Anvil ESB is the flagship ale produced by San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company and was the first beer ever produced by the brewery. AleSmith is one of California’s most awarded craft breweries known for their unfiltered hoppy brews as well as heavy hitters like Speedway Stout and Old Numbskull Barleywine. The Anvil ESB is a bit of a San Diego twist on the standard British Premium Bitter style of session ale. Premium Bitters or Extra Special Bitters are higher alcohol (4.5 to 6%) versions of the more sessionable bitter style. At 5.5% ABV, Anvil ESB is certainly within the range of alcohol to be called a ESB stylistically.
Cracking the cap and beginning to pour I find a solid heavy and creamy foam forming atop the brilliant ruby and copper toned body. Slowing the pour down, it comes to rest with a thick mess of a chunky two finger creamy beige head and some heavy lacing around the glass. The nose is a bit abrupt and has a solid hop with pleasant floral and fruity notes. The nose is rather odd stylistically with an enhanced fruitiness pairing with toasted bready and caramel malts. Taking my first sip of the Anvil I notice a pronounced fruit flavour of both banana and apples which is certainly odd. Toasted bread and grainy malts with caramelized sweetness and a hint of toffee pairs well with the intricate floral hop notes and a rather unusual fruity character. The finish is really crisp and has a mild but not overbearing bitterness that lingers for a short time. On the whole this is an exceptionally well done ESB in that the hops aren’t too foreboding and there is still plenty of grainy and bready malts as well as tasty fruit and floral hop centric notes. In general, a very well done and well balanced ESB.
Grade: 86/100 Price: $4.69 (in California)