Served in irony, Anchor Small comes in a 1.6 fl oz bottle and has an interesting story. This low abv beer is made by using the second run off (see sparge) from the leftover grains used to make their Old Foghorn Barleywine. This idea is actually very earth friendly and economical when you think about it. Instead of throwing away grain that still has residual sugars in it, they rinse the mash again in order to pull out any remaining sugars and use that wort to brew this beer. The result is a lighter beer with reduced sugar for yeast to feed on…hence the term “small.”
I found it ironic yet again that I was looking at a beer which came from the same grain bill as a Barleywine. The color was a slightly hazy gold, with light copper hues throughout. A gorgeous fluffy head rose up to cap this little brew which laced as my beer disappeared.
Not sure exactly what to expect I plunged my nose in to get a smell. Light, yet great notes of caramel. Additional hints of biscuit, hay, chaff, and toffee complete the malt aromas. The Golding hops lend a very herbal, grass, dank and minor spicy quality to the smell. This seems to over take the weakened malt character, but not in a bad way.
The flavor is all hops mixed with some yeast. This is definitely not a beer to age so when purchasing this beer make sure you try and find a fresher bottle. If you do end up with an older bottle, there will be a more pronounced yeasty flavor and minor hop off flavors. The hops are spicy on the back half of the sip, the malt bready. Smooth and light caramel/toffee notes lay down some backbone, but this is an English Bitter style ale so the emphasis is on the hop. It is light as the yeast did not have as much feed on. I’d say this is a great table beer or as Anchor suggests a “sessionable” drinker. Honestly, while this beer is good, I’d probably reach for another beer if I was at a pub with my buddies. However, I would recommend this beer for BBQ, cookouts, and large dinners were a flavorful and refreshing ale is called for.