Anchor California Lager | Anchor Brewing Company

very good
229 Reviews
Anchor California LagerAnchor California Lager

Brewed by:
Anchor Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by esdeebrew on 02-15-2013

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Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 1,162
Photo of n1ckels
5/5  rDev +33.3%
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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Photo of ZionNation
5/5  rDev +33.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am someone who loves all types of beers and have been into craft beer for decades. in general I believe that lager beers don't get the respect they deserve where some of the best beers on planet earth are lagers, dark lagers, light lagers, bocks, doube bocks, pilsners, etc. etc. anyway, I love a hoppy pilsner and have tried them all but this Anchor Lager, not exactly a pilsner, but simply the best hoppy lager I have ever tried. this beats Victory or Firestone Walker by a mile. I can't get enough of this beer. I have gone through like three cases and the beer stores in AZ are running out. please brew more and ship to Arizona.

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Photo of Straycorn
4.8/5  rDev +28%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

It's been awhile since I consumed a lager... I've been on quite an IPA and stout/porter kick for months. Don't miss this one. It's awesome all the way around. Hits all the best lager notes and then some!

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Photo of mjurney
4.66/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Golden color, clear. Lots of carbonation. Thick rocky head.

Sweet pale malts, biscuity, some spicy-floral hops.

Sweet pale malts, bready, biscuity, faint honey. Hop bitterness is moderate, mostly spicy-floral. Finish is very crisp, a little dry. Medium bodied, crisp, refreshing, super drinkable.

Well made lager!!

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Photo of CJanders
4.65/5  rDev +24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is the ultimate summer pleaser. Not too light like a European lager but not to heavy like the Lagunitas Pils, Anchor's California Lager is smooth, refreshing AND flavorful. Lagunitas and the Europeans make that and either or proposition.

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Photo of Trilogy31
4.51/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

In terms of an APL how can this not be close to perfect for the style? Beautiful old gold sunset with the slightest crimson hue. Beautiful clarity with a billowy cap of eggshell foam, sticky cobwebs all over as i drink this one down. Nose brings cereal, cornflakes, some graham as well as a light floral/herbaceous character to go along with a light, pleasant bitterness. Would i rate it as high compared to my fav stouts and ipas? No way but i am rating it to style and it deserves the high marks - expertly crafted and extremely drinkable.

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Photo of crob3888
4.5/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear golden hue with a small head. Smells of grain and faint lemon zest, plus grain and cracker and even biscuit. Taste is of crackers and sweet biscuit, with floral hops and a grain finish, with hints of orange and lemon zest. Overall an excellent lager. Well done.

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Photo of BaronRogue
4.5/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pure golden hue with fizzy white head and fairly decent retention.

Smells a little chalky, with a nice grassy hop tang on top, you can tell you're in for a treat as soon as you open the bottle.

Tastes as though you put a small handful of milled two-row into your mouth, with a slight hop bite and crisp carbonation. Flawless as far as lagers go. Unmistakable ingredients, excellent for this style.

Mouthfeel goes right in hand with the taste... refreshing and crisp.

This is pretty much what I'll be comparing future American lagers to, for the foreseeable future.

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Photo of JakeScully
4.49/5  rDev +19.7%
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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Photo of JamesQuaff
4.48/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

Pours a deep golden color with a bit of an orange-copper cast. Head is a dense, foamy 2 finger cap of white that has good retention and leaves a thick coating of lacing. Lots of bubble action. Excellent looking pale lager.

A generous aroma for the style. Nice hop notes, fresh baked bread, a bit of funky umami. Very agreeable.

Also a generous dose of flavor for the style. Slightly sweet malts, generous hop bite, long crackery finish with the hop bitterness holding on right along with it. Great balance. Very tasty.

Crisp and light bodied, but not thin or watery. Carbonation doesn't have as much bite as the bubble show led me to expect. Eminently drinkable.

Overall this is an excellent example of an all-malt American pale lager, maybe one of the best I've had. Price is a tad steep for what it is, but it delivers a level of flavor and aroma that few others I've tried within the style can match. I've been experiencing a bit of a personal DIPA backlash recently, having had a few examples that just did not impress. Simplicity, balance and drinkability have been doing it for me more and more lately. This beer will be making appearances in my fridge this summer for sure.

EDIT 6/10/14 - I've been spending a lot more time with this beer and have upped my ratings a bit. I now consider this my personal favorite lager produced in the US. It possesses all the cleanliness, crispness and breadth/depth of flavor of the finest German lagers but is quintessentially 100% American. I will usually have 6 or 8 different brands and styles of craft beer in my fridge, all great brews, but when the CA Lager is amongst them, I almost always find myself instinctively reaching for just another one of them until they're gone. An absolute gem of a lager that stands up to anything produced in the world today.

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Photo of thebrood1987
4.47/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent look and lacing on this one. Sharp lemony hops and grain on the smell but the taste is even better! So smooth and well made. You get the sharp hops all the way through with a bready biscuit malt with a minimal grainyness comes through in the middle of the taste. Right up there with Boston Lager as my favorite lager!

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Photo of maedhros09
4.45/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look: Clear gold with abundant white head that retains well and leaves lots of lacing
Smell: floral and grassy
Taste: Lightly sweet floral maltiness with an assertive grassy hops finish. Great balance.
Feel: Light and nicely carbonated

Overall: This is a lager worthy of the Anchor name. For me it is an ideally balanced, with just a bit of sweetness but a nice dry bitter hops finish. This is basically what I look for in a light lager.

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Photo of kd45-music
4.41/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I had never drank this Anchor brand before, but, I must say, I was impressed. It's so much tastier than the macro lagers. I particularly enjoy the bite at the end of a mouthful. Not too bitter, but just enough to remind you this is a beer to enjoy. It holds its head and carbonation fairly long, and like all beers, it is much better when poured into a glass. I hope to find this beer in a bottle next time instead of a can. I'll bet it's even tastier.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.36/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into SA perfect pint.

A: Pours clear deep golden with a fluffy and soft three finger head that stuck around forever before fading into rocky film that left chunky lace down the glass.
S: Spicy, earthy and leafy hops mixed with lager yeast and light malt. Clean and crackery overall.
T: Spice, herbal, earthy and leafy up front, yeasty, with a unexpected sweet finish and an almost fruity aftertase. Clean bitterness, doughy malt, fruit nectar like sweetness and caramel also come through. Very flavorful.
M: Crisp, clean and refreshing lager. Medium-light body, soft and fluffy carb.
O: A solidly bitter and very flavorful light lager. I could see myself buying this to always have a refreshing beer on hand.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.36/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light golden and very clear. Thin bubbly head and good lacing. Lots of aroma; malty sweetness with a buttery biscuit feel, a nice floral and perfume feel, yeast, hops and spices. As the drink warms, a fruity and honey essence takes over. Taste also has a lot to offer; toasted malts, bready, herbal and peppery. A hint of citric sourness. The hops and yeast balance it out and give a slightly dry bitter finish. Medium light mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Crisp, refreshing and extremely drinkable.
I really liked this one. A lager lots of flavor and complexity.

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Photo of Luigi
4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a clear golden color with a creamy white head that raised right to the top of the glass with out pouring over it. There is plenty of sticky lacing around the glass and the head retains as a thin blanket on top. Head retains till the last sip.

The aroma is a full of grassy hop with a some pine hints. The two row malt backs up the hop with a soft bread hints. Overall a very clean aroma.

The first thing to hit the palate is the grassy/ mild pine like hops. Hints of citrus lingers as well. But, not like American pale ale. The hops are soft and well balanced with the mild sweetness from the barley. Finishes dry and crisp with some hop bitterness lingering on the the tongue.

Medium/light bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation and finishes very clean. Perfectly balanced flavor and refreshing. This could be one of top all malt American pale lagers I have had ever tasted. If you see it buy it!

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Photo of fx20736
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bought a 6 pack from Beers of the World on 11/22/13.

Appearance: Old Gold with 2 fingers of soft white foam.

Aroma: a fragrant bouquet of Pilsnerish malt aznd Noble Hops.

Mouthfeel: creamy and smooth.

Taste: upfront crackery malt, a soft touch of floral hoppiness and an unexpected kiss of orchard fruit sweetness.

Notes: Never had a pale lager like this before, it has elements of a Pilsner and Helles. This is a unique and delicious beer.

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Photo of Premo88
4.31/5  rDev +14.9%
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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Photo of Brad007
4.31/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright gold with a huge head into my glass. How else to describe it? I haven't tried this beer yet.

Sweet and crisp with a great dose of Cluster hops. Also, my nose thinks that it's very dry.

Dry with sweet, grainy malt upfront and the hop bite somewhere toward the back. "Fluffy"

Rich, buttery finish accentuates this fine example of a lager.

I'm really impressed with this lager. Any drier and it would (vaguely) resemble that Carling Dry I had a few weeks back.

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Photo of drpimento
4.31/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Has a huge, thick head that slowly settles and some lace with a clear amber color. Aroma is fresh pale lager beer. Flavor is a nice, balanced bittersweet with just right tang. Body is excellent. Extremely drinkable brew. I really like this!

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Photo of Theheroguy
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

After my first round of tasting this lager I was sure it had at least three kinds of hops. It's nicely bittered, has an herbal leafy hop flavor, and it has a very pleasant and gentle hoppy aroma. To my surprise I learned that in fact this lager is only brewed with cluster hops. This beer has given me a greater appreciation for the complexity and versatility of that strain. I'll be using more of it in my home brews in the future. I highly recommend this lager I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Photo of fmccormi
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Straight pour from a 12oz can to a fat, stubby tulip; no canning or freshness date visible on the can itself, but I’m optimistic that this isn’t very old. Sold as a single at Whole Foods, the date of the UPC code was 6/14, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that it came into the store’s stock a couple of weeks after canning.

Appearance (3.75): About two and a half fingers of dense, creamy foam come off of the pour, capping a perfectly clear, honey-golden body sporting a steady stream of bubbles rushing to the surface. The head dies down slower than average, leaving first a cratered surface before leaving a thick film on the surface. Some suds and lacy legs stick around on the surface of the glass, showing decent but not outstanding lacing.

Smell (4.5): Extremely floral with a distinct but subtle lager yeast character—very, very nice. Honeyed biscuits, wild flowers, pear juice, fresh cut grass, some garden-fresh herbs, and soda bread. Smells fantastic for the style.

Taste (4.25): Spritzy citrus notes and a floral character jump right out, while still retaining a somewhat restrained, smooth hop character that blends with the malt body: biscuits, a touch of honey, and more soda bread. A solid, grassy-floral bitterness comes in next, showing green tea, edible flowers, and sweet grass. That bitterness moves into a mostly grassy finish that clings for half a minute before dying down. Really, really enjoyable.

Mouthfeel (4.25): Smooth carbonation leads the charge, followed by a light- side of medium-weight body with a dry feel that almost comes off as lightly tannic. The hops and dry malt, grassy with soda bread, really aid the dry feel. Very easy to drink, but satisfying at the same time.

Overall (4.25): This, in my opinion, is an outstanding example of the style, hitting all the right notes while still incorporating some distinct flourishes—light but not too light, refreshing but not without character, flavorful but not overpowering, etc. Awesome beer, and even better that it’s in a can.

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Photo of beershrine
4.26/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz Cans

Pours very nicely into a 17oz British glass. Clear golden and bright
Smells hoppy and fresh
Taste is fantastic a little aggressive on the hop load
Mouth feel lingers hops with a malt background, stays on the tongue awhile
I like Cluster hops just don't over use them. In 1876 they probably didn't use
as much hops as today and they were only half as strong so with authenticity
they are way off.

Overall it's a very good beer. I will buy again.
Beautiful packaging great job.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%

Earthy spicy hops joined by light, grainy malt on the nose.
Brilliant gold, 1” off white head quickly dissipates to thick film.
Clean malt flavors suggestive of light graham cracker, traces of citrusy fruit, spicy, with a bitter hop accent of the finish.
Medium light body, medium to medium high carbonation.

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Photo of Tom_the_bomb
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%

A super, historical salute! A great pale lager, hopped just right, and a tribute to Anchor's diversification! Love the cans !!! (though I'd suggest doing away with the red background, making it gold, and keeping the crest red.)

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Anchor California Lager from Anchor Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 1,162 ratings.
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