Anchor Small Beer | Anchor Brewing Company

450 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 450 |  Reviews: 326
Photo of daledeee
2.41/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I bought this wondering what they meant by small beer. I thought it was small batches of strong beer? Then I find out it is like rebrewed beer ingredients.

This beer poured with a medium head and some lace sticks behind. It is a dark clear goldish brown.

The nose is hard to describe.

Taste is like boiled down something but not good. Malt? Somewhat bitter, but doesn't taste like most hops.

This beer has a pretty dry finish and the aftertaste is not very appealing to me. May be a personal thing, but I consider myself pretty open minded. OK, so we are preserving ingredients by brewing beer like this. Not my cup of tea, I mean beer. Sorry got confused; this tastes more like tea.

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Photo of bobhits
2.42/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Light and pale in color. A huge amount of carbonation almost explosive in how it bubbles up. This reminds me almost of Duvel.

S The nose of hops without much to balance them. A huge sour funky like hop nature that I am struggling to place.

T so so thin. The malt isn't strong and sweet, it's nearly gone. A lot of citrus hops but no real flavors because there isn't anything mixing with this. This is a wonderful summer thirst quencher. The flavor is pretty damn lacking and the hops aren't going to win too many over. I still think it's better than fog horn and even in this bomber it's way cheaper.

D easy to drink, extremely light, and thirst quenching.

M Carbonated and really thin.

I'm not sure why this is sold in this bomber. It's interesting and certainly something new to me.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
2.43/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

3.30% alcohol? Did I know that when I bought it? After reading the idea behind the beer I am impressed with the concept...

A: Pours like a darker version of an American domestic. Head is just a shade beige than actual white. Full of medium sized bubbles, the head actually stopped dropping around the 1/2 inch mark. This head appears to be along for the ride.

S: Fruity, bubblegum, carrots and raw peanuts.

T: First impression - what water would taste like if you soaked corn in it. It begins sort of soapy with very minor malt sweetness. From there a low key butterness mingles but is overshadowed by...the water...I guess. There is a visible bitterness in the aftertaste which is surprising for such a weak beer.

M: Light bodied and frizzy.

D: Well, the idea was better then the actual results. Frankly I'm surprised they bottled this. I would have liked this beer to have succeeded, its a really cool concept.

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Photo of mactrail
2.44/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Coors Light with an overdose of hops.

Very light in every way except slight amber hint to the color. No apparent malt in the first taste, and if there is any odor it is lost on me. Hops are surprisingly intense. It's like an IPA seriously watered down. Very bitter with unpleasant aftertaste like cheap toothpaste.

If this were a non-alcoholic beer, I'd give it some applause. But it's not anything like a creditable English Mild either. Served in what appears to be a soda-fountain fluted glass at the Small Bar in San Diego. Served icy cold, which didn't seem to make it any more palatable.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
2.45/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. (something that looks like a backwards ?)JP stamped on the back label.

A - Tons of carbonation streams up from the nucleation point to a puffy off-white head of almost three-fingers. Good retention and clumpy lace above a totally clear golden yellow beer.

S - Unfortunately I don't think a Euro-style lager skunk smells is supposed to be present in this beer so it could be light-struck but otherwise I get a low American hop nose with a very small bit of maltiness. Rather shy nose.

T - Wow. This is very unusual. Lots of grassy, grainy, husky flavor with an incredibly dry finish. Lots of rice too. The hops are floral and herbal but light in presence.

M - Light-bodied and very crisp from abounding carbonation, Small Beer has an incredibly dry finish and a very low hop bitterness.

D - I'm heading to the brewery in a month-and-a-half so I'd love to get a fresh bottle of this. Right now though it's not going over so well.

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Photo of markyd
2.46/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Please put this in a keg and serve it to college students, this beer is not worth the 6 bucks unless you are drinking several pints. Bitter after taste and flavorless, great mouth feel, very carbonated just like all the other American light beers. Good clear color almost like water...

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.46/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A - Pours a light orange opaque color with less than an inch head that fades to a small cap. Decent lacing is present as beer is drunk.

S - All I could smell out of this beer was a metallic grainy odor.

T - Tastes like it smells. Weird bitterness that is almost medicinal and metallic at the same time.

M - To me this was a very watery and somewhat flat beer.

D - Not too good. I have been wanting to try this one for some time and I finally picked up a bottle, but I don't think that I will ever buy this again. It is just too weak and medicinal tasting to me.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
2.49/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Pours a pretty, clear bright orange with a good off-white head. Nice clarity and bubbles rising.

I know this brew doesn't move on the shelves/cooler. I cracked it and got some skunk. I thought it was bad handling, but found that as the beer settled in the glass, there is a boiled grain, overcooked vegetable and sour edge to the smell that could lead to this aroma. So I was kinda wrong. Funny enough, it also smells bitter. As this warms, the scent changes. A dried grass aroma? Sour mash? Dried seaweed? I can't put my finger on it.

Why don't they market this as "a big bottle of bitter watery beer," because that is what it is. Bitter first, then some light, watered down boiled grain, slight tartness pushed aside by the bitter again, some light toasted malt, long bitter finish.

Lighter bodied, but something there just the same. I am shocked by how the texture of this beer kinda works.
Overall, WTF were these guys thinking? Recycle your bottles, not your mash. The true dog of all of the beers these guys produce. Not good with food. Not good on its own. But, because they put it in a big bottle (presumably to get rid of this shit), you get alot of it! What a value. It actually smells worse than it tastes. This is not viciously bad flavored garbage beer, but this is not something you would share with friends. I am highly disappointed that this brewer would put something out like this.

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Photo of JmBrkr
2.5/5  rDev -19.9%

Photo of jimmah120
2.5/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bottle w/ no date

A: Translucent dark gold color with a great pillowy head, and spotty lacing. Lots of carbonation bubbles.

S: Not a lot to report here: a slight 'barnyard' smell and a tiny bit of hop presence. Smells like flavored water.

T/M: Tastes like water up front, definitely not a plus. It's like a watered down steam beer. A little malt, lemon zest, and grass. Delivers in the bitter category. Not full flavored, but not undrinkable. Mouthfeel is very watery, carbonation OK.

O: Not something I would seek out again.

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Photo of strongaf
2.5/5  rDev -19.9%

Photo of SLeffler27
2.5/5  rDev -19.9%

Photo of GRG1313
2.55/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark honey/amber with a nice pillowy and thick white head. Nose of cooked pineapple and malt and nice fruit.

Mouthfeel is thin and watery. No body; no character and no real flavor, other than thin, weak and short hops, with a bit of an offensive "green grass" flavor. Actually has a medium finish of old grapefruit skin, not very pleasant. No need to try this one again.

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Photo of deereless
2.57/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A: A touch on the side of opaque, some dull peach colors, serious foam over upon opening the bottle - 2.50, S: Lots of grain and meek bready sweetness, some mild citrus - 3.25, T: A little on the side of flaccid, I suppose the history of what a 'small beer' is explains it, though I like the concept of a small beer I can't say I care for the weak flavor profile, noticeable grain husks and hop bite, a little astringency, a touch tart - 2.50, M: Very light and watery - 2.00, D: Too much of the good from the grains is pulled out in the first running to leave much for this beer, not one I'd return to - 2.50

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Photo of Boto
2.58/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle: This one pours a slightly darker golden color. It is crystal clear with a small, slightly fizzy head that drops off quickly. The aroma kind of smells like a mass produced lager. It has some weak hints of maltiness and some floral hops. The taste is slightly tart and bitter, with a light malt body. No better than a macro at a higher price. No more for me!

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Photo of bboven
2.58/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Medium honey color, a bit cloudy with no head to speak of.

Smell is all malt. Mostly two-row, but a tiny bit of roast. Smells stale, really.

Thin and watery, a little malt and an unpleasant bitter aftertaste.

Well carbonated, doesn't stick to the tongue at all.

Eh. Valiant effort, but there are better small/session beers to be had. It's price is also right up there with much tastier bombers, so...

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Photo of burnheartsMKE
2.58/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I think Anchor makes great beers, I really do, unfortunately this is not one of them.

Smells funky like hot garbage. Big sea-foam head that just sits there quietly like it’s waiting for some big wave to come crashing down and help it move on…

Taste is out-of-wack bitterness. If you watered down a proper wort, added some bug-spray and then carbonated it - it would probably have the same flavor profile as this small beer.

Yuck, I’m sorry, but 22 oz was way too much and I ended up just giving it away (and I’m not quite sure the recipient finished it either…)

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Photo of wknight167
2.59/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Apearance - Pours a light golden amber with a 2 finger cloud like head with good retention and lacing.

Nose- Grainy malt with the faintest hint of hops.

Palate- Grainy, dry and slightly tannic, for lack of a better word. Citrus hops are barely present, but there is a decent bitterness level.

Mouthfeel- Active, medium carbonation and medium-thin body.

Drinkability- I have no desire for another.

Overall- An interesting idea, but not so interesting a beer.

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Photo of BigHead
2.59/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I was not sure what to expect from this, I had bad thoughts, and unfortunately, the thoughts rang true (at least for me). It is an incredibly clear beer with a stark white head, very pretty. But then I went in for the smell and it smelled like a watered down beer. A light hint of hops but smelled similar to a Bud. The flavor was bitter and lacked in intensity and complexity. I just found it not that pleasurable of beer, too watered down and bitter to be a drink-a-lotty brew.

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Photo of bditty187
2.61/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Largely clear, tawny-gold in hue, there are a few tiny bubbles dancing towards the small white head. At the apex the head was a modest ¼ inch in height. It slipped to a very thin collar. Subsequent lacing was spotty and it didn’t cling well. The nose doesn’t say much, at first. There is a trace of malt, kind of toasty, somewhat sweet and caramely. I get a weak suggestion of piney hops, way in the back. I’ve never had a Small Beer before so I can’t really make assumptions on the bouquet. I believe Anchor “dry-hops” this one, right? Once this beer warmed up the nose fell apart and a foul aroma of old gym socks emerged. Even before this aspect developed the nose was not inviting, mainly because it was boring. Add in the funk and, well, I’m not digging it. Well, the palate isn’t any more exciting. I wasn’t expecting it to be. There is a louder hoppy influence, pine mainly. The malt doesn’t offer much taste. There is some sweetness but it is too quite to be important. I don’t like the veggie taste or the “wet” cheese taste. This only grew with warmth. Thankfully the aftertaste is dully cedary and pine-like. The palate is dry. On the whole, my first Small Beer might be my last. It is less flavorful than I was expecting plus some of the qualities on the tongue were not very pleasant. Light in body, as anticipated, the carbonation is light but fitting for the construction of the beer. I was hopping I’d like this, I really wanted to try it and I was pleased to buy it in Milwaukee, WI. But I just don’t like it… unimpressive, even in the realm of expectations. Still it is cool somebody is making this old school beer. Thanks Anchor but I’ll stick with Old Foghorn.

It might be decent, super fresh.

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Photo of JEdmund
2.61/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Apricot, clear, minimal white head

A little sour, reminding me of a macro-brew like Budweiser; nothing too appetizing and definitely nothing bold or distinct

Taste & Mouthfeel
Well, it's definitely small; upfront malt/bitterness, but it quickly disappears, leaving little aftertaste and a clean, crisp finish; the flavor that I do taste is so light, like 'light' good beer; it's weird, as I've never had a beer like this

Was worth the $3 to try it, but not something I'd ever buy again; a neat, old idea, but doesn't exactly work well with my standards of what I want in a beer

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Photo of Sycodrummer
2.61/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured from the brown "bowling pin" bomber into a nonic pint the beer was a light brown/copper color with one finger of white foamy head. Lots of carbonation bubbles streamed up the glass and stuck to the sides. Slight lacing, nothing appreciable.

The nose has a faint malty aroma with some bread crumb like scents and a slight caramel aroma. Every so slightly flowery, and some green apple too.

The taste has a muted malt base. It is actually rather bland with a fizzy finish that lack a lot of flavor complexity. The taste, like its name, is rather small, with little coming through and a bland bready finish.

Light on the palate and very highly carbonated.

This was not an enjoyable offering. The beer really lacked many decernable flavors and was on the whole rather bland. It almost seemed like a flavorfull beer that someone sucked the life out of.

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Photo of Osiris9588
2.63/5  rDev -15.7%
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 bluejacket74
2.64/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 ounce bottle. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours a dark gold color with an inch frothy white head. Both head retention and lacing are good. Aroma is grassy hops and some bready malt. The aroma is very light overall. Taste is just like the aroma, but also has a lingering bitter finish. Unfortunately it's not a good type of bitter taste, there seems to be something a bit off about it. Mouthfeel/body is light, and it's also crisp and a bit dry. Drinkability isn't great, I can finish this bottle but I wouldn't want any more than that. Not impressed with this one, and I won't buy this again anytime soon. But it was still nice to try it anyway.

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Photo of grover37
2.65/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance (4): Very clear, light gold. A finger of head settles to a thick layer. Very good looking beer. Not much lacing though.

Smell (4): Very bready and biscuit malts. A light floral spicinesss accompanies this. Smells a bit like a hoppy Czech Pils.

Taste (1.5): Slight spicy hops up front. Somewhat unpleasant taste in the middle in finish like stale piney hops. Not a whole lot of character and very watery. Not surprising for just over 3%. It's beginning to grow on me a little bit but I can't get over that mineraly, unpleasant flavor.

Mouthfeel (2.5): Watery but smooth. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability (3): Easy to drink but I'm not sure I'd want another one.

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