Anchor Small Beer | Anchor Brewing Company

451 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: 451 |  Reviews: 327
Photo of hero27
2.17/5  rDev -30.4%
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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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
3.2/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

What a strange beer. Description on the bottle gives the story. At first sip it rang Macro-Pilsner all the way. It's not far from it, but strangely enough, I like it.

App. Pilsner. Technically Ale. First pour almost the entire body of beer became foam. I am sure that was not supposed to happen.

Taste: A little skunky. Not freshness information indicated.

For the first time in my BA reviewing career, this beer has drawn attention to mouthfeel and drinkability more so than any other beer I've reviewed. Tastes like a run of the mill American Pilsner, but it's not. If classified as such, Anchor should go nationwide with this one.

Should have it's own "style" category.

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Photo of kgotcher
2.73/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle, very carbonated but with a weak head.

Smell is a bit of grain but can't smell any typical malt or hops.

Taste is also weak, mouth feel is like water . Actually this reminds me of a sparkling mineral water with a bitter, minerally taste.

A bit disapointing considering the source and the little story on the label. I applaud the attempt to revive traditional brewing methods but this is just too weak for me but it does have some cracker like aftertaste. It is better than most macros but that is not saying much. Someone who like really light beers may enjoy this one. Actually it may be better as a really hot day session beer but there are better alternatives out there.

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Photo of TastyTaste
2.03/5  rDev -34.9%
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 DogFood11
2.89/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I gotta say everything leading up to the first drink was outstanding. Very cool bottle with the big fat body. Poured gently into a pilsener glass and it still formed a big chunky head that remains a solid 1-2 fingers of frothy happiness throughout comsumption.

It smells rather tired. Nothing of significance jumps out. Slight hop bitterness, and some earthiness to it, little toasty grain. The mouthfeel was decidedly thin and watered down. Caramel creeps into the picture. I came into this beer with high hopes as it looks great but is just lacking any depth which is pretty standard for this second run style.

Notes: One of the oddest beers I've tried in that it tastes really nice but it fades so quickly that it is hard to get a good flow going. At 3.3% though this was refreshing and light that when used on a hot day it becomes more desireable.

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Photo of neonbrown82
3.26/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer, produced from the second runnings of the Old Foghorn mash, was much bigger than I thought it would be in terms of malt profile.

The appearance is good. A light and hazy coppery color with a thin head that recedes to a halo despite an active carbonation. The damn thing shot out foam like a comet when I first opened it, and could explain the lack of weak head.

The smell is very English. Has some caramel and a bit of diacetyl along with an herbal spicy hop. Smells a bit biscuity. Not too pleasant in the smell department.

The taste is a bit better. It has a bit of a watery maltiness, only a subtle sweetness, but it still has a bit of a caramel taste to it. Plenty of a spicy hop flavor. Again not the most pleasant flavor, but it is drinkable at the very least.

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Photo of quasimoto
2.11/5  rDev -32.4%
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 tjd25
3.31/5  rDev +6.1%
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 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 Citadel82
3.41/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a decent session brew.

Pours a hazy copper with good carbonation and a thick rocky white head that left copius lacing on a crystal beer mug. Head retention was excellent. The head lasted well into the consumption of the brew.

The aroma was bready yeast some faint hoppines and a smidgin of malt. Maybe some traces of pine. Reminded me of my attempts at home brewing.

The taste is like a watered down Old Foghorn. Very astringent hoppiness, some citrus notes almost no balancing malts to be tasted...and I was looking for it too, Long dry finish.

Mouthfeel is thin, though it makes the brew seem light and refreshing.

Very drinkable though not remarkable. With 3.3% alcohol you are still getting lots of flavor. If this were easier to come by and less expensive I'd keep a bit of it around. Not really worth the price though. I'll pass on buying it again

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Photo of mentor
2.16/5  rDev -30.8%
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 smcolw
2.38/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Golden amber in color, clear. Very nice head, with excellent fluffy lace.

There is an off aroma to this beer, similar to refridgerator mold. Too strong to get much more than this, I detect some neutral malt. Definitely a turn off.

The flavor is marginally better because of the presence of the hops, which are floral and strong. There is a metalic taste to this beer. Drinkable, but distracting. The body is nice (like whole milk).

All in all, perhaps the worse offering from Anchor. Too bad, as they make some of the best beers in America.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
2.11/5  rDev -32.4%
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 BuckeyeNation
2.71/5  rDev -13.1%
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 yen157
3.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear, copper tinged golden in color with only a wispy head. Husky malt nose, lightly fruity (peach or apricot perhaps), and traces of hops. Bread crust flavors, husk tanin, and some hops round out the flavor profile. This is one dry beer. Body is thin as expected, and the carbonation is unfortunately high.

Nice to try this finally. I’m not sure how much it cost because I bought it with a number of other things, but I would probably buy this again and let the opened bottle stand for some time to degass.

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Photo of malthead
3.48/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Huge white head, decent clear amber color. Clean, mild smell, basically just grain and some nice floral hops. Wow, the taste is full of hops, although there's enough malt that its not too overbalanced... maybe a little citrus... another reviewer mentions a bit of copper, and that's a decent descripion. Tastes along the lines of a bitter, with the sweetness and floral hops of an APA. Mouthfeel and drinkability are decent, nothing worth writing home about, but still enjoyable.
Overall, I was surprisingly impressed with this, a very nice, remarkably flavorful and easy drinking 'little' beer.

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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 WetCoaster
4.35/5  rDev +39.4%
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 Dogbrick
3.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is certainly an interesting concoction. Pours a clear dark orange color with a medium thin eggshell-white head. Thin lacing. The aroma is light toasted malt. Light-bodied and bitter, without much flavor. A bit of earthy malt is there but the general bitterness is all the beer really has. The finish is lightly bitter and lingering. All in all, a nice throwback beer but not one I would go out of my way to have again.

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Photo of WesWes
3.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a golden color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a light, grainy, pale malt scent with some sweetness and a slightly fruity yeast aroma. The taste is average. It has a very light and watery pale/and light crystal malt flavor. It is loaded with citrus hops and a thin dry finish. The mouthfeel is decent. It is a low bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an interesting concept, although the result is less than stellar. It is too loaded with hops. It has a really bitter aftertaste. This is an average drinker. It's one and done for me.

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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 rousee
2.84/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pour is a real golden tinted amber. No head. No lace. Head retention is decent.

Smell is kinda crappy--like a stadium beer.

T- It has one variety of hops that I like. Sorry I can't identify it by name but it is similar to Warrior or the other one in the DFH 60. I think Bear republic has it in the Hop Rod Rye. This is the good pale ale hoppiness but the beer has much of the maple-syruppy effect that is common on these breweries trying to do the light/ low ABV beers to appease the fads.

MF-is somewhat lousy--maybe a little better than Sam Adams light. Just coppery-caramel stickiness that is not real pleasant.

D-I guess you could have a few of these. It is weaker than Amstel light. Sad for the Anchor people to succumb and sell out so badly--almost like IceCube's recent film.

Edit: I am pouring the remaining 6 ozs down the sink. Don't buy this one-- even Sam Adalms Light or Amstel is better.

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Photo of GClarkage
2.38/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

01/25/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in San Mateo, CA

Presentation- 22oz bottle that looks too small to contain that much beer. No dates. Poured into my 24 oz glass mug.

Appearance- On the clearer yellow side. Maybe a tad amber shaded. At first a decent sized foamy head but evaporated quickly. A wee bit of lacing ensues.

Smell- Mostly light malts and grains. Not much smell at all.

Taste- UGH! Like setzer grain water. Think of Calistoga sparkiling water with a grain background and no other taste and you have this beer.

Mouthfeel- Average to heavy carbonation.

Drinkability- Couldn't finish this beer. To bland and no taste whatsoever. Very disappointed in this one. I had lots of hope for this one, but no dice here. Don't even bother with this one.

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Photo of Billolick
3.16/5  rDev +1.3%
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 skybluewater
2.38/5  rDev -23.7%
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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Anchor Small Beer from Anchor Brewing Company
3.12 out of 5 based on 451 ratings.
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