This paper describes phased array beamforming using guided waves in anisotropic composite plates. A generic phased array algorithm is presented, in which direction dependent guided wave parameters and the energy skew effect are considered. This beamforming at an angular direction is achieved based on the classic delay-and-sum principle by applying phase delays to signals received at array elements and adding up the delayed signals. The phase delays are determined with the goal to maximize the array output at the desired direction and minimize it otherwise. For array characterization, the beam pattern of rectangular grid arrays in composite plates is derived. In addition to the beam pattern, the beamforming factor in terms of wavenumber distribution is defined to provide intrinsic explanations for phased array beamforming. The beamforming and damage detection in a composite plate are demonstrated using rectangular grid arrays made by a non-contact scanning laser Doppler vibrometer. Detection images of the composite plate with multiple surface defects at various directions are obtained. The results show that the guided wave phased array method is a potential effective method for rapid inspection of large composite structures.