Anvil Ale ESB | AleSmith Brewing Company

very good
677 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 677 |  Reviews: 333
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am surprised I was able to finish a 750 over lunch, but I did. It is nicely done, somewhat bitter and not complex. But went well with various lunch dishes. Rather mild Malty and floral and understated fruitiness. Thanks Don for bringing back fresh from San Diego!

 265 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of jaydoc
3.94/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper with a 1 inch foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thin broken rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt and some earthy and herbal hop aromas. Taste is of toasted malt and some nice earthy, herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

 505 characters

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

a fine esb, which has the odd misnomer of being called bitter, when in fact these are sweeter, grain driven beers. perhaps in my case bitter has a very different, more diabolical meaning. it was brew that started as a celebration of a big win in the stanley cup playoffs last night, guzzling the sweet copper colored liquid right from the bottle in jovial preparation for what was sure to be a winnable game 7 forthcoming. to me it was a beer that would taste awful good out of the cup itself in a few more months. however, as the aromas of burnt sugar, english toffee, and old world ale yeast moved into flavors of maple syrup, candied apples, and werthers candies, the unthinkable happened. the home team gives up two goals in the final two minutes, and lost early in overtime, a situation that had less than a 0.4% chance of occurring. as jubilation turned to head in hands curses to the powers that be, and soft goaltending, anvil esb went from a celebratory quaff to a sorrow drowning full bodied sweet beer i almost resented as much as i liked it to start. and as a playoff beard that began on game 1 of 82 way back in early october fell hair by hair into an already dirty white sink and razor burn irritation set in, the final lukewarm dregs of this beer were of little comfort. this beer, like the play of my team, was good for some 95% of its performance, but it ends up middling by the end. an all too frequent collapse not only for my team, but for this underwhelming style. the parallels are too many to name. 22 ounces never experienced to much emotion, from the summit of the greatest mount, to hopeless dejection that will span the entire summer...

 1,663 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +9%

Photo of nmann08
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Valhalla, New York, NY

A: The beer is clear but dark reddish garnet in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a thick ring of bubbles around the edge and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderate aromas of earthy hops and biscuit malts in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is earthy and malty and has hints of mineral water in the flavors.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied and slightly clean on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The finish leaves a little dryness in your mouth.
O: This beer seems more flavorful and fuller-bodied compared to other ESBs but it is still very easy to drink.

 726 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

With all the newfangled ales that microbrewers are churning out (hell, I even saw a beer with bull testicles in it), Its refreshing to see time honored recipes still making waves.

Anvil ESB pours with a bright, light-gold color and the most modest of haze. A billowing ivory-white head races to the top of the glass with loosely knit foam that settles into a creamy blanket and scattering a spider-webbing of foam down the glass.

Thin caramel, biscuit and pecans start the show as the malts provide a most supple type of sweetness rounded by the slightest toasted grain character. Its dry taste is perfectly balanced with a floral hop nose and honeysuckle taste from noble English hops before developing into a spicy middle and a drying woodish bitterness to close.

Its light body is accented by its high effervescence that springs the ale from the tongue and ushers in a fast, snappy, and slightly iron-like finish. Mild minty warmth stems from alcohol along with a medium pepper note and slim hop-derived bite to close.

Anvil is an effortless ale that's well suited for near sessionable quality, but is sturdy enough for that decadent plate of bangers & mash.

 1,166 characters

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.


 1,767 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a thick, foamy head that leaves a few shards of lace

Smell: Musty caramel, overripe stone fruit, Burton-on-Trent water character, earthy hops and tobacco

Taste: Toasted bread and caramel, up front, followed by the overripe stone fruit; by the time mid-palate rolls around, the earthy hops and tobacco combat the mineral-heavy Burton-on-Trent water taste and it is those flavors that persist into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: While I generally like the ESB style, I am not a fan of the Burton beers and I am afraid this one reminds me too much of its antecedents; well-crafted, just not to my taste

 698 characters

Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of dmorgan310
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of zeff80
3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a golden amber color with a bubbly/soapy, off-white, two-finger head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of citrus and roasted malt aroma.

T - It tasted of tons of hops and very grassy. Great roasted malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good ESB.

 318 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Naven: Poured a medium brown color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention and some good lacing as well. Aroma of dry malt with some fresh lightly bitter hops. Taste is also well balance between dry malt with some very light sweet notes and a dry light bitter finish. Average body with medium carbonation. Overall, I thought this was simple without much complexity but well made to quench thirst.

 424 characters

Photo of largadeer
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into pint glass, no bottle dating, purchased recently. Pours lightly hazy reddish copper color with a nice 1-2 finger fairly dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings down the glass. Aromas of orange, grapefruit, pine, toast, raisin, caramel, molasses, floral, grass, biscuit, light nuttiness, and herbal. Very nice aromas with good strength and balance. Taste of grapefruit, caramel, toast, orange, bread, light nuttiness, grass, tea, floral, toffee, and herbal. Light herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of citrus, grass, tea, caramel, toast, nuttiness, floral, and herbal on the finish for a bit. Very nice flavor balance with good complexity; nice bitterness/sweetness balance; zero cloying flavors on the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a creamy and fairly crisp mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an damn nice ESB. Well balanced flavors with good complexity; extremely smooth to drink. No complaints at all, a very enjoyable offering as expected.

 1,146 characters

Photo of Boone757
4/5  rDev +2.6%

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Anvil Ale ESB from AleSmith Brewing Company
3.9 out of 5 based on 677 ratings.
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