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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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 451 |  Reviews: 327
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.

 571 characters

Photo of watchnerd
3.49/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big bowling pin bomber bottle, obtained from City Beer in San Francisco.

I think this beer is miscategorized and to compare it to specimens in the American Pale Ale category is to misunderstand it. It's an old world bitter.

Unbelievable head, little in the way of aroma, and a thin mouthfeel and a pure bitter taste, all hops and little malt, leads to a unique experience. Most probably won't like it, but if you want a refreshing, chuggable bitter that isn't going to get you too drunk or weigh you down, this is a nice beer. Very thirst quenching.

But, be warned, it's a rare style, and probably won't fit what you're expecting. There's not much yeast, no malt, just hops, color, and water.

 695 characters

Photo of teamizm
3.03/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fairly unbalanced ale that is pretty watery. Light carbonation with a bitter aftertaste that kind of sits in the back of your throat for a few seconds. While only 3.30%, its decent if you want a pint without feeling the alcohol. Not a bad warm weather session ale, but definitely nothing I would go out of my way for.

 317 characters

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

1 pint 6oz bottle from a liquor store in Nashua, NH. Pours a crystal-clear golden body with nearly an inch of off-white head that slowly dissipates leaving some impressive lacing. Smells malty, fruity, with caramel and brown sugar notes, and a strong citrussy hop presence. Tastes grainy with caramel and citrus hops. Tastes a little watery, which matches the aqueous refreshing mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Very drinkable and refreshing. Flavor (other than the hop presence) reminds me more of an American blonde or pale wheat maybe, rather than an APA or bitter. Still, reasonably priced (3.50$ per bottle) and is great for a hot summer day like today.

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Photo of scottg
2.84/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear orange/gold flavor with a one finger creamy tan head with solid retention and some lacing. Toasted malt, toffe and light lemon hop aromas. Toffee, sweet malt, lemon and tea hop flavors with a bitter aftertaste. Light carbonation, medium body with a creamy mouthfeel. The malt and hops are both prevalent but don't mesh well together, not properly balanced.

 370 characters

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.

 508 characters

Photo of plaid75
3.41/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a slightly hazy light copper hue with a one and a half finger foamy white head. There was good retention and decent lacing.

The smell featured a light malt and grassy hop.

The taste consisted of an upfront spicy hop that was slightly tempered by a light grainy malt.

The mouthfeel was toward the lighter side of the style.

Overall a light and refreshing ale that lacks a real depth in flavor. Pretty cool that this is essentially Old Foghorn light.

 459 characters

Photo of gpogo
3.36/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Mostly clear golden yellow with large white head with decent retention.

A- Grainy malt aroma.

T- Initially it tasted like an incredibly watered down beer. Then I started to notice the very slight malt taste and how it finishes so crisp. I also noticed how bitter it was, not overly bitter, but in a way that contributes to that crisp flavor.

M- Very light body with moderate to high carbonation.

D- This is the first Small Beer I have ever had, the label compares it to a light bitter. I'm glad Anchor is making such a historical brew available. At 3.3% this is definitely a sessionable beer, or maybe even a breakfast beer. Not as packed with flavor or as complex as other styles, but it does have a crisp refreshing feel to it. I recommend everyone try it at least once and preferbly with it's first running brother Old Foghorn.

 837 characters

Photo of taeagan
2.9/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I had been looking for this beer here on the east coast for a while and was excited to try it. Deep gold to light amber in color. Brilliant clarity. Thin white head. Great bready malt aromas and a surprisingly significant earthy/spicy hop presence. Hops really dominate the malt in flavor. Very high bitterness and thin mouthfeel. I'd like a greater malt balance. Too dry, thin, bitter, and hoppy for me.

 404 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review based on notes

Pours an effervescent honey color with 1 finger of pearl white head. Minimal lacing & head retention

S: Grassy & lemony hops

T: Lemony, grassy & grainy up front. Astringency kicks in as this warms. Finishes grainy with a bit of grapefruit

MF: Light bodied, astringent & with minimal carbonation

Nice homage to old brewing traditions, but I'll never buy this again unless there is almost zero choice in beer, was drinkable enough, but devoid of flavors I seek

 487 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
2.99/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle poured into my Russian River pint glass. The bottle says it's a bitter so i'm going to review it accordingly

A: Amber with a frothy white head. Crystal clear.

S: Bready with a very thin malt presence. Mild earthy hop note. Not much going on.

T: Bitter, almost in a tannin way. Mild malt note comes through. Not much going on apart from the breadiness and the mild bitterness

M: Overcarbonated for the style with a nice dry finish

D: I can easily drink a lot of this but i doubt i will

 501 characters

Photo of BWMKappaSig
3.53/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

 263 characters

Photo of BretSikkink
3.16/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Amber orange color, hints of gold highlights. White head jumps up about two fingers full, and sticks like there's no tomorrow.

Aroma is very heavy on the floral hopping, also quite citric and fresh, but big on the floral yeasties. Malt side runs to grainy, malt husk aromas; pale, sweet, and rather weak.

Clearly overloaded on the hops, there's very little balance, and the overall mouthfeel is a watery and thin. Finish is dry and full of tannins, while the citric hops don't really add that much to the beer.

Interesting brewing technique. It's like an American light lager with a huge amount of bitterness, so in that light it's not an uninteresting experience. I'm glad I didn't pay much for it.

 705 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
3.53/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

 756 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.38/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Apperance: Pours a clear, light coppery body with a foamy, white head.

Smell: Doughy barley aroma with a bit of citrus and spice. Starts smelling of broth after awhile, so much so that I order some Chinese delivery!

Taste: Mild malt character, with only some light malted barley and a taste of yeasty dough sweetened with one lonely drop of honey. Spicy, citrusy hop flavor with a medium bitterness. Dry finish is a touch soapy with a lingering bitterness. There's an astringency that builds up on the palate along the way.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium, somewhat lively carbonation.

Drinkability: You won't get anything that packs a punch at 3.30%, but it sure has alot of heart, that's for damn sure.

 708 characters

Photo of beermebeerman
3.77/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden, leaves a creamy white head which quickly dissappears to a thin lacing. Coudn't smell a whole lot, but this was probably partially due to being slightly stuffed up. Taste was actually really good! I read some reviews that said it was slightly skunky? I did taste a slight sourness but this is within the guidelines for this style and way less than most others I have tried in this style. The hops come through just as the malt dies off, leaving a crisp, clean flavor that isn't boring. Mouthfeel is good. (I always have a hard time explaining this).

Overall, highly drinkable. I really don't know why so many people aren't bigger on this. A great session beer, at 3.3% You could drink a couple and still be ready for more. I'd definately buy another!

 765 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
2.18/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

At first I was interested in this beer after I saw it at BEVMO.
Poured a light gold color. Head is small. 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 3.3 ABV as well. Not a very good effort from Anchor. Mouthfeel is thin. Finish is blsnd. Aftertaste is bitter. tasted like a macrobrew all the way. Schlitz even!

 516 characters

Photo of BeerTruth
3.01/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

From the website:

"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. Technically, both beers are "ales" because they are made with top-fermenting yeast."

22 oz. teardrop bottle poured into a nonic.

Pours a copper orange with a foggy one finger off white head that dies down to just about nothing. Leaves a nice trail of webbing on the sides of the glass. Smell is very light and sweet. Faint citrus hops and caramel malt tickle the nose. Some honey and lemongrass scent as well. Taste is a bit metallic with floral and grassy notes. Midway through some earthy hops graze the tongue. Aftertaste is a bit dry with a yeast and bread like flavor. Mouthfeel is light with a slick feel. Carbonation is very lively with this one. For being so low in abv., I would think this would have a higher drinkability to it. Unfortunately it wasn't that much of a session beer to me. I find putting down a ST Hop Sun to be much easier. Interesting style, would like to try more beers that are made this way.

 1,296 characters

Photo of 1759Girl
3.44/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 4

This review is in my notes from almost a month ago, so bear with my memory and chicken-scratch-translation...
And note that the FABULOUS day in Delores Park make have made this beer taste better than it was... but nonetheless, here goes:
A>Light amber, lively, with a little head and some lacing... very standard looking for an Am Pale.
S> grasses, hops
T>lagery start that turned to a nicer hoppier bitter finish.
M>too bubbly.
D>nice nose, easy to drink.

 472 characters

Photo of daledeee
2.41/5  rDev -23%
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.

 691 characters

Photo of JEdmund
2.61/5  rDev -16.6%
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 williamherbert
3.52/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bright darkish yellow color. Lots of uprising carbonation. Nice, lasting white and foamy head. Looks clear and thirst-quenching.

Smell of a nice, all-malt lager. Mild barley malt. Pleasant. A little mild (nice) corn syrup sweetness.

Nice typically light all-malt lager flavor. Malt slightly pale. Very typical. Decent but doesn't stand out.

A tad fizzy; the texture of a Belgian but none of the spicy bite. Drinkable but average. Not bad. Really just a normal lager.

 469 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
2.31/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a short off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is a little pungent and contains caramelized malt and some pale hops.

T: The taste is malty with flavors of caramel and some citrus. There's a mild and pale hops presence that really doesn't seem to compliment everything very well. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, very is clean.

D: Not very tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, very mild kick, not the best representation of style, this is simply not a beer that I would want to drink again.

 691 characters

Photo of JDV
3.42/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brewery in S.F. Not their best beer, but for the style and a mere 110 calories per serving, this is basically a light beer, and the best one I've had as far as that goes. Smell of some sweetness and whole grain. Taste is definitely slightly light, but similar to the smell. Light, but still fairly flavorful for what it is. A great lighter drinkable beer.

 369 characters

Photo of thejewthatbrews
4.17/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.
A: Deep golden, honey colored, with a white bubbly head and nice, although thin, lacing. Head retention was minimal.
S: Very balanced. A little more toward the malt side, after the pour, once the head died down a bit.
T: Again, balanced. Slight malt upfront, then a little hops. Hops in the finish, with a mildly malty aftertaste.
M: Pretty light, but not like water or anything. Light enough that you don't feel the need to drink sparingly.
D: Highly drinkable, due to a very balanced, mild flavor, and light mouthfeel.

Overall, in my opinion, a great beer. Balanced all around, and extremely drinkablel. Nothing special, but what would you expect from the second runnings of a mash? Will I buy it again? Definately. It's a beer I don't have to convince myself I like.

 810 characters

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