Anvil Ale ESB | AleSmith Brewing Company

very good
330 Reviews
Anvil Ale ESBAnvil Ale ESB

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 03-10-2002

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Reviews: 330 | Ratings: 673
Photo of Bitterbill
2.27/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This pours a hazy dark amber with a 3 finger and still growing head of foam. # sips of the foam and it looks like it finally is going to settle down. Btw, the foam taste very tart fruity.

The smell is fruity with a lot of citrus and I get some malty tones.

The taste(of the actual beer) is a lot like what I tasted in the foam. Surprise. Citrus that goes from tart to just plain sour and I'm not getting a whole lot of malt here at all. Hey I love sour ales but in a brew that's supposed to be an ESB? I don't think so. Perhaps this is a bad bottle. Yeah, that must be it as I couldn't fathom this being what the brewer intended. Not being locally available, a revisit may be a long time coming...I'm pouring the rest down the drain.

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Photo of Rastacouere
2.56/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Brown body with reddish reflects. Dull short-lasting off-white head. Fairly typical nose, an average blend of malt and hops. Slightly floral and stale goldings while the malts come out earthy, rather husky and almost grainy. Pretty dry on the tongue, almost sandy. Feels oxidized to me, husky malts and orangey hops providing a toothpaste reminiscent grassy/minty/soapy hop profile. Dull palate, light-medium body, lightly oily. Huh.. Where’s the rich Alesmith malt?

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Photo of MadTown1000
2.68/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From notes

Appearance: Interesting semi-translucent caramel, with little visible carbonation

Smell: Not much

Taste: Floral hops forward. Not much of anything else, except for a little bit of bitterness in the aftertaste.

Moouthfeel: Relatively thin, but intense hops require a break for air between sips.

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Photo of thaichile
2.68/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz. Pours a clear amber with not much head. Very little carbonation. Scents of apples and hops on the nose. Roasted, carmelized, slightly coffee flavors mixed in with bitter notes that continue into the finish. Thought the roasted flavors overwhelmed the fruit and predominated the taste buds. Bottle courtesy of Zorro.

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Photo of hooliganlife
2.75/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I love ESB's and I love Alesmith so I figured the Anvil ESB would be amazing. I was sort of let down I guess. Poured from a 22oz into an imperial pint glass. the bitterness was well hidden and I really never found it. Most domestic ESB's rival their English counterparts. This was very light, in flavor, and in body. No real hop presence for me, very little malt. Overall, I was not impressed really.

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Photo of cheers2beers
2.78/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A big thank you to my friend Boolshot for a chance to try this brew.

Appearance: Pours a nice and full orange color. The almond colored head rose up to about two fingers and died out rather quickly. Slightly cloudy because the dregs were served (sometimes I like em'!). Small amounts of beading are detected.

Smell: Fruity upon first sniff then the aroma turns slightly buttery with succesive inhales. A bit of hazelnut is also observed.

Taste: Right off the bat I notice a sourness that seems out of place for an ESB. Nice and bready up front with some citrus that is again out of place in my opinion. I am not making much sense of this beer. Very fruity.

Mouthfeel: A nice amount of carbonation that tricks you into thinkin the mouthfeel is fuller than it really is. Once you get past the bubbles the body is a little thin. A touch sticky as well.

Drinkability: I mean lets face it, I love beer but does any one have a Bud? This offering was not the worst I have had but this is the first beer from Alesmith that was not "Badass" Very confusing beer that needs to be re-evaluated by the brewer.


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Photo of jujubeast6000
2.8/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 1/10/2008 (bottle):

Pours a light reddish brown body. Small light tannish head, quickly diminishing. Hoppy aroma, somewhat piney, somewhat maty, but not too strong. Malty, piney, acrid taste. Almost dusty taste. Maybe some banana. Watery & drinkable. MaltIness. More hops as it warms up. Too malty for my taste, but very drinkable.

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Photo of FreightTrain
2.83/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a copper penny color with a big three finger white head.

Smelled grainy with a whiff of hops.

Taste was watery and sour. There was a strange sweetness somewhere at the back as well, but the overriding flavor was sourness with a shot of oily hops. The flavor didn't really blend or compliment each other at all. Definitely not appealing.

Mouthfeel was very watery. Not nearly enough body to this beer, even for the style.

I guess it was drinkable since it was so light. The problem would be in the desire to drink more of it.

There are many good ESBs out there and unfortunately this outstanding brewery doesn't make one of them.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.84/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to metallitone1 for this one.

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass. Crystal clear light amber color with a very nice sized, white, bubbly head. Sporadic lacing and very nice retention.

The aroma was very, very subdued. About the only thing I could smell was wet metal. Possibly some mildly earthy hops.

Taste was a bit lacking as well. Not a whole lot of caramel or hoppiness or breadiness or anything. Slight bit of bitterness toward the end. Pretty weak overall flavor. A bit watered down and finishes quite dry.

I was expecting big things from this one. I have never had any Alesmith products and I have heard/read great things. ESB is one of my favorite style so I was a little disappointed with this one. Glad I tried it but I wont have it again.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.86/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Acquired at a beer store near San Diego about five days ago for $4.99. 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Uinta pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery, which rarely ceases to impress me.

Served a bit warmer than refrigerator cold. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a four finger khaki head of nice cream, nice thickness, and great retention - though the ABV is merely average. Colour is a clear vibrant amber. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Appealing all around, but not unique or special.

Sm: Heavy toasted malt character. Heavy caramelization. Mild floral hops. A bit of biscuit malt. Some bubblegum. I never much cared for the ESB aroma, but this represents the style well. An average strength aroma.

T: Creamy open to a lightly toasted and caramelized clean bland malt foundation with mild floral hop tinges. Very empty in terms of flavour. There's little going on here. Quite simple. No yeast or alcohol comes through. A bit boring. I do like the fresh, clean feel. A bit of peanut butter on the climax. I assume it's diacetyl. Lacks body. No real complexity, though maybe some subtlety.

Mf: Velvety, smooth, and wet. Too much so on each count. Too light. Lacks presence. Suits the style but not really the flavours.

Dr: Admittedly, I'm not big on this style. Alesmith represents it fine, and I respect that - but I've had more enjoyable ESBs. It's drinkable, but overpriced and not worth it. I wouldn't get this again. I tip me hat to Alesmith because I'm sure fans of the style like this one, but I don't care for it. Best left only to true fans of the style.


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Photo of JudgeRoughneck
2.9/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Very minimal bright white head turns into a small blotch near the center of the pint. Beer is hazy, and the color of well used brown surgical tubing. Sorry that was wierd, deep butterscotch I guess. Nose is very sweet caramel and a faint hoppyness.

Taste is very simple, just swirling sweet mid-spectrum malt with a citrusy hop bitterness, and slight yeast near the finish. This is a good ESB, but too sweet. Mouthfeel is right on if it had just a touch more carbonation.

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Photo of mentor
2.95/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Bottle provided by OStrungT as part of BIF33. Thanks for the opportunity! Pours a one finger light tan creamy head over a nearly clear rust-amber liquid. Smells caramel and malty sweet. Toffee and some burn to the grains. Hops smell like tettnanger hops...which to me is earthy/greasy. Potently pungent hoppy aroma dominates over the grains. A touch of butterscotch and some pear esters. And a touch of oranges, which I think comes from the hops.

Tastes williamette hoppy. Very dirty earthy hops with an underlying malt sweet. There is a bitterness I'm not fond of. I can't tell if the bitter is from hops or failed malt. Malt tastes like rancid caramel and leaves a plastic aftertaste in my mouth. Some dry chocolate and biscuit qualities now that I'm giving a more detailed examination. Dry finish is grassy from hops without hop bitter. Very weedy rough. Toasted grain finish comes across almost as burned. This was not an enjoyable beer, IMO. Mouthfeel is creamy, yet md-light. Carbonation is mild and a thin layer of head hung around until the bottom of the glass.

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Photo of kflorence
2.95/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a deep, copper brown with a small layer of tan foam atop. This brew is mostly opaque with particulates and a little bit of translucency on the edges. Sediment can be found in the bottom of your glass. Almost no lacing as you drink. Couldn't detect carbonation levels, but overall the beer looks to be on the lower carbonated side and perhaps a bit watery.

S: The aroma of this beer is highly fruity, mostly apple and apricot, with a lot of astringency. There is also a little bit of roast in there. Did not expect such overwhelming fruit. Judging by this aroma, the beer will be a bit on the acidic side.

T: The taste is fairly similar to the smell but with a bit more roasted character. The predominant flavors are definitely still the fruit; apple, apricot, cherry... even some grape. The roasted notes come through predominantly on the back end and the swallow and kind of linger on the tongue with an astringent fruitiness long after. Very crisp and dry finish.

M: This brew has a very unique mouthfeel. The carbonation bubbles are smaller giving it a club soda or Perrier-like feeling on the tongue (think: mineral water). I think this helps bring out some of the flavors, but I have never cared for mineral water. It almost seems to dry out the mouth.

O: Overall, not at all what I expected of this beer, though I have only had a couple of other ESB's so perhaps this is what they should be like? Definitely unique, but a little too astringent and fruity for me and not something I would seek out (acidic beverages don't sit well in my stomach). Perhaps I'm just not in the mood for this one.

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Photo of litheum94
3/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle. No dates.

Deep, amber body, near brown. Tan head that fades to a thin cover.

Caramel malts. Grape-like hops that remind me of a Nelson Sauvin single hop. Some spiceness. There's a mineral like aromas to it that reminds me of Bass.

Caramel and biscuit malts. Has that distinctive Burton-on-Trent minerality that the bottle promises. Restrained hops, with a touch of bitterness on the finish. Slight grape sourness, and somewhat floral. Body is slightly thin, and a touch syrupy on the finish. Low carbonation.

I admittedly don't have much experience with this style. The restrained flavors are a nice change to the over-hopped west coast beers I'm used to. The minerality gives this a unique twist. Not great, but doesn't disappoint.

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Photo of mactrail
3.01/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Tastes like a very lightweight English ale. Some fruitiness to the hops. Touch of sourness and dirty or earthy hops. Thin and lacking in malt. Dry and woody. Nice to look at, however, with dark amber color and long-lasting foam. Whiff of beery roast malt. If only there was more in the flavor.

Tastes like a very dilute amber ale. I get too much of the dishwater taste for this to be enjoyable.

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Photo of mynie
3.05/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours out of a big old bomber all dark foggy orange with a giant, uncontrolable head. Not spoiled, I don't think. It sure doesn't taste or smell spoiled, though maybe a bit overcarbonated. I really wish there was a Best By date.

Smells of wel. balanced caramel malt and grapefruit hops. Not that complex or intense, but well balanced, like I said.

Tastes just like it smells, only with a wee bit of overcarbonation serving to weaken both the malt and the hop. Still well balanced and fairly tasty, but not really impressive in any way.

Good beer, but not up to what I expect from Alesmith.

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Photo of winomark
3.06/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear amber color with a non-existent head.

Aroma: Little or no aroma. Can sense some hops, and some malt, but very minimal.

Taste: Very mild palate, almost not there until some malt in the finish. No hops apparent. Disappointing for an ESB.

Mouthfeel: Thin and watery. No "meat" to it at all. Absolutely no carbonation.

Drinkability: A poor showing IMO from Alesmith, but I wonder if I got a bad bottle. There is no "born on" or "drink by" date, so maybe it sat too long on somebody's shelf. Might try again, but not likey.

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Photo of Floydster
3.08/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pint from the PB Tap Room in San Diego

Pour was a medium brown color with a nice full body and 1/2 inch white head

Smell was full of malt and has a lot of roastiness

Taste was dry and extremely bitter with a vanilla and caramel aftertaste

Could not drink too many of these, pretty heavy and sweet, not a session beer for sure

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.1/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, warm amber with one finger of eggshell head. Anvil has a light fruity nose melded to a cidery smell and a strange taste that’s too fruity to be traditional yet too quirky to appease innovative artistry. The flavor tilts towards apricot with a bittering element sharper than historic trends. Anvil tastes like an American pale with over-conditioned water and left me in no hurry for another.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.16/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darker copper with a frothy cream-colored head. Aroma of malts and yeast. Taste is a lighter ESB, with a pleasant bitterness. Stong malt and yeast make for a crisp bite with an easy aftertaste. Doubles as a great marinade for streaks and brats.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 750ml bottle into tulip glass. Pours bcopper color, sparkling clarity, and good foam retention throughout. Deep toasty/caramelly malt balanced by spicy/fruity hop flavors accented by fruit esters resulting. The aroma is subtle and reflects the flavor with malt, hop and fruit (ester)/fermentation characteristics. Smooth, medium-bodied. There were some harsh or astringent sensations with the finish. But, again, this is an ESB. With respect to one of my favorite breweries, this is not my choice of beer.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
3.18/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear dark amber with a decent head that dissipates to a fine ring, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Smells malty and brown sugary, with a little spice.

Tastes malty and sweet, only bitterness is in the long finish and not very bitter.

Mouthfeel is light and flat.

Can barely put a pint of this down. Not very exciting.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.2/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I originally sampled this beer on 27 May 2003. I am writing this review from my notes. This pours a nice copper color. It is smooth on the palate. In my opinion, this would be a very good session beer. It's nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. Given that other Alesmith beers are world class, this one isn't worth seeking out

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Photo of Samuel906
3.21/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

Pours a very nice looking reddish amber, very clear and bright with off-white to straw colored head that is thick and clingy. Some subtle effervescing of bubbles. Smell is caramel, apples, black tea and yeast. I get very pronounced tea character in the taste as well with hints of lemon and some thick bready malts to finish it off. Has a character reminiscent to me a bit of a Wee Heavy. Mouthfeel was much to thick and syrupy for me and did not suit the style well. Mild carbonation and my mouth was left feeling sticky.

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Photo of theopholis
3.23/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- Body is a relatively clear, deep amber with blood orange highlights. The head is huge, and has decent staying power. Very little lacing however, and what there is doesn't last. Continually effervesces with very small bubbles for quite some time.

Smell- Decent, malt sweetness on the nose, but not cloying. Hints of darker mark flavors and some good English hops. Just the barest hint of cideryness.

Taste- Tastes like a decent English ESB except just the barest hint of pinyness. This is not to style, but actually enhances the flavor. Good malt proile with a hint of creaminess. Not as much toastiness as I would expect. Gets a bit biscuity as it warms. Overall, very nice.

Mouthfeel: Good and creamy all around, medium-bodied. Low level of carbonation, whuch works well. Not much stickiness tho, which detracts from the aftertaste.

Drinkability: A decent, but not great ESB.

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Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
3.9 out of 5 based on 673 ratings.
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