Anchor Small Beer | Anchor Brewing Company

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Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer
451 Ratings
Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 3.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
"We believe you will find Anchor Small Beer delicious--similar to what modern brewers call a "bitter"--and we hope you will also enjoy the idea of reviving an ancient brewing tradition, which is something of great importance. "

"We make our Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale from the rich first runnings of an all-malt mash, and Anchor Small Beer is our attempt to duplicate the "small beers" of old by sparging that same mash: sprinkling warm water over the Old Foghorn mash after the first wort has run off, thereby creating a second, lighter brew from the resulting thinner wort. "

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 451 |  Reviews: 327
Photo of Lone_Freighter
4/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an English pint glass, the appearance was a semi-thick dark orange to rust color with a sturdy finger's worth of white foamy head that slid off at a moderate pace. Subsiding amount of lace glossed the sides of the glass.
The aroma had some sweet biscuits/bready malts playing with some grassy to earthy hops. Light clean acceptable "soapiness" came in but wasn't distracting.
The flavor moderated between the biscuits/breadiness to the hops (which weren't bitter, but I get that) to the clean soapiness (which was somewhat expected). Aftertaste was the bready malts and earthy to grassy hops.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a great sessionability about it. Carbonation seemed barely there, but that's expected for the style. ABV felt appropriate.
Overall, as an English Bitter brewed by an American brewer, it's hard to find much else on the market here in the states that's going to be much better. Me, for the style, this is worth your time if you're fan of the style. I understand many people won't get this beer, but if anything, I'll say this: it's a fish n' chips sort of beer.

 1,107 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I was impressed by the appearance on a second runnings beer like this, came in amber colored, like a 2nd running barleywine, so it had that going for it. Aroma was totally unlike a barleywine though, very muted and absent.

Taste is an easy drinking affair with slight malt evidence beyond the color and mild hopping. Easily sessionable. Has its place and is totally within the enviro green marketing being that they are using second runnings.

Ultimately though, I'd rather have a more assertive session ipa with hop mouthfeel, but I give this props for being one of the few commercial examples of such a thing.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.37/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

In reducing my still-high number of styles without a review, I now add a new tactic: defend those mild-mannered beers that may have been beat-up unfairly.
Small Beer qualifies.
I'm assuming English bitters lack popularity in the U.S. because low-alcohol content and balanced use of hops tend not to sell as much as less-than-balanced use of hops.
But, I like how Small Beer reuses mash from its barleywine, Old Foghorn.
Environmentally and economically wise. (Beer culture is more than a beverage.)
Does Small Beer score well as a great beer?
No, but that also was not its goal.
I've had this twice and my notes indicate DBA (Don't Buy Again.)
Will I?
Well, its mouthfeel is pleasant to my palate; malty, not bubbly, not hoppy.
Maybe it works as a shared mid-day session or with a light lunch or snack.

MJ's 1999 edition gave it 3 of 4 stars and said "Old Foghorn's second runnings are used in the classic fashion to produce a dry, drinkable Small Beer."

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Photo of 31Sam13
3.5/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of brianmandell
2.75/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Photo of BKotch
3.51/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of seedyone
4.34/5  rDev +38.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

06/27/13 On tap At Rattle N Hum, NYC. As 'small beers' are, by definition, made from the by-products of other batches, this has quite a substantial taste. Don't see it in the long haul, but there is nothing to shy away from in his glass.

 237 characters

Photo of DrBier
3.34/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of misternebbie
3.12/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Photo of wethorseblanket
3.7/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of brother_rebus
2.94/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Its enh. Smooth watery finish. A bit of a woody, sour nose to it. Not terrible. The novelty of it all is nice. I think they know that. The lack of carbonation would be better on tap.

 182 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.25/5  rDev +3.8%

Photo of ColdOneKev
3.75/5  rDev +19.8%

A - Clear gold buddy, large fluffy white head. Fades quickly to a thin covering and leaves little lacing.
S - Lightly toasted bread and not too much else.
T - Dough, bread, biscuit, caramel, slight spiciniess/peppery hops.
M - Light body, medium carb.
O - An very nicely flavored beer considering the ABV. Worth trying especially if you're a fan of the Old Foghorn.

 368 characters

Photo of Kishanti
3.75/5  rDev +19.8%

3.5/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of bkbergen
3/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of Jeffreysan
4/5  rDev +27.8%

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, clear, deep, amber color with a quarter of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Not much in the aroma department, in fact, I don’t get any aromas at all, which is disappointing.

Taste: Lots of flavor, though! Lots of bready, toasted malt flavor up front, imparting flavors of biscuits, whole wheat crackers and English muffins, flowed by some brown sugar-like sweetness, black pepper, and more great toasted malt! Delicious!

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and pretty smooth as there isn’t much in the way of carbonation. With an ABV of 3.3%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a very, very tasty beer! I love all of the bready malt and smooth mouthfeel. Definitely worth a drink!

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Photo of leantom
4.1/5  rDev +31%

Why not? Here goes:

A - Clear orange-amber with a massive head that leaves a ton of lacing. In fact, the beer was bursting forth upon opening the bottle (had to get the glass quickly). Great. 4.5/5

S: Grainy amber and lightly kilned malts. Grainy smells predominate. There is also somewhat of a spiciness imparted from the yeast. I think it's good for the style. Maybe could've been a little sweeter. 4.25/5

T: Taste follows the nose. Grainy taste from the malt; spice/white pepper from the yeast. The yeast imparts a very earthy flavor that is complimented by a light but watered-down malt backbone. Somewhat disappointing, but given the alcohol content I'm not surprised the malt was somewhat lacking. 3.75/5

M: Light and smooth. Glides down the tongue. However, the beer is very well-carbonated. 4/5

O: A solid beer. Malt more robust in the Anchor Steam Beer, but this one is good. 4.1/5.0

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Photo of costanzo_mike
3.25/5  rDev +3.8%

Photo of SimonPuggle
3/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of pisano
3/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of wieshefe17
3/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of pjbfromkc
3.75/5  rDev +19.8%

Photo of gonzo000
3.24/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

a. Deeper in color than expected - light brown. Nice 2 finger head which disappears quickly. promising.

s. barley and grape seed.

t. All Barley. This is a barley ale without much in the way of dressing. One note.

m. Good, nothing to sing about.

o. Disappointed with this offering from one of my favorites - Anchor.

 318 characters

Photo of wrightst
2/5  rDev -36.1%

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Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.13 out of 5 with 451 ratings