Anchor Small Beer | Anchor Brewing Company

326 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 326 | Ratings: 450
Photo of IntriqKen
3.65/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear golden yellow with a 2 finger white head that melts to a ring of lacing.
Aromas are biscuit grainy bread...nice...with light pale malt sweetness but mostly the biscuit yeast.
Thin mouthfeel but it is a very light beer and I think supposed to be.
Only slightly citrus hoppy in the flavor..just enough to dry your mouth as you swallow.
Pleasant and if cheaper would make a wonderful summer session brew.

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Photo of cokes
3.65/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear darkened gold with a fat, rocky off-white head and rushing jets of carbonation..
Nose of burnt pizza crust and grassy hops.
Begins with that same sense of burnt pizza....and with that cuisine, it is near perfect. Beyond that, it seems rather average. A subtle caramel maltiness develops, or nearly develops. Turns citric and bitter without any definative flavor. Grapefruit and, oddly, near white grapey tannic bitterness. Ends with an upturn of herbs and leaves.
Light bodied, and quaffable, though not so much as the lowered ABV would indicated.
It is, however, decent. I'd run through it again.

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Photo of andjusticeforale
3.65/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured big and brown-amber, with an ample head. The smell was hoppy and euro-lager smelling. As you drink, you realize that the best thing about this is the mouthfeel; fullbodied but perfect and refreshing, without too much alcohol(3.30%).
Hence the term "get pissed" cause if you want to catch a buzz you will be doing some drinking. But, nonetheless, there is a nice bitterness here, one that would make this nice with chinese food or fried springrolls.

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Photo of adowney523
3.65/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Aggresively poured into a shaker pint glass from a 22 oz brown bottle. Pours amber and clear with a thin off-white head that slowly fades.

Smells grainy with strong hints of lemon.

Tastes of raw malt with citrus fruit and floral tastes throughout. Slight earthy hops in the finish.

Rather light-bodied, finishes very dry. A refreshing beer for my 4th of July, recommended for sessions paired with BBQ.

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Photo of Dansting
3.65/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Clear golden color with a light white head. Slight lacing. Aroma is light and almost smells like toast. Definitely different. Easy-drinking mouthfeel. Flavor is small, like its name suggest, with a slightly hoppy and bitterness to it. I'm a fan of Anchor, and this is a decent beer. I'll buy it again.

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Photo of Seanibus
3.65/5  rDev +17%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasty but not deep.

Pours deep copper with a slight but sticky head. The aroma is malty and sharp. The flavor is very bitter, masking the thinness of the low ABV and general thinness of the beer. This is not a great beer in a general sense, but given the low abv, it is a great session beer.

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Photo of ADR
3.63/5  rDev +16.3%
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 morimech
3.63/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light golden color with a large white head that had excellant retention. Not a whole lot of lacing after the initial ring on top. Has a mild citrus and grassy hop aroma and with sourdough thrown into the mix. The flavor is dry and cracker-like. The hops give a little spice and grass notes. Some mineral qualities as well as some vegetable notes in the finish. Bitterness is moderate. Light body with abundant carbonation. Not quite up to macro levels however. An interesting beer. Light body with a friendly low ABV. In the wrong style catagory.

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Photo of Wildman
3.63/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had to give this one a try just to see what was up with this concoction. It poured a nice copper amber color and formed a nice foamy white head that left lattice lace as it subsided. A medium amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of hops, malt, bitters and a touch of caramel. The flavor was of malt and some hop elements. The finish was a sprite, yet a touch bitter. Although it is a low alcohol beer, it really isn't bad a made a good drink after a long walk on a nice sunny Sunday before the rain starts tomorrow.

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Photo of Hibernator
3.63/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this out of a 22 oz brown bottle. There is a bottled on date on the back label that reads 4 AT. I served this in an imperial pint glass.

Pours a clear light amber color with a very nice fluffy head. There is some really good sustain on the head with some rocky, sticky lacings.

The smell is neutral and nothing really sticks out. Smells like grains and wheat.

This is a fairly light bodied brew. A tad watery, yet the mouthfeel lends itself to a crisp, grainy profile. The malts have a light caramel sweetness. This is a very clean beer and that works for a good drinkability level.

Certainly not the best Anchor beer on the market, but still a quality beer worth trying. This beer would work very well on a hot summer day. Very thirst quenching. I had no problem downing this in minimal time.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.6/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle into a dimpled mug.

Appearance: medium orange hue with a touch of haze and a robust effervescence. Head poured a finger of frothy ivory foam, but this is dissipating somewhat rapidly. Still, a nice looking beer.

Smell: sweet malt with plenty of graininess. A little dose of bitey hops is also present. Not too bad.

Taste: light malt with a citrusy hop character. Bitterness at the end is quite moderate, although balanced considering the low alcohol and relatively low sweetness of this brew. There is a sense that this beer is watered-down, but for a 3.3% ABV second-runnings beer, it's not bad at all.

Mouthfeel: light bodied but the big carbonation makes up for some of this. Nicely, if ephemerally, creamy.

Overall: this may not be the greatest beer in the world, but it is quaffable and refreshing and I like its parti-gyle nature. I'd love to have this on draft sometime for a long session.

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Photo of Kbogac
3.58/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Darker amber with a nice two finger head. Lots of visible carbonation. Foam clings to glass all the way down. Smell is very mild hops and malt. Taste is also light. Again hops and malt with a mild bitter finish. This is good beer. Don't try to make it something it's not. It's a second running beer from a barley wine mash. I think it's a great effort and a nice lighter beer.

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Photo of clvand0
3.58/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cool 22oz bottle. Pours a yellow color with a moderate head that doesn't stick around too long and doesn't leave too much lacing on the glass. The aroma reminds me of pilsner malts and lager yeast. The flavor is very pilsner-like. Grainy and subdued flavors with a citrus hop that isn't very strong. The drinkability on this one is pretty nice, but the body is way too thin.

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Photo of largadeer
3.56/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy copper in the glass, topped by a thick frothy white head that looks almost nitro-esque in density. Head retention is unusually good, making for a beautiful and inviting beer. It smells of toffee, stonefruit, plum and faint indistinguishable hops. Light but flavorful on the tongue, the toffee flavor carries through along with a bit of dried fruit, grain, earthy hop flavor and a metallic twang. The body is light and crisp and bitterness is ample. Pretty tasty for a second runnings beer, though it probably won't thrill you.

 531 characters

Photo of Derek
3.56/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear bronze with a huge, fluffy white head, good retention & lace. How do they do it... is it the hop oils?

S: Floral, steelie grass and a bit of San Francisco sour dough bread.

T: Quite hop forward, very steelie and floral; hints of grainy astringency dance with the hop acidity and modest bitterness.

M: Light to moderate body has a light hop acidity and a crisp finish with a hint of tartness.

D: A refreshing summer brew.

Very few brewers use the second runnings. From a historical and environmental point of view I like it. Today this is a very unique brew, which is tough to judge by style... but I'd happily session it in the summer heat.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.56/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from a recent trade, thanks to whomever sent me this! I poured most of this into a 17oz mug and it looks good, amber color, good head. The smell was kind of average, smells like beer, not much else to say. The flavor was a little bitter and actually pretty good for such a low ABV. I killed this pretty fast. I wouldn't buy this again but its a perfect beer for the afternoon.

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Photo of Nerudamann
3.55/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a stein glass.

Look – light amber color, a little hazy, with about half a finger’s worth of slightly frothy off-white colored foam that dissipates slowly.

Smell – not too strong of a smell. It has a general ale type of smell, but with a twisted type of grain..or at least what smells like one. It smells like there might be an alternative being used. Not sorghum, but something close to that.

Taste – very interesting taste. It still tastes like the smell, in that it tastes like there’s an alternative being used for the grain. It almost has an effervescent type of quality. Pretty bitter in the finish.

Mouthfeel – pretty well-balanced, but leans a little more toward the creamy side.

Overall – probably not going to be a favorite of mine, but interesting enough in the taste.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
3.54/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

25 oz brown bottle, capped. No date (but a code on the back label). I really wanted to try this "small beer", and had to search for it in several liquor stores before I located it.

This small beer poured a clear, amber color with creamy, tall, off-white foam that persisted and left good lace on the glass. There was also a nice carbonation from the bottom of the glass. The smell was lightly malty (slightly sweet) with some floral hops and bread/grain aromas. The taste was lightly malty with bitter and floral hops that lingered pleasantly. The mouthfeel was crisp and smooth with a very dry finish (almost astringent). The body was medium-light with moderate carbonation feel. The floral hops really came through in the finish and aftertaste, and this hoppy punch made up for the otherwise light body. This was a very nice ale, and at 3.3% it is quite the session beer. I wish it were more widely available in my area.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Stone gargoyle pint. Pours a light copper amber with a nice two finger yellowish white head with good retention and lacing. Light aroma of sweet malt with slight toastiness, lightly spicy. Flavor is light malt, slightly nutty, finishing malty and dry with bittering hops, slightly astringent. It does give the impression of a more flavorful malty beer that has been watered down, but it is being presented as a remake of the traditional small beers that were widely drunk and made from spent malt. From that point of view, the flavor is very pleasant for the very low ABV and second malt run. It was enjoyable trying this classic style and I'm glad Anchor makes it. It probably would be a good idea to make a category for this style, since it is traditional and was widely drunk at one time. I'm rating it as a small beer, not an English bitter (although it doesn't miss that mark by much).

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Photo of connecticutpoet
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An amber colored beer with a very good sized head, looked pretty good.

The aroma was pretty hoppy, mostly aromatic hops, hints of bittering hops.

The taste was a sharp and bitter tang that passed quickly, much like a light beer does.

It was an interesting beer, about like a good light beer.

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Photo of Durge
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This chubby bottle, that’s been in my fridge for at least a couple of years, poured into a tall glass, shows a bright, clear amber color and a substantial white head and lot’s of lacing. The aroma brings to mind yeasty pumpernickel bread with caramel malt undercurrents, crisp and a bit skunky like some pilsners. The taste brings on an interestingly peppery wheat with more yeasty bread and grassy edges. There is a subtle light fruit sweetness but generally this is more of a grain brew that’s a tad watery but has an effervescent feel with a light body. It’s interesting, kind of basic and not a bad refreshment.

 623 characters

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A gold beer tinged with with a copper glow. Decent head hovered overhead and stayed around. A malt aroma shines through with earthy notes and a touch of hops. Mouthfeel is light and carbonated.

The flavor profile begins with grain-like malt which gives way to hoppy bitterness. A little earthiness appears just after halfway as well. This is not a complex beer, but is drinkable and a solid session ale.

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Photo of BWMKappaSig
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Gold-amber with a thin white head

Smell: Lightly hoppy, lightly malted.

Taste: Bitter, slightly grainy. Well balanced, but moderately week. Bitterness dominates the afatertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body.

Drinkability: Light and refreshing.

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Photo of ciaomonaco
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Head: Low

Aroma: Hops first, very bright.

Color: Golden orange

Carbonation: Low

Mouthfeel: Light

Alcohol: Low

Flavor: Bitter finish

Personal notes: I got some pineapple and/or tropical fruit which is a flavor analogy that one could attribute to the hops.

Since this is a classic bitter beer it is hoppier and brighter rather than sweet, although balanced and easy to drink in succession.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.53/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

24 oz. bowling pin,

A: Pours a pale orange, with a full, long-lasting white head, solid lacing.

S: Strong hop aroma, grassy, light malt.

T: A bitter and somewhat astringent taste of grassy hops dominates the brew, the very low alcohol content allows some carbonic acid flavour as well. Really tasty light treacly sweetness in the aftertaste. My feelings on the flavour have their up and down moments.

M: Very light, which I would expect for a small beer, though I think the biting carbonation detracts from the enjoyment of the beer and makes it less drinkable.

D: A beer that's hard to drink at times, but still an interesting experiment from Anchor. Nice to see a brewer making this rare style which was a common as water during the medieval period.

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Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
3.12 out of 5 based on 450 ratings.
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