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 vkv822
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz : tulip

Clear amber red with a thick, foamy off white head with light lacing.

Toasty, biscuit malts with light caramel hints and mineral qualities and lightly earthy hop profile.

Medium body, with mild foamy carbonation.

A well done ESB. Enjoyable, though fairly standard flavor profile for the style.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, pours a deep amber as the bottle describes, topped with a tall frothy ivory head that holds excellent retention. Aromas are sweet and a little earthy/musty with toasted grain, caramel, very faint grassy citric hop in the background. Tastes are full of sweet toasted grain, caramel, toffee, oats, and very well balanced with a pleasant earthy hop profile. Creamy medium body is complemented with perfect carbonation. Overall, excellent representation of the style! I'm super excited that Alesmith is now available ~30mins from home! Last time I had one from this brewery, I ordered it online (their IPA).

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Photo of Chickenhawk9932
3.76/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a muddy copper color with a tan/yellowish head. The head has good retention and leaves some heavy lacing.

Smells of pine, lemon, and musty herbal hop.

Crisp, clean, very drinkable. It is watery refreshing up front with a bitter bite in the back that leaves your mouth tingling for more. As it warms some toffee sweet malt notes come out to give a little balance to the bitter dominance. The pine, lemon, and bitter herb hit simultaneously with one punch. A very interesting beer, fun to drink. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy.

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Photo of fx20736
4.41/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a nonic, served at fridge temp.

Turbid, dark, copper amber like brewed tea, pecan sandy cream colored head, nice lacing.

aroma; strongly fruity like apricots and pears with a rich maltiness and a faint hint of hops. This beer has a profoundly enticing aroma that goes on and on.

mouthfeel: well structured

taste: malty, fruity with a strong musty hoppiness and a measured bitterness.

notes; strikes a strong balance between powerful malts and complex hops. This is a bold, risk taking, delicious beer.

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Photo of colts9016
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was recently in another state and found some Alesmith. I was stoked to try some more of their brews. Poured into a nonic at 40 degrees.

Appearance: A one finger head that is frothy and foamy with fair retention. The head left some lacing on the glass. The color of the beer is a rich mahogany hue with a deep reddish copper hues. The clarity of the beer is fairly clear with yeast and carbonation bubbles.

Nose: A moderate hop aroma that has floral, pine, and some citrus (orange and grapefruit. The malt is toasty with caramel notes. The only other aroma I can smell is some yeast akin to green apples and herbal.

Taste: A very rich deep malt complex with caramel nutty, and toast. The hops is floral, grapefruit, pine, and some lemon zest. A slight green apple and herbal taste on the end of the beer.

Mouth feel of the beer is astringent, carbonated, and dry.

Overall: The body of the beer is medium and the finish is medium full. This beer is wonderful, all round rich complex flavor that are well developed. I really wish I had more of these beer in my fridge, because I could see me drinking more of this on a regular bases.

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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.

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

A: Poured from the bomber into a pint glass. Body is clear amber that's mahogany-hued when backlit - with a small tannish head. Leaves some nice lace behind.

S: First impression was surprise over how sweet it seemed. Caramel malt and toffee with some nuttiness. Seems slightly off in some ways that I can't quite place.

T: Follows the nose, with caramel malt the dominant impression. Also some fruity sweetness - maybe raspberries. Also some orange or orange peel, along with a touch of lemony bitterness at the finish that provides some balance, with a modest bitterness lingering in the aftertaste and cutting the sweetness a bit.

M: Medium in heft, carbonation is appropriately active, but not sharp.

O: Solid stuff. Doesn't blow me away - there is something odd about the nose and it's not exactly balanced like I think an ESB should be - but it's good.

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Photo of DocJitsu
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy dark amber color with a white-tan head. Had dissipates relatively quickly. Nutty, carrot cake, chocolate, and coffee aromas emerge. Mouthfeel is smooth, wet, and light- to medium-bodied. Green vegetables, yams, and faint horehound flavors. Finishes a little bitter and sour. Very interesting.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.55/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ahhh, my first AleSmith.

Pours a rich chestnut color with a thin, lacy off-white head. Clean aroma of hops and biscuity malts. The first taste is just...awesome. Incredibly well-balanced and flavorful, with mild hops, caramel/toffee and biscuit, with maybe a hint of fruit. Smooth and creamy -- just a delightful beer to sip. Wow. I'm blown away by the delicate, well-crafted nature of this beer.

I'm so glad I ordered 3 AleSmith beers from LetsPour. This is just outstanding.

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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 Brad007
3.84/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice reddish-ruby color with a thin head into my glass. I love the color and it matches up as expected.

A mix of light, grassy hops and sweet, buttery malt greet my nose. Malt-forward as opposed to hop-saturated.

The taste reflects it too. Just the right amount of bitterness that compliments the sweet, buttery toffee malt.

Crisp, clean aftertaste with a good amount of carbonation. Nothing harsh to nitpick over.

I haven't had an ESB in a while so this is a treat to behold. No-frills, easy drinking. Not too high in ABV either.

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Photo of tlazaroff
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yummy malty goodness on the nose! Nice sweet caramel, toffee, nuts and baked bread. It smells like a confectionary of the best kind.

Beautiful dark amber in color with big carbonation bubbles slowly rising to the surface. The head is a light tan that holds fairly well and laces in really nice rings as you sip away.

The flavor mimics the taste incredibly well with big emphases on toasted almonds and cashews. Smooth and surprising light, with a medium carbonation level, this beer is easy to drink, refreshing, and completely satisfying.

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

No date but it's in one of the new bottles. Tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark caramel color with a cap of dark tan head, receding quickly to a ring and some splotches.

S: Toffee, graham cracker, nuts, some cream.

T: Kind of an offish malt toffee flavor, almost like red pepper without the spice? Very dry. Doesn't quite come together.

M: Light, pretty easy drinking. Light smooth carbonation and body.

O: Not bad, but I remember this being better on draft. I'll take the standard British import ESBs over this.

This is a pretty good ale, better its counterfactual as a lager.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a dimpled mug. I really loved the AleSmith Nut Brown, so I have high hopes for this!

Appearance: dark brown hue with a basically haze-free body and a finger of frothy tan foam. Head has decent retention and leaves a nice lacing on the glass. I like it.

Smell: nice, rich, malty aroma with a touch of earthy hops. Objectively, it's well-crafted and appropriate, but the malt character is really quite biscuity and it just rubs me the wrong way a bit.

Taste: much like the aroma, there's a good malt-hop balance here and this beer strikes me as very well-crafted, but the flavor choices in the malt bill are just not to my taste.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a big carbonation and a nice, big, mouth-filling creaminess. Bam!

Overall: I had high hopes for this beer. Its quality doesn't disappoint at all, but I'm really not a fan of this really biscuity malt bill.

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Photo of Flounder57
3.91/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz beer was poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: The beer poured a one finger head that has reduced to a small puffy layer. It is a copper brown color with some clarity and visions of carbonation coming up through the glass. Nice lacing on the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: sweet and bready malts, biscuit, toasted oats, yeast notes, and some fruitiness.

Taste: chocolate, bready malts, grainy, slight bitterness, nutty, and some roasty and toasty flavors.

Mouthfeel: medium carbonation, a little watery, light to medium bodied, a little chewy, and enjoyable on the palate.

Overall: Pretty solid ESB. Fullers and Hobglobin I have had a lot, but happy to add this one to the mix.

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Photo of seand
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a translucent amber with a fair amount of light tan head. A ring around the edge retains, as well as some spots of film on the surface, and there are some pretty good walls of lacing.

S: Sweet fruit and grain, with just a bit of malty thickness.

T: Mild caramel and brown sugar sweetness, with a fruit-like touch.

M: Medium to light body, medium carbonation; a little watery near the finish.

Overal, an enjoyable if not exception ESB. There's a decent chance I'll buy it again.

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

22 oz bomber, no bottled-on date, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a dark brown with ruby highlights, produces a finger of tan head, nice retention, spotty lacing.

S- Caramel malt aroma complemented by earthy, herbal hops, nice mineralic water quality.

T- Similar to the nose with sweet caramel and bready malt, some herbal, earthy hops with a bit of citrus. The mineralic quality of the water works really nicely here. Has a nice finish of caramel and a bit of herbal hop bitterness.

M- Medium-bodied, smooth, creamy feel.

O- A nice ESB, very tasty and extremely drinkable.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Purchased in June 2012, but this could be old considering it's brewed in the Fall. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Caramel brown, chestnut color. About a half finger of light tan head. Looks to be good carbonation.

S: Smells nutty. Sweet malts. Some piney hops hops.

T: Nice ESB. Nice roasty toffee notes, on a mild scale. Bready malts. Some nice lingering hops still in there to balance it out.

M: Medium bodied brew. Low ABV I assume.

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

Anvil Ale ESB pours a really nice scarlet stained copper color. It’s mostly clear. A little light reveals really nice orange and reddish highlights. It’s topped with an off-white head that stands a little over a finger or so tall. Retention was definitely on the shorter side. Lacing was definitely on the sticky side, leaving a really nice web of lace trailing down the glass.

The nose is a little weak in the aromatics department. It needs more strength. The malt base smells like a mix of light caramel and toasted malts. It smells a little sweet. Hops are definitely in the mix. They definitely seem English. They’re a little fruity, but feature some grassy and Earthy notes. There’s a strong bready or yeasty scent that’s prominent throughout. Alcohol is masked extremely well. I’m not getting much at all in that department.

The flavor is impressive. It is a little sweet up front. Caramel and toasted malts anchor things down nicely. It’s a flavorful malt base. Yeast is relatively strong and has a bread-like flavor to it. It works well and complements the malty flavors nicely. There are some nice hop flavors. They’re a little citric and grassy. I have no idea what the hop profile is, but it definitely seems like some form of English hops. They provide just a slight bitter flavor. Alcohol is buried and is not noticeable at all. Finishes yeasty and a little malty.

The body is on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation is active, but isn’t buzzy. It really has a pretty good mouthfeel. I won’t have any problem finishing off this bomber. It is easy drinking.

Anvil Ale ESB is a really nice release from Alesmith Brewing Company. It really is a tasty representation of the style. If it has any shortcomings, the nose could use a little more strength. That’s about it. It’s impressive otherwise. Definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of Drinkerofales
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer is almost clear dark copper, with golden highlights. A huge tan head leaves medium lacing, and is overall quite a nice looking beer.

Smell is lightly spicy and fruity, faint earthy hops and warm and mild caramel malts.

Tastes is a bit understated however, all around. Malts up fron, hops on the finish, gaining some tang as is warms.

Feel is thin, but not fizzy, smooth, with a watery wet finish.

While I can smell and see some great quality, the flavor isn't as big as I feel it could be. Or, it just might not be my thing, but when I think "bitter", this isn't it.


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Photo of angrybabboon
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed 5/9/12

Appearance: Dark copper/amber, pours clear - creamy, foamy off-white head to start, leaves a nice ring and spotty lacing

Smell: On the mild side - caramel malts, toffee, and dry, toasted biscuits - a touch of hard water, but not excessively English - a coffee ground-like roasted character, some dark fruit, English hops, nicely balanced

Taste: Easy drinking and tasty - caramel malts, pale malts, toasted biscuits, bread crust, toasted grains, slightly roasted malts, toffee, some hints of dark fruits - on the dry side, a nice level of sweetness - English hops with a touch of grass - slight minerality and hard water, but it's more subtle than in your face, and I approve

Mouthfeel: Medium body, very smooth, excellently carbonated, super drinkable

Overall: A remarkably drinkable ESB

While the aroma and taste are not overwhelmingly exciting, this beer is absurdly quaffable, especially for the style. I was not necessarily planning on drinking this bomber in one sitting, but it's definitely going to happen.

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Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.43/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz capped bottle into a nonic tumbler- pours a surprisingly dark copper/red (almost mahogany) with one finger of beige head, which holds its own for a while and leaves some sticky lacing.

Smell is mostly comprised of toasted malts and hops. Some caramel, a little orange, something a little earthy.

Tastes great- definitely a lot of toasted malt, which comes through pretty strong at first (reminiscent of a dry stout almost), followed by some caramel malt sweetness, punctuated by an earthy hop bitterness. Finish is very nice, long, semi-sweet/semi-dry.

Mouthfeel is great- medium body with moderate carbonation. This is an exceptionally crafted beer and great complexity of flavor for such a drinkable, low ABV beer. Buy it if you see it!

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

Pours a nice looking fluffy slightly tan 1 finger head that fades fairly slowly and leaves decent lacing as it does. The beer is a mostly clear darker amber toasty ruby reddish colored beer, with lots of bubbles rising up to reinforce the head.

Nose emits an herbal earthy grassy hop aroma, lightly floral, fairly grassy, with hints of herbal notes, light malty aromas with hints of toasty reddish malts, but that's about it.

Taste comes out malty at first, some caramel and plenty of toasty reddish copper malts, with a hint of sweetness and some juicy malts. Then hops again, but keeps from getting too bitter. A big grassy herbal hop flavor comes through, but not the Hedgerow herbal vegetative UK style herbal, a different one I can't really label otherwise. I like this one better than the U.K. style I'm used to. The earthy hops bring hints of fruit as well, and quite grassy almost hay like grassy. As it finishes it dries quite a bit with lots of toasty grainy speckled copper malts, a nice bitterness that doesn't overpower, and a bit more of the very grassy slight herbal hops.

Mouth is med to a bit lighter bodied, tons of carbonation.

Overall not bad, better than I expected, I kinda put this one off for a little while as I was afraid it would have that herbal U.K. like hop that I don't like in most ESBs. Decent grainy malts, nice grassy hops, a bit floral, earthy, and tasty, without too much bitterness or sweetness.

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