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Anchor California Lager | Anchor Brewing Company

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very good
220 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: 220 | Ratings: 1,131
Photo of Philousa
3.86/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear bright yellow with a half finger of dense head sitting atop an active glass of bubbling brew. Typical lager aroma with a good nutty kick to it. No one nut stands out, but it's more prevalent than the slight tang from the yeast, solid honey presence, and somewhat metallic twinge. I also get some cracker, which is of note since I normally don't detect any malt in the nose. This starts out a little sweet from un-fermented malt and honey, but turns quickly to mild tang and nut, toasted cracker, and fades to a bright, nectar hop with bitterness mild and fleeting. A mix of the young hop bitterness and cracker linger together. Feel is slightly watery with more body than I would have imagined with a sweet finish.

This is a very solid offering from Anchor. While I still prefer Trumer, this would be great on a hot day. If they were to get more attenuation or just bring down the sweetness in another way then this would be a great brew.

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Photo of scratch69
3.66/5  rDev -2.4%
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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Photo of steveh
3.86/5  rDev +2.9%
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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Photo of magictacosinus
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pokal glass from a 12oz bottle.

Pours a golden, yellow clear color with a ton of champagne-like carbonation that (at least, thanks to the glass), keeps pumping bubbles upwards for what seems to last forever. Some sit on the bottom, around the edges of the glass. A foamy, white head crowns the top, dwindling to about a half finger size but never giving up. Thicker than expected. When rated to the style, this is pretty much top notch.

The flavor is a lightly laden combination of crisp cereal grains, grassy, wet hops, and an undeniable skunky flavor that comes quite often in these types of beers. The finish is a dried apple/pear combo, with a little bit of mustiness from the yeasty byproduct, as well as a refreshing, dried grass and floral hoppiness. A touch of sweetness from the alcohol, although at that point everything gets more subtle. Light indeed, but pleasant.

The flavor consists of a bittered, cracked barley flavor combined with a juicy, slightly sweetened malty character with a little bit of grass from the hops, and dried skunkiness from the yeast. Everything is well represented here! The grains immediately bring in some bitterness, but it quickly turns into a fruity, dried finish combined with the hop flavor and slight alcohol sweetness. The apple cider-ish flavor still is at full strength here, but the emphasis clearly in on the cereal golden grains. Carbonation is excellent, and this is far more thickened as a result. Very bite-y, even as far as the style goes, and not as gentle on the palate as a result, but I think that makes it more interesting.

I really enjoy that this is available year round as of this year - but I especially love using this as a replacement for all of the rather generic summer beers that come around this time of the year. I could have a ton of these in one session. Anchor really made an everyday, crowd-pleasing beer here... But it's quite tasty and one of the best German style lagers I've had in America in a long time.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

One of the things I really enjoyed about this beer was its well-thought out nods to California history, from the label design (always classy) to their choice of hops. The beer itself was enjoyable in a sessionable-lager sort of way, but this is not necessarily one I’d go out of my way to try again.
It pours a manila tan-gold color with generous foaming. There’s a light honeyed aroma with just a hint of that signature Anchor Steam yeast character. It’s delicately hopped. The flavor is crisp with just a touch of the hop character. Finishes effervescent & light. Overall I found this a tasty take on the much maligned lager. Paired well with tacos.

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Photo of DeanMoriarty
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a 6'r of these at Bev Mo in Point Loma for $8 - poured into a Plan Nine Alehouse branded tulip.

Pours what some may refer to as "fizzy yellow beer" though I hate to associate such a great brewery with such a morbid description, but I have to call a spade a spade here. Smell is sweet and malty with some grassy notes in there as well. Taste is also sweet and malty, slightly herbal and mildly bitter. Finish is very clean, lively carbonated and a lingering bitterness from the hops. Has moments of coming across like and English pale in flavor but has a light body. Extreme easy drinker - great session beer for the long warm California days of summer.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: clean, light amber... frothy white head

S: not much there to dazzle the senses.... clean, bright, mild grain kernel dominates, very tiny touch of leafiness.... no-to-little fruitiness

T: very clean and mellow overall.... light on the (cereal, bready) malt, light on the hops.... lightly fruity with some mellow residual bitterness

M: lighter body than I would have guessed for (or have experienced in) an all-malt lager.... something in the process.... still fairly smooth and dry for what it is, no bite or astringency.... very easy to drink

O: not bad at all.... the "missing link" between the macro swill and the quite-malty domestic all-malts I've enjoyed

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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 Halcyondays
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a light orange to dark golden colour. Good head retention, billowy at times, some solid lace.

S: Barley malt direct, bready, some nice noble hopping.

T: Cereal and cracked bread, with a considerable hopping for the style. Notes of grass and earth with a slight citrus.

M: Very crisp and easy drinking, light-bodied, would be great for the summertime.

O: This is an excellent drinking pale lager, well worth a try if you're in Cali.

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Photo of lsummers
3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crisp straw yellow with a slight orange, nice one finger head that leave nice lacing.

Smells of malty molasses with a touch of pine.

Tastes of white bread with biscuit and toffee notes mixed with a touch of piny hops.

Mouthfeel is crisp yet round enough to feel like a substantial lager as apposed to a light beer.

Overall it's a great lager that reminds me of a German Octoberfest beer. I would like to try this on draft as a comparison.

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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 popery
3.86/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

If I was purely rating to style, my score would be even higher. This beer is very clean, light and refreshing with no real off-flavors. On top of that, it doesn't cheat by loading the beer up with hops and comes in at a low price point. It's a good looking lager, too. Nice bright yellow-gold color with a creamy white head that sticks around for quite a long time. Perfectly transparent. The aroma is so clean that I'm not quite sure how to rate it. There's a little bit of sweetly yeasty, doughy malt flavor and a touch of floral/herbal hops, maybe a tad bit citric. The taste starts sweet with squeaky clean, fresh, bright malt. Quickly, an herbal hop bitterness combines with a tart yeast flavor to dry the beer out. The finish is lightly malt sweet with more hop flavor/bitterness and tart yeastiness. It reminds me of a toned down German pilsener with that refreshing hard water crispness. The finish particularly has a lingering mineral character. The beer drinks very easily and sits on the palate as light as can be. I'm not exactly about to run out to the store to buy more, but if I needed a macro lager substitute, I would go with this beer.

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Photo of lynchmob9
3.48/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: amber gold-copper fusion, lacy head.
S: oaty, bready, wet hay, chalk, cucumber.
T: full-bodied for lager, good hop presence drying out malt. Interesting.
M: refreshing but full...would pair with richer or spicy food as can stand up to but not interfere.
O: good beer. Would I order another?! Still thinking about that...

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Photo of McStagger
3.59/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

New Anchor beer? Hell yes.

A: Pours a jaundiced yellow with two fingers fairly sticky bleached white head. Retention is excellent for the style, with good lacing as well. Carbonation is moderate, with small individual bubbles rushing to for the head.

S: Lot of clean, milled grain in this nose. Toasty, with a slight herbal characteristic. Some cereal notes, but missing the adjunct scents, which makes sense.

T: Again, clean, with milled grain dominating the palate. Hop presence is earthy and partially herbal. Dry finish, with lingering herbal traces.

M: Light to medium bodied. Subdued carbonation adds an element of creaminess to the mouthfeel.

O: Simple and straightforward, I can see why this would be a popular beer for the working class in the 19th century. While this isn't something I would actively seek out, it's good to get some perspective on much how beer has changed in the last 100 or so years.

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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 JohnF51
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The marks I give this beer is for comparison to other lagers only.

Poured into a standard pint glass. Pours nice light gold color with a small head that quickly dissipates. Nice bubbles keeps a small amount of foam on top. Some light lacing.

Nice aroma, mellow grass and grains with a small amount of citrusy hop smell.

Nice bitter start with a slight toasted bread taste. Good, dry mouthfeel. Leaves a nice bitter flavor on the back of the sides of the tongue. Particularly suited for warmer weather when you really need a nice cool beer.

Impressions? Very good sessionable lager. I give it high marks compared to other lagers.

I am not particularly a lager drinker, but this one would rate as one of my favorites. It would probably be my go to lager were it not for the price. That, however, may just be because it is not available in the supermarkets in my area and I purchased it at a small specialty store.

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Photo of dertyd
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz bottle to a pint glass

A:a nice golden yellow color with about a 1 finger head that fades away and leaves a nice thin lace that slowly trickls down the glass its so beautyfull lol

S:toasted grains,fresh grass and some citrus fruits a lot of smells going on for a lager

T:wow!!!! I love anchor brewing all there brews are great and this one is so good at first taste you get that american lager taste like grains,cereal,toasted corn but on the finnish you get that trade mark anchor bitterness wich is so so so good

M:crisp,smooth and dry

Overall: what a damn good beer I love it.its cool because I am from california and this is like takeing it back old school this is my new sesion beer can put theese away all day good job anchor and r.I.p boca brewing your lager lives on

Live life drink beer!!!:-)

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Photo of Zorro
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Light golden colored lager with a small white colored head.

Smells malty with a biscuit malt aroma. Herbal and spicy hop aroma. Slight citrus aroma.

Starts out dry with a good bite of bitterness. Hard water mineral bite. Little bit of toasted grain flavor but mostly this is pretty dry with a solid hop bite to it.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall a nice clean lager from Anchor Stream, something lighter that is well suited to drink with lunch.

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Photo of raynmoon
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Looks average, crystal clear. Probably just pale malt used in it. It looks very summery and refreshing.

Smells sweet, slightly fruity and touch of a house yeast character. Basically: smells like an Anchor beer.

Hmmm, whoa. Its very nostalgic in the taste. It has that bready, cereal quality, but with a nice bitterness and a very slight "skunky" taste, but it somehow works. It lingers with a nice bitterness and a touch of citrus.

I think Anchor has got something nice here. It's like a fancy coors ha. This will replace a lot of summertime beers for me.

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Photo of esdeebrew
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasted from draft at Anchor Brewing's tasting room. More hoppy than a typical lager, which is appropriate for California beer if atypical for the style. Pleasant piney taste with crisp, mouthwatering finish. Thin lacing. Pleasant effervescence. Crispness makes it right at home in the ranks of German lagers- interesting, since the crispness seems to come from hops instead of water minerality. I'll be having lots of this while I visit the Bay Area!

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Anchor California Lager from Anchor Brewing Company
3.75 out of 5 based on 1,131 ratings.
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