form of cracked wheat, and a middle that suggests crackers and biscuits. The close is mildly bitter. Nothing exceptional, but quite drinkable.

M - Brisk, clean, with only the slightest drying on the close.

O - Very clean and in essence what a mass-produced lager could be, rather than what it typically is. I enjoy this and would pick it up again, but I can say I do not find the style to be as compelling as some. Nevertheless, this is an excellent example of the style.

Jan 24, 2015
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chadski from California

2.97/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Might be the most over-rated beer I've had. Fairly ordinary ale with the usual malty aromas and bready flavors. Decent hoppy finish.

Apr 07, 2015
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Snowcrash000 from Germany

3.86/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber, coppery coloration with a medium, frothy head. Smell is pretty subdued, with some faint doughy, caramel malt and a certain floral note coming through. Taste follows the nose, with a somewhat faint, but well balanced interplay of doughy, caramel, lightly toasted malt and grassy, floral, lightly herbal hops and mild notes of red berries. Finishes with a medium bitterness and some toasted grains lingering in the aftertaste. Smooth mouthfeel with a medium body and carbonation.

This kind of reminds me of an Amber Ale Light and I quite like that in a way. It may lack a strong, assertive flavor profile, but has a very nice, subtle balance to it. Very nice in an old school kinda way.

Oct 24, 2018
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cardfan212 from Minnesota

3.59/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a shaker pint.

Look - Crisp clear dark amber orange with a tall white head. Looks nice and hearty without being intimidating.

Smell - Wet grass, caramel, a weird bit of funkiness. Not complex, but it's interesting.

Taste - Not nearly as funky as the smell made me expect. A little spicy but fruity, like a chili pepper or something. At the same time, it's light and refreshing, kinda like an AAL. Nothing really sticks out to me, but it's pleasant enough and well balanced.

Feel - The thin body matches with the taste, but the carbonation is a little high for me. Gives it a fizzy Pop Rocks mouthfeel.

Overall - A fine enough beer. I can't say I've really had anything like it before, but I also don't have much to say about it.

Oct 28, 2018
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DEdesings57 from New Jersey

4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 30 days ago(Pretty damn fresh as far as NJ goes)

L: Poured out much more full bodied, heavier and darker than I imaged. I was expecting a yellow fisy lager or a pilsner like looking beer. I was presently surprised at its darkness. Looks like a Vienna Lager! Poured a large frothy white head, completely filtered. 5/5.

S: Wow, I smell citrsy hops, sweet beady malt, toasted brown bread, grains. Combine all those together and you have a light but very fruity aroma going on from the malts and hop(not hops - its singled hopped with Northern Brewer). Its almost smells like an American Pale Ale.

T: This is a lager? damn fine one. Taste like an American Pale ale with a well defined malt body. Champagne like carbonation, sweet beady malts in the background. The hops make this one finish dry and clean. I figured the IBUs on this one gotta be real close to SN Pale, and guess what they are 35 and SN Pale is 37. Like I said kinda taste like a pale ale. Really surprised me on the taste.

Feel: Its a little light on the body but then again its only 4.9%.

Overall: Amazing beer! classic brew! I cant believe that I have been drinking Craft beer for 10 years now and am just having this now.

Jan 26, 2016
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the_awesometeer from California

3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer is a clear orange color and you can see the carbonation that leads to the thin white head. Lots of bready notes in the nose. Yeast, malts, bread, is all I get on the nose. The taste is similar to the aroma, maybe with a little sweetness at the beginning, a nice crispness, and a slight bitterness at the end. The beer has a refreshing quality to it, crisp as well as a nice feel of carbonation.

Apr 05, 2017
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mageek52 from Maine

4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Love this for a tasty refreshing something different.

Apr 05, 2015
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a cold bottle with a frigid, ice-crusted beer mug. Once I let both warm for about 10 minutes, I was all set to pour beer into glass. Dark amber with a heavy dose of orange. The head was eggshell white and firm. It had decent staying power and left several thick rings of lace.

The smell was of earthy hops, not a bit floral or citrusy. The flavor was of earthy hops and grain. There was a mild-moderate amount of bitterness without much hop flavor, but it was still pretty good stuff.

The finish was long and bitter and the beer dried out a bit at the very end. The mouthfeel was firm, seamless and smooth. Anchor Steam is a true American classic.

Feb 16, 2004
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Lingenbrau from Oregon

5/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

When you think of a California Common or a Steam Beer, if this isn't the first beer you think of, then the world is out of balance. This is it, the original, the one that started it all. Every beer of this style is, or at least should be designed around it. If that doesn't call for perfect marks, I don't know what does. Oh, and the real kicker... It's wonderful.

The color alone is special. Rusted copper, burnt orange, whatever you want to call it, it stands out amongst the masses. It's clean and refined looking, proudly wearing a cream colored foam cap that is fittingly creamy in it's own right. It looks refreshing and it looks delicious.

How this has such a low overall score is mind boggling. Clearly people have decided not to rate or review this beer to style because this beer IS the style. For years I've enjoyed Anchor Steam and many others of the Anchor family. But this one right here is a stranded on a desert island beer for me.


Feb 23, 2019
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BrokenEdge from Pennsylvania

3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A much more solid beer than I expected. I was ready for a dated and boring beer but it was surprisingly complex and enjoyable. Looks very nice, a transparent orange-ish amber with a bright white head about two fingers. The head lingers and leaves good lacing throughout the glass. Smells sweet, like lagers often do. A pretty subtle scent to it, but there's hints of caramely malts and some faint hop aroma. Taste is actually pretty layered. Starts out sweet and malty, with caramel breadiness and hints of things like licorice and raisins. As the beer travels across the palate, some floral hop flavors and subtle bitterness develops, finishing with a crisp and somewhat dry feel. Flavors are clean and bright. Feel is smooth and creamy. This is a great beer to dissect the subtleties of or to just drink casually.

Mar 24, 2016
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MaxHops from California

4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/25/2020 *Must update this. Since Fritz Maytag sold Anchor, the quality has noticeably dropped off on Anchor Steam beer.*

Michael Jackson the beer hunter got it right when he rated this 4 out of 4 stars (World Classic) decades ago. Absolutely a classic and a unique beer. Defines "session" beer. Perfect at 4.9% for a long night. Beautiful bronze amber color, plenty of hops, though not an IPA, the Northern Brewers really feature well in this beer. A great intermediate transition beer for someone coming through the ranks of craft beer drinking in terms of hop hit. I remember my wife drinking these quite a bit after moving on from low hopped bears like Newcastle and then finally liking IPAs after these. Nutty, bready, some fruit with some of the dryness, sweetness of some lagers, some of the tartness of an ale it truly stands on it's own in style. 5s across for a world classic like this.

Mar 26, 2016
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Jraiona from Kentucky

3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

My first tasting of this style. Poured into a Nonic pint. Poured a clear Amber with a moderate head with little lacing. A pleasant aroma of malt was quite prominent. On the palate there was light carbonation and a pleasant hopiness without being overly bitter (I'm not a fan of hop forward beers such as IPA's or bitterness). While it didn't blow me away it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Jun 12, 2016
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Lagerlivesmatter from West Virginia

4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I remember my parents drinking this on occasion when I was a kid (80's). I recall drinking it in my late teens as well, although at that time I drank for the sole purpose of getting drunk and never really payed much attention to taste. This being on the slightly more expensive end of the spectrum here I've passed it over alot in my adulthood. However I've recently picked it up a few times and im glad I did.

Alot of people say its got a unique taste.. but I think every beer worth its salt fits that category. This is simply a well balanced lager, perhaps on the heavier side (as lagers go) but that isn't rare among craft lagers. I suppose the brewing process does give it a slightly more fruity; ale like quality. Very slight however. It actually strikes me as a more raw Boston Lager if that makes any sense.

All that being said, its an excellent beer and is exactly the type of beer I enjoy. A full flavored, balanced lager, with subtleties and character. Highly recommended.

Aug 04, 2016
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tectactoe from Michigan

3.48/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I've had this numerous times, just never really got around to taking notes on it. Seems like they have this all over the place in downtown Detroit on tap. Had this particular one at Park Bar. Pours a muddled copper color with lighter hues around the edges, closer to a rustic amber; half clear and half hazy. Slightly gray-tinted head turns to a skin and leaves some small dripping of lace on its way down the glass.

The aroma is pretty bleak and mild; but relaxing and calm may be a more appropriate description. Musty hops, seemingly of the Noble variety (perhaps Saaz?) with a slight touch of leafiness to accompany the musk. Faint grains are the backdrop for the hop play, yet they remain fairly quiet and never interrupt. Very light citrus zest on the tail end. Warming doesn't reveal any more aromas; this beer is pretty simple and straightforward.

The taste begins with a small mouth washing of light biscuit malts and heavy grains; a substantial hop bitterness hits the palate quickly up front and fades away during the remainder of the sip. Citrus zest, lemongrass, and a faint herbal tea leaf flavor comprise a good majority of the rest of the flavor. The finish contains some heavier lager yeast, leaving a crisp and mouth-coating finish; light bitterness and an even lighter fruit zest. Thin bodied with a different mouth feel - borderline "creamy" considering the style and thin body. Lots of carbonation.

Easy drinker; relaxed, mild, and highly quaffable. Nothing tremendous in terms of flavor or aroma, but then again, nothing off-putting or offensive, either. I respect the originality of the style but I think I prefer "Steamy Windows" from Liberty Street over this one, despite its history as the precedent-setter.

Apr 24, 2013
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ChristianAlexander from California

3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A beer that's named as a homage to past times where 19th century steel and cotton mill workers lined up for miles after their fifteen hour workdays to drink locally concocted beer. These breweries of a bygone era utilized pipes to transfer simmering hot wort from the kettle to a fermentation tank which resulted in steam rising to the ceiling thus giving the beer its nickname. With a light yet subtly heavy taste, this beer is great for many pedestrians making their first steps out from the pavement of watery piss onto the highway of quality beer. Whenever I pass through San Francisco I make it my mission to visit this brewery for a couple or several beer flights before hitting the road again. And really the ability to drink relatively large amounts of this tasty beer while staying cognizant enough to drive and text a friend where I had just been is one of the many great qualities of this beverage.

Sep 18, 2016
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Pantalones from Virginia

4.02/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My last bottle from the six-pack I picked up semi-recently. Mysterious code on the back is "7A8," whatever that might indicate... I can only assume it's a coded bottled-on or best-by date, but I don't know how to decode it and I'm a little more concerned with drinking and reviewing the beer at the moment rather than looking up exactly how old it is!

Everything is really nice appearance-wise -- deep golden color, bordering on the lighter orange range, and very clear with streams of little bubbles rising from the bottom. Forms a decently-sized layer of slightly off-white foam when first poured, shrinking to a thin coating within a couple minutes but staying fairly solid even then (no holes forming in it or anything just yet.)

Every bottle of this beer so far has really struck me with how fresh-smelling it is, and this is no exception. It's mild, but what's there is just a really nice bready smell with a crispness/freshness to it that's unusually noticeable even when compared to other lighter-to-medium beers that you'd expect to have that sort of feature to them. There's a bit of a hoppy thing in the background but the bready malt is the most noticeable smell right away.

The taste is also nice and bready, with a bit of a yeastiness to it that pops in and reveals its identity as not quite your standard lager after all. Very crisp and refreshing, as you'd expect going by the smell. A bit of bitterness on the end, a bit of an almost European-ish but not quite hop flavor going on, but mostly what you taste is a nice bready malt and the yeastiness that I'm guessing comes from the use of a higher fermentation temperature. The yeastiness almost takes on a quality that's somewhere between doughy and banana-y after a while. It's not a super complex beer but it is a tasty one. I recall being reminded somewhat of celery seed when I first had this beer, but I'm not getting much of that this time around. It's still very nice either way.

The feel is light, crisp, noticeably carbonated, and quite dry. Goes down pretty easily but it's not a thin, watery "chug it!" sort of beer, more one that you can either take a sip or a gulp at a time depending on how thirsty you are at the moment. I imagine people back in the 1890s way out in California would lean toward big gulps -- I bet this would be one of those beers that would be really refreshing to have cold and drink fast right after coming in from being out in the summer heat for an hour or two.

Overall, a great beer and one that I'm glad I finally got a chance to try. Try it for the historical experience of a surviving beer from the California Gold Rush, for the novelty of getting to sample an oddball beer style that you don't see around often, because the label art is really neat, or even just because you want a beer -- but it's definitely one that you should try at some point, one way or the other.

Jul 14, 2017
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Heftklammer from Massachusetts

3.27/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Jun 18, 2019
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cwd from Kentucky

3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

May 28, 2020
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tatterdash from Canada (ON)

4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting style... it sort of combines the clarity and hoppiness of a lager with the head and maltiness of an ale. Pours a clear brown with a big foamy head which looks very good. Smell was nutty and hoppy. Taste was a sort of "This is a lager?" taste, nutty, with some roasted malts and a nice hoppy finish. This is a very interesting beer, sort of having multiple personalities.

Oct 24, 2004
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jwc215 from Arizona

3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a a light amber color with a relatively thick head that fairly quickly becomes a thin lace. There is quite a bit of carbonation at first. But that too disspipates after a brief time.
The smell is light. After smelling it, I wasn't sure what to expect, maybe a hint of caramel flavor. Nothing special, but nothing offensive.
The taste is thick but without much of a distinct flavor, except a bit of refreshing sweetness. Tastes good but nothing special.
It does leave a refreshing feel in the mouth, as there is nothing offensive, while nothing special about it either.
Overall, it is a decent session beer.

Mar 12, 2006
Anchor Steam Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 6380 ratings