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
Photo of beerguy101
1.18/5  rDev -62.3%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Medium orange gold color. Head is smallish. Aroma is malty and slightly skunky. A light bodied beer. Very light and watery tasting. There is something not quite right with this beer, not sure quite what it is, but it ain't right. Malts are way to mild. Hops are way to astringent. And it only 2.3 % alcohol as well. Not a very good effort from Anchor. Mouthfeel is thin. Finish is harsh. Aftertaste is bitter. DRAIN POUR TIME!!

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Photo of sneaks2210
1.25/5  rDev -60.1%

Photo of pmcadamis
1.42/5  rDev -54.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

A - This comes in a uniquely fat bomber-ish sized botte (I think it says 26 ounces in raised lettering on the bottom of the bottle), which is good considering the low ABV. The brew is clear, dull-bronze in color, and topped with a prodigious rocky white head. The head starts at three fingers and gets pitted and chunky on its way down to a solid finger of fluffy whipped-cream whiteness.

S - Cavey mineral and stone notes. This reminds me of wet rock that you might find while on a guided cave tour in Missouri or Tennessee. Beyond that, there is some husky grain and vegetal aromas that are not foul, but are less than enticing.

T - Sour mash whiskey sans EtOH, mineral laden orange well water, bitter sulfuric notes, and an oddly "aged" hop note like burning leaves.

M - Thin, watery, and uber-carbonated with a tinny metallic twinge at the finish... like chewing on aluminum foil with a mouth full of fillings.

D - No thanks. I'll stick with my big beers. Now, where did I stash those extra bottles of Storm King?

Note: I learned that this is actually the second running from a batch of Old Foghorn. If that is the case, then this brings to mind the movie "Twins" and while Old Foghorn plays the role of Arnold, this one is definitely Danny DeVito.

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Photo of Thunder
1.5/5  rDev -52.1%

Photo of armock
1.63/5  rDev -47.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

A - Poured a golden color with a white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of sweet malt and mild hops

T - Wow this stuff is bad its like drinking rotten malt not good at all

M - This beer has a lighter body with higher carbonation to it

D - I was only able to drink half of the pint before giving up and asking for a new beer that I knew I'd like this beer just isn't wort it

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Photo of BrewMaster
1.68/5  rDev -46.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Appearance: Pale golden color with a slight orange/red hue to it. Thin white head made up of uneven bubbles. The head has decent retention and slowly thins to a ring around the glass.

Smell: Malty nose with a bit of spice. I swear this smells like meatballs with marinara.

Taste: Malty and bready with the flavor of leftover pizza crust. It has a harsh astringent middle that thankfully receeds to a weak aftertaste. This beer just tastes really bad. It's watery and makes me think of dirty dish water. It is hard to drink and just plain gross.

Mouthfeel: Painfully aggressive at points. Slimy and leaves a nasty aftertaste in my mouth.

Drinkability: What do you think?! This is some vile stuff. Stay away. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go a pour this down the drain.

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Photo of peterjk
1.73/5  rDev -44.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Pretty bad,

This beer poured fine with a decent head and nice straw to amber color.

The nose was unbalanced, very sharp hops without any citrus or pine notes. I could not smell the malt at all.

The beer was very carbonated which brought the sharpness of the hops forward in an unpleasant way.

The malt tasted stewed or like wet leaves, although honestly the hops were so aggressive and the malt so mild it was hard to pin down the malt flavor.

Given that the wort is coming from a 2nd cooking I was surprised by how much Anchor hopped this beer.

I know Anchor loves their hops, but still they knew this beer would have a toned down malt flavor, they should've tone back the hops also and maybe something good would have resulted.

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Photo of yemenmocha
1.74/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Only good feature of this beer is the appearance. Pours translucent amber with rocky white head that is thick and retains well.

Nose has a metallic hop quality, but overall is fairly faint.

Palate has a sour, spent grain flavor that isn't simply not very good - it's actually has a bad taste. What are they thinking? And no, the bottle is not defective.

Finish is unpleasantly bitter. Has an unwelcome sulfur component as well.

Couldn't finish this one. I hope the kitchen drain enjoys it more than I do.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
1.76/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I was excited to try Anchor's Small Beer after reading about it and the style on their website; I purchased a bottle and didn't notice how poorly it's been reviewed until far later. Still, I really wanted to like this beer - I really wanted to. I respect Anchor and have had good luck with their stuff so far.

Pours out a perfectly clear amber with a thin eggshell head continuously fed by crazy streaming bubbles. Very carbonated looking.

The smell is dominated by a metallic, slightly earthy twang that has slight background grapefruit hop notes. Smells kind of like a Yuengling that's getting stale. My hopes for this beer begin to plummet already...

Taste... Okay, well, I like to write my reviews in the order of the ranking points - appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel, then drinkability/final impressions. However, I have to skip taste and go straight to the first impression of my first sip. This is just way too fizzy. It's like soda water, and not in that nice cocktail way, but in that harsh, painfully metallic 'Whoops, I accidentally just drank my grandma's plain seltzer' kind of way.

Taste - metal, unpleasant medicine, a very slight hoppiness. This literally makes my teeth clench whenever I try to sip it. My body actually wants to stop me from drinking. I was in the mood for a beer this morning and didn't want to feel bad about myself by drinking a big tulip full of some 10% + monster at 11AM, so I thought a glass of 3% abv would do the trick. Nope. I think this beer might be my first drain cleaner.

Boo. Boo I say! I'm really dissappointed. I'm going to let the beer sit beside me for the next 30 minutes or so in the hopes that it will lose all of its carbonation and maybe gain something by warming up. If I still don't like it then, it's going down the drain. I just can't drink it.

Edit: It went down the drain. You've been warned.

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Photo of shbobdb
1.82/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Some archaic beer styles disappear for a time, only to be later revived by modern brewers. Sometimes the result is the rediscovery of a delicious, yet forgotten beer; othertimes, the result is the revival of a beer that should have remained dead. The small beer belongs to the latter catagory.

This beer is light without being crisp, watery without being clean. It is a beer that will appeal to no one. There was also a rather nasty aftertaste. A combination of resinous hops and tannis -- I was actually concerned that maybe my glass was dirty. However, the taste remains when I sip from the bottle.

Maybe this beer would be more interesting to drink if I had it with an Old Foghorn. Just to see how they are similar, where they are different. That would be an interested 'intellectual' beer drinking session, but not a tasty one. I don't remember being overly impressed with Old Foghorn either, but it's been a while since I had it.

I can say I've had a small beer, scratch one off my list, no need to ever look back.

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Photo of thistle3189
1.84/5  rDev -41.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I love the concept and the Idea of doing a small beer from the second runnings of a big beer. I would have liked to drink a old fog horn with this beer and see if I could note similarity.

A: Looks good a little darker than most pale ales.

S: Not a lot of smell, the first hint of tannin.

T: Wow, bitter and not form hops more of a grain husk taste not really very pleasant.

M: very dry with low alcohol. Not much body and little over carbonated.

D: I don't think that I would drink this beer again.

I like the other beers form this brewery and love the idea but. Not a fan of this one.

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Photo of EastBay_Nick
2/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of dertyd
2/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of jcoulighan
2/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of matjack85
2/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of Archimedes
2/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of wrightst
2/5  rDev -36.1%

Photo of TastyTaste
2.03/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Absolutely crystal clear very light copper color, with a moderate white head, that fades to almost nothing. Smell is yeasty and grassy, not much like an APA. This doesn't smell very appetising, like it's just "there". Taste is skunk malt and a lack of hops, or any satisfying flavor. This is recycled ingredients, a practice that should be reserved for BMC beers. Skip it, stick to the other Anchor beers.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
2.11/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thought I had got a bad bottle. Tried a second bottle. Same thing.

Esparagus. The one veggie that I cannot be enticed to eat with any bribe. TRhat is what this beer tastes like to me. I wince with every sip. The malts hit and are sour, not sweet. They are followed by even more sour hops. Not bitter or aromatic. Pours a nice pale copper with a thin filmy head. Aroma is at first malty, but quickly that esparagus comes through and just hits my nose like a two by four. Mouthfeel is crisp and would be hgiher if I didn't wince from the rest of this beer.

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Photo of quasimoto
2.11/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I was shocked...SHOCKED I say at this beer from anchor. I love all of their other beers and thought this would be no different. Boy was I wrong. The apperance wasn't too bad with the light yellow/orange color and large white fluffy head. The aroma was of skunky hops, and slight wet paper/ cardboard. The taste was dry malt adjuncts and nothing else. It wasnt too great. I Think this might be the bottom of the line beer for them. Which is very weird due to that fact that all of their other beers are glorious. I will have to re-drink this one again, maybe it was just a bad bottle.

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Photo of taylocd
2.13/5  rDev -31.9%
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 Grandwazoo
2.14/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

The label on the beer tells an alluring tale of a beer style no longer typically produced; and hey, it's Anchor, so why not. Well...

App -- Truly a beautiful beer. Golden with slight caramel color and perfectly clear. A nice thick head with decent lacing. This will be really good, right?....

Nose -- Sugar candy with a strong yeast overtone

Taste -- Yow! Bitter and ill-defined. Oddly light yet simultaneously extremely bitter with little other discernable flavor. Astringent aftertaste.

Feel -- Kind of assaults the tongue and leaves a bitterness with no corresponding desirable flavor

Dr - Not a particularly enjoyable quaff. I'm not familiar with this style, so perhaps it's dead-on, but not for me.

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Photo of Offa
2.15/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

This was the first Anchor beer I had that I didn't like.

It looks pretty good, amber with a medium, off-white head slowly shrinking to a foamy top and leaving some weak lace.

The aroma is pretty nice, with lots of grain, some hay and crackers, a hint of dust and yeasty dough, light earthy-piney hops, hints of sulphur and fruit.

The taste and body, though, are weak. It's rather bland, with a thin grain taste in the finish and aftertaste only and otherwise practically tasteless aside from faint, thin malty sweetness completely dominated by bland, sharp bitterness.

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Photo of mentor
2.16/5  rDev -31%
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 hero27
2.17/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours an opaque, rusty orange color with a huge frothy head & sticky lacing. Looks actually pretty decent.. it all goes swiftly downhill from there. hmmm..says it's made by recycling the mash from Old Foghorn Barleywine (which I personally enjoyed quite a bit). Macro-ish..maybe this is how they make macros, by using the leftovers of good beers. The only reason I picked it up was because I'd never seen it before, it was unique, and I figured that if it was from Anchor, it had to be pretty good. I won't be making that mistake again. Pass on this one.

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