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. "

Added by UnionMade on 11-11-2000

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 451 |  Reviews: 327
Reviews by beagle75:
Photo of beagle75
3.46/5  rDev +10.5%
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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More User Reviews:
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.

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Photo of oberon
3.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The first beer I had today during the travesty that happened in Columbus,poured a dull slight hazed golden with a well formed one finger white head that stuck around for quite awhile.Very unpleasant aromas like that of rotting fruit almost just overtook the toasted grain notes cant put my finger on it I just know I didnt like it.The flavors were a bit better bbut still pretty basic toasty lighty sweet biscuity malt a touch of earthy hop but nothing really stands out.Hmm pretty basic the aroma was bad but the flavors were pretty good,a decent quaffer but I wouldnt look to buy it again.

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Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - The orange body is almost florescent. The head looked pretty good and laced the glass on the way down.

Smell - The malt aromas are secondary to the citrusy hops. Everything is kind of light at the nose.

Taste - An interesting mix of straight malt and citrus hops. There's no sweetness to this one. The finish is hoppy and dry.

Mouthfeel - Small carbonation and a refreshing mouthfeel help this one down.

Drinkability - This beer is sharp and undulating. It went down well with my very spicy Mexican dish.

Update - It has been almost five years since I first reviewed this beer so thought I'd give it another whirl in 2008. I thought the aroma was more pronounced as was the carbonation. It really does have a nice bitter kick at the end. I raised my overall rating from 3.8 to 4.0.

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Photo of brownbeer
3.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very transparent, light amber color.

The aroma is of faint English hops. It's earthy with a hint of lemon and subtle graininess.

The taste is gone before it hits. Soft grains and tea in the flavor. Clean and inoffensive, it finishes on a nicely crisp, bitter note.Let it warm up and a little more flavor is coaxed out.

I'm on board with low abv beers, like this one, that are priced right. But even in the world of English Bitters, which is where I would catagorize this taste-wise, it still doesn't stand out a whole lot. That being said, it's a worthy beer.

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Photo of JudgeRoughneck
3.43/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I'll start off by saying I have no freakin clue why this is listed as an APA and not a "Archaic/ Historical" or whatever. Anyway, I'll not be reviewing or rating it as a pale ale. It is small beer. Which, aparently is a beer that is like exactly the color of those tacky amber/yellow glasses your grandma has kept since the 70's. If your grandma is dead or has good taste, I'm very sorry. A visit to any Goodwill should yeild the glasses in question. Anyway, it looks amazing, with good carbonation and nice, tight, shave-cake of head that just squats on top of the beer and goes nowhere.

The aromas are alcohol, spicy hops, and a more robust version of the malt aroma most lagers have. The tase is interesting but simple. This is a very dry and strongly bittered beer. It has a few "off-flavors", including vegetal and soapy, but they are all very subtle and combine with a salty character to give this brew a loveable funkiness. Midwieght mouthfeel is light and grippy and helps things along nicely.

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Photo of skybluewater
2.38/5  rDev -24%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very pale gold color. Smells odd, with a harsh hoppiness that isn't very pleasent. Taste as well isn't all that great. It has a rather harsh quality to it that disappates somewhat as the beer warms. Towards the end, I can almost taste a great beer in there somewhere...

Hmm, reading previous reviews of this, I'm thinking I got a bum bottle or something. Then again, it IS fresh, as per the bottle code I just spent 45 minutes decrypting. As such, I'm going to have to say that I just don't care for this beer.

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Photo of EastBay_Nick
2/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.41/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bomber poured into a pint glass. The beer was a golden color with a medium white head that was a bit on the sticky side. Not much aroma, just a little malt and flowers. It had a piney hops taste that was perhaps more bitter than I wanted it to be. I think the degree of bitterness would keep it from being a good session beer.

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Photo of Todd
3.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 1 pint, 6oz bowling pin style brown bottle. No freshness date, bottled on 09/15/2000.

Appearance: Light, clear amber/golden. Large bubbled frothy white lace

Smell: Smells of watery hops and malts. Has a bit of an earthy, grain husk aroma.

Taste: Light bodied with a fairly consistent mouthfeel. Malt flavour and sweetness is thin. There's a crisp dryness that is augmented by a good dose of carbonation, grain husk flavours (tannin-like) and bold hops that dominate with a sharp, salty, citrus bite. About 3/4 of the way through you can pick up on yeast characteristics, like some light nuttiness and bready flavours. Palate finishes dry with more grain husk flavours (powdery mouthfeel).

Notes: This is a decent beer, a good session beer. Anchor applied some "waste not, want not," as it's made by rinsing warm water (secondary runnings) over the mash of Old Foghorn, Anchor's seasonal barley-style wine. Very rare style these days.

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Photo of generallee
3.18/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 1pt. 6oz bottle into an imperial pint glass. The neck label has a short description of the beer but there is no freshness date or abv%.

Appearance: The body has a light amber to orange amber color with good clarity and some visible carbonation. From the pour I got an average size head (about two fingers) with a just off white color. This head fades slowly and makes some nice lacing on the glass as I drink.

Smell: It light overall and has a light pale biscuit like maltiness with some mild grassy/herbal hops. (This was not what I was expecting at all.)

Taste/Palate: The flavor closely matches the smell. It starts with a thin pale malt with light bready and biscuity notes. This is then quickly over run by a slightly citrusy, almost astringent, grassy hop character. It finishes with this acidic bitterness hanging on to the tongue. The body has a light and fairly thin feel with plenty of scrubbing carbonation.

Notes: For a beer based off the second running of there Barleywine this was not what I was expecting and not a beer that I would seek out again.

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Photo of Jason
2.94/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bright orange amber colour. The head retention if this ale is unreal; big and dense, frothy and rocky … seems to leave a nice trail of lace also. An ale pulled from the second running typically does not have this kind of head, but as I see the malt runs thin and they seemed to over hop. Bitterness is to the point of being the only flavour upfront which really kills the chances of the flavour being any good. Bit of a citric hop twang from middle to end. Graininess with some mild astringency is typical of a small beer of second runnings but this is pushing it to the point of being a chore to put down. Not a beer I would go back to unless it was on cask or at least only a few week old on tap.

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Photo of merlin48
3.71/5  rDev +18.5%
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 Billolick
3.16/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This one pours a very light shade of amber, crystal clear, alot of carbonation early, leads to a puffy white head, with long lasting retentive powers, leaves a mess of thick lacing, nice. Faint malty nose. taste is the problem here, its a tad metallic, sharp, watery and thin. The mouthfeel is also prickly, even as it warms up a bit. There is far better beer out there, this a noble and well intentioned try from the good folks @ A.S., but it misses the mark. Needs to be softened out, could use some more malt to ease it across the tongue

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Photo of Mora2000
3.5/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a very clear yellow with a white head. The aroma is corn and wheat. Very macro like. The aroma is corn with some very light hops, wheat and possibly some light skunking. Thin mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Anchor makes some great beers but this is not one of them.

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Photo of magictrokini
2.22/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle. Clear yellow pour with moderate white head. Aroma is a blatant false advertising of malts and saaz hops. Taste is watery, very watery. There's malt and hops to be had, in very small quantities. It tastes like a Fullers after I'm done with it. I know this is a low-alcohol, but you should really avoid it.

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Photo of Tabni
3/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of jondeelee
3.21/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Anchor's Small Beer is made from the same mash as their Old Foghorn barleywine-style ale: after the first runnings have been drained off for Old Foghorn, the mash is soaked again, and the second run is used for Small Beer. The result is a beer that is intentionally lighter and weaker (only 3.3% ABV). Small Beer still has some of the barleywine aromas--apricot, brown sugar, vanilla, orange, lemon--but they are less pronounced.

On the tongue, the beer is light, but refreshing, tasting somewhat like a cross between a non-skunky Corona and a light IPA. Citrus flavors dominate--oranges, lemons, apricots--but the beer also bears a strong bitterness, akin to grapefruit rind, and a peppery spiciness. Mouthfeel is light, and carbonation is medium-high.

Overall, Small Beer is a good beer, and for a second-run brew, is still far better than anything Anheuser-Busch puts out. I do find the bitterness somewhat out of balance with the sugars, but still think the result is quite palatable, and refreshing--this is a brew I'd like to take to the beach on a hot day.

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Photo of mrw1zard
3/5  rDev -4.2%

Photo of Osiris9588
2.63/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz bomber. Pours a pale rusty gold color. The frothy white head shows good retention.

The aroma is quite weak--a faint scent of orange and yeast. The flavor is rather weak as well. It progresses from a yeasty, watery flavor straight to very metallic, astringent hoppiness.

The mouth is light and shows almost no complexity, finishing on an unpleasant tinny note. It would be drinkable, yet the lack of flavor discourages repeat rounds. I'll pass on this.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Good looking pour for a beer that is reused wort, amber, very sticky head. Aroma is pretty nil.

Taste, very easy drinking, slightly bitter and very slight hopping. Super sessiony. Gotta appreciate the relative uniqueness of this beer. Waste not want not. Extremely light mouthfeel, but that's pretty much by design.

Pretty unique, I'd keep one around for when you want to drink an Old Foghorn, and your old lady/sissy friend wants to drink to, but you don't wanna hear about how your barleywine is "nasty".

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Photo of ADR
3.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I love that they do this beer, reminds me of beers that workers carried in pails for lunch in the old days...

Darker than I expected, nice sub-amber with a very thin head at the top. Smell of mostly hop with just a little sweetness. Bitter but pretty pleasant initial taste and a little bitter at the back, there wasn't a lot of maltiness in the brew. "Sparged from a Barleywine wort", the Barleywine was obviously very hopped. Pretty mouth challenging for a low alcohol brew. Pretty OK flavor and another unique brew from a company that saved micros in the US...

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Photo of mglaser37
3.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Head: Had little hold but was white and a bit fluffy at first.

Aroma: This beer has a hoppy/grassy smell to it.

Color: This is a light pale ale…has a light golden color.

Flavor: Was bitter/hoppy & nutty…bitter finish.

Mouth-feel: This was very watery…easy to drink. Body had a decent amount of carbonation but not to the tongue.

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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 bahana
4.1/5  rDev +31%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was very pleasantly surprised by this beer. Very light and drinkable. It would be a good alternative to having a light lager outside on a hot day. I love the mouthfeel how it tingles the tongue. Seems like it would go well with a light fish. Smell isn't much, but the crisp taste makes up for it.

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