California Lager
Anchor Brewing Company

California LagerCalifornia Lager
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American Lager
Ranked #147
Ranked #37,354
3.7 | pDev: 11.62%
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States
California LagerCalifornia Lager
Notes: In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California's first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic beer. Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and our own lager yeast, this all-malt brew is kräusened and lagered in our cellars. Its golden color, distinctive aroma, creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and smooth finish make Anchor California Lager® a delicious celebration of California’s unique brewing heritage.
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Reviews: 264 | Ratings: 1,272 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TuffBluff:
Photo of TuffBluff
4.04/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

More User Reviews:
Photo of n1ckels
5/5  rDev +35.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Famed Wine Critic Eric Asimov, published a review of Lagers (Lagers Enjoy a Renaissance) in the NY Times March 12, 2015. The top 4 blind rated lagers were Full Sail, Anchor, Brooklyn, and Atlas Brew Works (all 3 stars). After reading this, I made it my mission to try more lagers. Was not impressed with the Full Sail. I liked Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold--good but not excellent. Anchor was and still is a revelation. I've been drinking it over a year now, and its brilliance has yet to fade. In fact, I enjoy it more than ever.

This is the best lager in America. Each time I drink it, I am reminded at how simple and satisfying it is. I could drink it anytime of day, any day of the year. And I always crave it more than the last time. It is crisp. It is exactly what I want from a beer. Too often I crave a very specific beer or style, indulge, and am disappointed. And this seems to always happen with IPAs. Sculpin and Hopslam, for example, I remember them being so wonderful the first time. What happened? Now they bore me to tears.

Anchor has made a timeless, perfect beer here. When I find this beer, I always buy it and usually I buy out the store. It is that good. In some ways, it is plain. One could argue it has no soul, it's colorless like the Murakami character. It's no flavor explosion, but we must ask ourselves, is a flavor punch to our face what we want out of a classic beer? What do you want out a beer? There's no novelty here. I believe this lager will be here for decades. There's too many ales, pilsners suck, and there aren't many transcendent lagers. This is one. You of big egos may try, knowing you won't be impressed, and say so. But I guarantee you will find yourself coming back to this. And I will warn you- you will pass up other 'amazing' beers in your fridge until this is gone. Prepare to get married. It is flawless, an American masterpiece of fermentation. Introduce to anyone of any taste, and they will enjoy. Trust me.

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n1ckels from Massachusetts, Apr 23, 2016
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #80 (Sep 2013):

What we have here is some no-frills, American-brewed craft beer that pays homage to California’s first lager brewed during the gold rush of the late 1800s. Brewed with both malt and hops from California to keep with the true re-creation of this beer. Beers like this, without any crazy hopping, bugs or barrel aging, can still reach a level of greatness, and Anchor Brewing certainly has found it here.

STYLE: American Pale Lager
ABV: 4.9%

LOOK: Epic froth, clear deep golden hue

SMELL: Fresh-cut grass, leafy, mildly citric, crackers, clean, faint lemon zest

TASTE: Perfect crispness, moderate-sized body, smooth, grassy, clean, peppery, ample hop bitterness, rustic bread, mild orange pith, slightly herbal, long grainy finish, ends dry

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BeerAdvocate from Massachusetts, Mar 26, 2015
Photo of BEERchitect
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picking up what they could, westward travelers made beer from all kinds of things as they attempted to make beers traveling toward the promise of gold. Where the California Common ale is well documented, it makes sense that the more tried-and-true Lagers would have also been part of the early settler's beer drinking diet.

Like any well made lager would, Anchor's pours with a medium gold color and bright clarity. Building a creamy ivory-white foam, its head character is long lasting and proud with lacing collars as the beer fades. It's a rather fantastic looking Lager!

Grainy-sweet aromas of raw barley, supple bready sweetness and a richer bread crust rise to the nose for a crisp and pleasantly light scent. Floral hops give a slight perfume character that's similar to honey suckle. Light apple and sulfur lurk in the background and help to round the scent but careful not to make too meaningful of an impact.

To taste, the ale fares similarly- part-malt and part-grain to start, its sweetness is light and is of fresh baking bread, light dough and yeast. But its cracker-like taste reels in the slight fruitiness of honey, apples, and slim citrus. What's floral in aroma provides a soft flowery herb taste before developing a spicy and earthy bitterness that overrides the malts and ensures a crisp and clean finish.

Light bodied, the ale's elegant sweetness might imply more weight, but its bolsterous carbonation lightens the body and floats the lager over the middle to arrive in a finish of lemongrass bite, herbal warmth and pepper.

The lager is surprisingly crisp, clean and refreshing as it shows no apparent off flavors and keeps its balance well in tact. Its a fabulous beer that is sure to fare exquisitely with sushi and Cobb salad.

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BEERchitect from Kentucky, Aug 18, 2013
Photo of Premo88
4.31/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. can poured into pilsener

L: orange ... much darker than lager yellow, maybe even past gold ... a reddish gold -- beautiful; 1-inch head of foam is just a bit off white, almost beige, super sticky at the top; a tight column of bubbles is percolating hard in the brew, so much activity which is creating an almost full skin on top and a thick collar; lacing is cool -- this is a 5

S: sour grain and some citrus, orange-lemon ... hints of malt sweetness in there, just a little bread malt

T: cracker big time ... a little citrusy something, light lemon-orange, and the malt sweetness goes into the bready range, but the cracker for me is undeniable; some fantastic earthy hops are playing with the sweetness; damn is this good, very grounded with that cracker-malt foundation and the pinch of bitterness while the Cluster hops offer up a range of floral and citrus notes

F: fantastic midweight with good crispness ... again ... a 5

O: this beer is FANTASTIC! it's malty, it's hoppy, it's crisp, light, drinkable ... so much flavor, and the weird hint of orange something is a twist I've not tasted in any other brew -- it's hard for me to call it "orange" for it's a floral-orange-lemon thing bouncing off the malt that is truly unique. a beer I will buy over and over and over ...

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Premo88 from Texas, Mar 01, 2015
Photo of breadwinner
4.12/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Really well done lager by the folks at Anchor, boasting a fine fresh lager yeast nose, almost like salty ocean air, followed by a smooth malt palate, not excessively bready nor distinctive but satisfying nonetheless, and with just a touch of tangy hops. Easy drinkability, this is one of those lagers that should be part of everyone's regular rotation.

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breadwinner from California, Aug 12, 2015
Photo of ThomasMetal75
3.55/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Crystal clear, amber color. Had a thick, white, head that died to a fine rim around my Boston Lager glass. The etching produced lots of carbonation. Looks nice for a lager.

S- The beer uses an all malt recipe, and you can tell that in the smell. It's two- row pale malt to be exact. And that is the smell. You also also get a lightly roasted grain note with a touch of caramel. A bit grassy. Smells quite nice to be honest.

T- Smell and taste are identical. Sweet pale malts and a lightly roasted, gaininess. Grassy type hops, but the hop note is very light. There is a touch of spiciness from the hops too.

M- The beer is medium bodied, but on the light side of medium. It is very refreshing, clean crisp, and easy/soft on the palate. Drinkability is super high.

Overall, I highly recommend you check this beer out. If you like the Yuengling lager or even Anchor Stream beer, you'll like this beer. The major turnoff to this brew is it's $9.99 a 6 pack. I don't think for what you get it's worth that price on a consistent basis. I'll stick with Miller High Life consistently if I just want an easy drinking, cheap, but very well made American beer. But in general, this beer is worthy of your time!

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ThomasMetal75 from Massachusetts, Jan 04, 2015
Photo of steveh
3.86/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Just learned this new beer was available in my area and -- hey! One of my locals actually had it!

Trademark short Anchor bottle with its mysterious dot matrix coding.

A -- Pours a clear, deep golden color with a craggy white head that holds up well.

S -- Grainy malts and mild, spicy hops. Not a terribly big nose, but nothing offensive.

T -- Grainy malts with some underlying sweetness and good spicy bitterness in balance. The proprietary Anchor lager yeast is present in the same bready and tart way it tastes in the Steam, though maybe a little milder. The finish has a cross between the graininess and mild sweetness along with the clean, dry spiciness of the hops.

M -- Mouthfeel is soft, on the verge of syrupy, to crisp in the finish with a light to medium light body.

O -- I'd like to think this is what a true pre-prohibition beer tasted like, though I have the feeling the hop-rate is a little bigger in this one. Nonetheless, this is a great tasting beer that's perfect for quaffing every day. Has a good, though mild malt character and a good amount of hop bitterness to be paid attention. A damn fine take that ought to make some macro drinkers (old or nuveau) take note.

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steveh from Illinois, Jun 07, 2013
Photo of mmmbeer89
2.55/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

It's not bad on first drink but it has a coppery aftertaste which isn't very pleasant and it's not great tasting anyway. A middle of the road forgetable beer.

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mmmbeer89 from New Mexico, Feb 25, 2016
Photo of Shanex
4.49/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this American pale Lager from Anchor into a teku glass.

Good! I was reminded of the typical aroma from Anchor and could recognize it in a blind taste.

This brewery delivers, you can safely purchase it... CHEERS!

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Shanex from France, Oct 14, 2016
Photo of JRed
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

Transparent wheat field color with bubbly white head that fades. Aroma of fresh grains, cereal, mild honey. Tastes crisp: cereal, fresh grains, honey, cereal sweetness, and dry. Light in body with light carbonation. Crisp and mildly sweet.

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JRed from New Jersey, Nov 23, 2014
Photo of DrewSnyc667
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

DrewSnyc667 from Massachusetts, Mar 12, 2017
Photo of Jame515
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Jame515 from Texas, Sep 12, 2013
Photo of JDeming
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%

JDeming from Maryland, Jun 30, 2014
Photo of SGT_Cookie
3.84/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

SGT_Cookie from South Carolina, Feb 29, 2016
Photo of OtherShoe2
3.79/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear medium orange with a nice foamy white head that lasts and sticks to the glass.

Pale malt nose, some hop leaf, some mineral.

Nice malt profile up front. Dries out nicely with some malt and then some decent clean bitterness. Long bitter finish.

Medium Body, good carbonation.

Nice structure with this beer. Nothing fancy, but a nice clean lager. A little on the bitter side, and that can work well with food. These guys found a nice summer beer here.

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OtherShoe2 from Massachusetts, Jun 22, 2013
Photo of marioGTR
3.52/5  rDev -4.9%

marioGTR from Maryland, Sep 28, 2014
Photo of Roguer
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

Roguer from Georgia, Sep 21, 2013
Photo of senselessinsanity
4/5  rDev +8.1%

Photo of windowside
4.05/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

windowside from Germany, Feb 02, 2016
Photo of Hatzilla
4/5  rDev +8.1%

Hatzilla from California, Jun 02, 2013
Photo of scratch69
3.66/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured a bottle into a pilsner glass.

Appearance- Clear golden color with a fingers worth of head. Fair amount of lacing.

Smell- Grain and hay aromas with a hint of floral hops.

Taste- Bready malt and hay-like flavors with a slight herbal hop finish.

Mouthfeel- Light bodied and smooth with an average amount of carbonation.

Overall- A tasty and easy drinking lager.

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scratch69 from Missouri, Jun 09, 2013
Photo of TeamMathis
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Out of a can. I really enjoy this. It has a very enjoyable bready and honey taste. Excellent for a summer drink or a lunch drink. Light, but quite flavorful. I'd get it again.

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TeamMathis from West Virginia, Dec 26, 2015
Photo of detgfrsh
3.71/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a 12oz bottle. Light orange with a finger of white foam. Straw and yeast smell. Medium feel. Tastes of grass, citrus, and a touch of spice. Very good for the style.

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Photo of Rollmeaway2loadout
4.09/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

California Lager from Anchor Brewing Company
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 1272 ratings