Anchor Small Beer
Anchor Brewing Company

Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer
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English Bitter
3.16 | pDev: 17.09%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Anchor Small BeerAnchor Small Beer
Notes: "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. "
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Reviews: 327 | Ratings: 453 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Paz8812:
Photo of Paz8812
3.25/5  rDev +2.8%

More User Reviews:
Photo of seedyone
4.34/5  rDev +37.3%
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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.24/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a brilliantly clear copper color, topped by a thick wonderfully long lasting off white head that creates the classic Belgian lacing as the beer is consumed. The aroma is of grain & some spicy hoppiness reminiscent of an open field. The taste is light & finishes with a spritzy bitterness. There is some dry grain character in the taste as well. The hop flavor is somewhat subdued (which is appropriate for an English bitter, which this beer characterizes itself as), but there is a nice hop spicing which adds some piney notes and a certain zing in the middle of this beer. There is a bit of nuttiness here too. Perhaps a tad too bitter to be spot on to style but I do like it anyway. Quite a clean strain of ale yeast was used as there is not much in the way of fruitiness or esters that might have added a bit more complexity.

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Photo of juhl31
2.26/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

-very cleat light gold. white head with big bubbles that kind of deteriorate crackylike (yup, i made that sentence)

-whoa malt liquor. kinda harsh. barely sweet with an apricot hint to it

-double malt liquor! a bit of a gnarly malt taste to it that has some bitter apricot taste to it...but not in a good way

-on the harsh end. not much body, which makes sense to how it was brewed

-they should have just said this was a malt liquor and sold it for 1.50 and it would be the best malt liquor ever. instead it's just disappointing that i spent 3.50 on it

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Photo of mentor
2.16/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Large bottle obtained from John's Grocery (Iowa City) and consumed that same evening (June 2005). Freshness stamp on the bottle was 5FG. Poured a thin head of fine white bubbles, just enough to cover the liquid. Crystal clear light rust liquid and the head is already a ring around the glass. Smells of diluted chocolate and roast grains. Maybe some fuggles or other british hop. Tastes tannic and quite hoppy bitter. Some orangey hop qualities that remind me of Goldings. I get a very dilute chocolate and a hint of roast, but no hop floral. There is a grassy dull flavor that I've tasted in 2nd running homebrews that I've made. This beer is dry with no malt sweet to carry the beer. The aftertaste leaves a grassy dryness on my tongue. Md light mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Not often I do this, but I dumped most of the beer on the lawn. Not good.

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Photo of tone77
3.27/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 22 oz. bottle. Has a rich golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of malts, a bit sweet. Taste is nothing like the smell, there is some malts but with considerable bitterness, a bit of grains, not bad but not overly pleasent. Feels light in the mouth and overall is a mediocre beer.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.2/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This one pours very pale copper with a frothy ivory head. Smells surprisingly malty for a beer so light. Sweet caramel malt with underpinnings of floral hops.

Initially, lots of carbonic bite in the mouth. Very, very carbonated without a lot of body to offset it. You can taste some caramel malt in here but it is, as expected, quite thin. Very fizzy, very crisp and very light.

If the carbonation was backed off a little bit, this would be a pretty tasty and refreshing ale. The ample carbonation, however, serves to overpower the rest of the flavors instead of enhancing them. I'll have to give it another try sometime but this one is pretty disappointing.

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Photo of taylocd
2.13/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Poured from 22 ounce bottle into tulip.

A - pale clear gold with continuous bubbling and great head retention from carbonation; very little lacing, though

S - aroma similar to that of soft rubber baby bottle nipples

T - odd plastic/resin flavor

M - nice zip from carbonation, medium 'feel' or body

O - the aroma and flavor are too much to overcome to make this worth a repeat try.

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Photo of akorsak
2.21/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A 22 oz bottle with the distinctive shape of Anchor beers.

A: The ale is an orange color, slightly brown, with a finger's worth of head that doesn't lace.

S: The aroma is cereal, very grainy, with an undertone of subtle bitterness.

T: The ale is a the second running of grains from Old Foghorn. I am not a big fan of the Ol' 'horn to begin with. The ale starts with a thin, grainy body and never gets off the ground from there. The flavor is short-lived and quite thin, hitting fast and quickly leaving. The longer the ale sits in the mouth, it picks up a medicinal sharpness that is not enjoyable in the least bit.

M: The mouthfeel is thin and shrilly until the end when that aforementioned medicinal quality pops up, further ruining the sip.

D: The low abv was the impetus to buy the bottle, in hindsight I should have had better criteria in place.

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Photo of tchenery
2.99/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very bright and crisp looking with a nice one-finger bright white head and noticable carbonation.

Very subtle malt notes and a little bit of hops.

Taste is interesting. It tastes more like seltzer water than beer. That being said, I've never had a 'small beer' from second runnings before. I'm glad I tried it but I wouldn't go for another.

Very dry and crisp mouthfeel. Extremely spritzy.

Not all that drinkable which is surprising for the ABV level.

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Photo of RootedFool
3.95/5  rDev +25%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 18 ounce bottle purchased at the North Coast Co-op in Eureka, California. The body is translucent copper, very bright with a few bubbles rising through the middle, with a foamy off-white head that rises fast and tall and leaves a few scattered dots of lace on the glass.

The smell is a refreshing waft of freshly pulled lemon grass with a crisp background of unbuttered bisquits.

Taste: opens with a slightly sour bitterness on the tip of my palate, giving way to a more complex backwash of flavors -- citrus rinds (a clean, crisp bitterness), fresh sourdough bread. The aftertaste is a hint of green apple resting on the bed of grassy bitterness. Lovely.

Mouthfeel coincides with the taste prefectly: clean and crisply carbonated.

The fact that this has barely any alcohol content, and with so much flavor, there are no adverse side-effects (as I'm drinking this in the early afternoon) and it's incredibly enjoyable.

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Photo of gueuzeonhigh
3.43/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours looking hearty but somewhat somber red-amber as streams of effervescence rise from the bottom of the glass .

Produces a nice frothy white head that hangs around a while but gradually recedes back to the beer's surface. Ample lacing records the head's procession on its return to the origin.

The nose is very light-- almost nonexistent.

Flavor is rather light with hints of hops and pepper spice. Much of the flavor and mouthfeel is that of a noticeable flavor of hops and spice and then that initial flavor vanishes with a rather water-like consistency.

One worthy thing that comes to mind- is that this beer has the ABV of many American adjunct beers but it also has much more flavor and complexity. Thus for a low ABV beer this beer can be a much more satisfying drink.

Mouthfeel is cordial- as this beer is rather light flavored. All of this beer's attributes bring to mind "lite".

Overall I think this beer can be a satisfying thirst quencher on a hot day. It can also be a satisfying light alcohol beer while still supplying the essence of beer. If you're after a hearty ale, you will be disappointed.

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Photo of meeekyh
3.8/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I thought this was in interesting beer style to try. I also find it interesting that the beer is 'barley legal' here in Colorado in that at only 3.3% ABV it just crosses the threshold of legal to sell in actual beer/liquor stores.

The beer is a deep golden color, honey may be a better description, with little head and the lacing is not great.

Smells are a bit burnt and a bit grassy and there is not apparently a lot more to it than that.

The taste is clean. There is grainy goodness and a bit of bitterness. A peppery note creeps into the finish along with straw and grassy tastes. It is a lot fuller in the mouth than the nose.

Mouthfeel is light but not insignificant making for a rather refreshingly clean beer.

Overall I like this beer. It is full without being a big beer At 3.3 ABV I find it hard to imagine a more appropriate session beer with similar alcohol content ans 1/2 the flavor. Though there is Stone Levitation at 4.4% which has about twice the flavor.

Good beer and interesting.


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Photo of merlin48
3.71/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Surprised to see a bottle of this in nearby Evansville, Indiana. Large bottle pours a clear honey amber body with a small and tightknit white head. Retention is good with some patchy lacing left on the glass.

Aroma is discreet. Some toasty and biscuity malt and some mildly spicy hops. Not much to mention.

Lovely mouthfeel boasts a soft carbonation that is caressing. Body is light and crisp.

Taste is subdued but pleasant. Slightly sweet biscuity malt melds with an understated spicy hops presence. Nice balance. Taste is clean and airy, goes down quite easy.

Label says this is the second runnings of their excellent Old Foghorn barleywine. Interesting concept of an oldtime style. I could drink this stuff all day but would probably get bored.

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Photo of JmBrkr
2.5/5  rDev -20.9%

Photo of donnebaby
3.89/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Active gold body and a poofy uneven fluff head...but thick. Nose is weak, no doubt there.

The total taste is an awesomely flavorful bitterness that hits as soon as the excellent level of carbonation recedes. Aftertaste of faint toasted grains comes in nice.

Clean, perfect beer--but not even too refined either. Interesting yet normal, normal but interesting. Something about it is just never shallow..

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Photo of Kopfschuss
3/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of tjd25
3.31/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at the brewery.
Nice foamy head, dense and creamy on a golden yellow color body. The smell was malty and even a bit worty with a wet boiling character. The taste was crisp with a hoppy finish getting a little grassy and chey. Light hints of lemon. Clean, pilsner like, but a bit boring.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.2/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into SN hop pint glass.

A: Pours a citrus golden color with an incredible, thick, chunky, rocky, billowing white head that took its sweet time to die down into a thick film that left chunks and sheets of sticky lacing down the side of the glass.
S: Very light notes of spicy hops, dry grain, light carmamely malt, and earthy tones.
T: Very light flavors. Earthy grains dominate with a slight sweetness from the underlying malt. Hops are mild and lend a touch of bitter/sour citrus feel. Aftertaste is a tad off-putting.
M: Light body with a dry grainy mouthfeel. A little on the watery side.
D: A very drinkable, sessionable beer. Nothing spectacular in the flavor department, and a very light pale ale, but I respect how they made it and I wouldn't mind drinking this again.

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Photo of WetCoaster
4.35/5  rDev +37.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Deep honey amber with a pure white head. Good retention. Incredibly fine, almost invisible carbonation. Some slippery lace.

Smell: Surprising. Really rich, nice malt backbone with a distinct floral hoppiness. Mild, but quite good.

Taste: Wha? Even more surprising. The body is very light and crisp, as you might expect. The flavor, though, is something else. The flavor is a bit of an hourglass; there's not much body, but the hops and malt really pop. There's a smooth, creamy malt richness with a bracing hoppy bitterness. It's mild, and you can sort of tell it's a dumbed-down version of something, but the balance is almost perfect.

Drinkability: Taken in context, outstanding. Is this a great, or even above average, pale ale? Not really. But if you think about what this beer actually is for a minute -- a 2-2.5% "near beer" (rumor has it the listed 3.3% is QUITE optimistic) -- it's a bloody miracle; a picnic/gathering beverage you can drink all day and remain (relatively) sober that doesn't taste like tin can full of boiled cat urine. Wouldn't drink this every day, but in that situation, I would definitely go back to this one. Try it -- you might be surprised.

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Photo of monkeylice
3.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.71/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear dark amber with an appreciable, though slight, orangish hue. The cap has a quality look about it. At present, it's a solid three fingers of bone white foam that is nicely rocky. It has the same consistency as bubble bath and small chunks are beginning to stick to the glass. Large, pocked sheets eventually form.

Big step down when it comes to the nose. I smell untoasted, slightly sour grain with a mere hint of hoppiness. Let's hope the beer is saving itself for the palate, because if it tastes like it smells... thumbs down.

Another step down, believe it or not. Other than the fact that it's American, pale and an ale, it has no resemblance to an APA as I've come to understand the style. Low on malt, moderate on hops, high on hop bitterness. This is one of the most bitter (in a bad way) and driest beers that I've had in a while. Old Foghorn must have gotten the lion's share of the sugar because Small Beer is mucus membrane-suckingly dry and borders on unpleasant.

It's exceptionally clean with an incredibly light body, but the bitter dryness (to risk beating a dead horse) keeps it from being a mindless, poundable summer beer. I could easily overlook the spritzy carbonation if the beer tasted better.

Anchor deserves some credit for brewing an obscure, traditional beer like this one. Reading a description of the process on their website leads me to wonder how in the world decent beer could result. Well, in my opinion, it doesn't. Just because they *can* brew beer from the Old Foghorn mash (i.e. waste) doesn't mean they *should*. No thanks.

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Photo of OttoBomb
3.51/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle into a Dogfish Head signature glass (April 17, 2010). No freshness date, though "9NW" is printed on the rear of the bottle, not sure what that means.

This is a "small beer" which by definition will be a weakened versions of another beer. I'm reviewing this as such rather than the listed "English Bitter" style.

Eyes: Pours an almost clear gold with an orange tint, an impressive snow-white rocky head forms and retains well.

Nose: Modest grains with a mild hop statement. The weakest area overall.

Tongue: Surprisingly bitter, very dry with a cracker-like character. The malt is understated and the hops overstated, but the balance is still there. I'm not sure this beer would have much of anything to offer without the extra hops since this is a second running of a mash.

Mouth: Spritzy carbonation with a clean, light body.

Libation: I can't say I really like small beers as there are other low alcohol options with plenty of flavor. This isn't a great beer, but for the style it has enough flavor to make this very, very drinkable.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.38/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy light peach topped with a mountain of cap that settles to a bubbly coating.

Balanced nose of waffle and light toasted oats.

First swigs: Toffee and cheerios. Some butterscoth candy. More malty than hoppy. Some linger of metalic twinges.

Thin feel which rings true to style.

Last swigs: A fantastic session candidate! 3.3% ABV. Hats off to Anchor for this style of 2nd runnings.

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Photo of beagle75
3.46/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Draft pour into a shaker pint glass at Beachwood BBQ.

A: Clear, light amber color with over one finger of diminishing white foam head. Moderate lacing remains on the glass and clusters of submerged bubbles cling to the wall of the glass, rising occasionally as individuals.

S: Husky pilsner malt is featured in this beer's generally mild scent that is clean, but leaves little impact on the senses.

T: Begins dry, with crisp grassy hops and bright acidity that becomes more intense as the beer warms. A fair amount of bitterness develops in the middle alongside substantial toasted malt that carries through into the finish, leaving an impression of wheat heavy on the palate.

M: Thin viscosity, acidic on the palate but coating in the finish, with moderate carbonation.

D: While this beer is certainly attractively low in alcohol, it is able to deliver surprisingly intense malt-focused flavor whose bright acidity is most appealing in the presence of some of our favorite everyday foods. Its flavor profile is more like a helles lager--or its steam beer older sibling--than a bitter. The acidity can come across as harsh, and the smell is a let-down, but otherwise this is a beer that ought to be more common than it is.

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Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 73 out of 100 with 453 ratings