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Starr Hill Amber Ale - Starr Hill Brewery

Starr Hill Amber AleStarr Hill Amber Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

160 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 160
Reviews: 99
rAvg: 3.37
pDev: 13.65%

Brewed by:
Starr Hill Brewery visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
Irish Red Ale |  4.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: karst on 04-17-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 160 | Reviews: 99 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of CrellMoset


3.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from ... well, from somewhere. Starr Hill is so ubiquitous in Charlottesville, it's hard to tell. Poured into a traditional American pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a transparent ... well, amber body with a tan, one-finger head with average retention and some nice lacing, in places. Nice colors all around. A medium amount of carbonation, and it rises to the top at a fair pace.

Aroma: Pale roasted malts, dry toasted notes, little hop presence.

Taste: Crisp and relatively dry, with some residual roasted sweetness, toast, light nuttiness, a mellow, low-level bitterness, and a few faint leafy hop notes. Pretty standard.

Mouthfeel: Crisp but still pretty creamy, uneven, a little thin, with a lot of spritzy effervescence - too much, I think.

Drinkability: I've had this beer more times than I can count, so it can't be too undrinkable, I suppose. That being said, it's a pretty standard, low abv% ale and it's consumption is more a factor of its immense availability rather than anything particular about its quality.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2008 19:17:42 | More by CrellMoset
Photo of SaCkErZ9


2.63/5  rDev -22%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. A rather dark, almost brown ale looking appearance; raspberry chocolate colored. Thin white head, no lacing, no retention.

Aroma is basically nonexistent. Perhaps some light spiciness. I guess it is kind of "fall seasonal" like in its aroma but there really isnt much to smell.

More fall flavors. A little spicy. Some black pepper flavors. Slightly toasty. Thin on the mouthfeel. This wasnt a bad beer but it just didnt taste like much, smell like much, or leaving any lasting impressions. This is probably the best worst beer I have had because there arent any real flaws (although the style is a bit debatable). I will not have again.

Style: This isnt an Englsih PA, not and Amber. Perhaps a brown or more likely, an Oktoberfest type beer. If this is an English Pale Ale, it may be the worst "to style" EPA I have tasted.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2008 23:42:02 | More by SaCkErZ9
Photo of blackie


3.3/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: poured into a standard pint, gives a 2 finger khaki head with quality retention and lacing, the beer is a stained-wood brown in color

s: notes of fall leaves, toasted butternut squash, and nutty Munich grain, papery English hops give dried lemon, lightly sweet, a little oktoberfest-ish, on the malty side but pretty well balanced

m: carbonation just under medium, medium body

t: notes of butternut squash and soggy nuts supposedly from the Munich malt, dried leaves, toasted grain sweetness, English hops give a moderate flavoring of dry herbs and a light bitterness, only big detractor is a little butter lingering after the swallow

d: whatever the style is, it's not a bad beer, but I won't likely purchase another

my first Starr Hill, single bottle from Fresh Farm in Hampton, VA while in town working for the week...notched as best by November (2008?)

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2008 02:35:59 | More by blackie
Photo of Cresant


3/5  rDev -11%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic glass. Consumed months before the best by date. The body was clear, dark copper/leather colored. A half inch of khaki head faded quickly.

Smell was somewhat metallic. Toasted malts.

Taste was molasses-like. Bittersweet. Bitterness seems to be from roasted malts more so than hops. Light nutiness. Drying.

Mouthfeel was medium in body, with medium carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2008 23:04:52 | More by Cresant
Photo of oelergud


3.48/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Standard tall brown 12oz glass bottle with a twist-off cap. Red five point star on a purple background.
Beautiful ruby maple translucent body with a large off-white pillowy head with great retention and clumpy lace.
Mildly sweet malts with a touch of nuts and hay. Faint grassy hops and a bit of syrup.
Sweet up front malty flavor. Vegetable, hops and caramel mixed in a modest flavor combo. Good hoppy aftertaste almost with a resin character.
Medium body with a somewhat dry finish.
Good drinkability, not all that interesting though.


Serving type: bottle

07-01-2008 21:14:46 | More by oelergud
Photo of RobH


3.98/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed in late June with a September "drink by" date.

This is definitely an English-style ale and I think it should be classified as an English Brown Ale instead of Pale Ale based of its overall profile:

Beautiful tawny-brown color when held up to the light, with a nice tan head.

Smells of malts on the nose leading to a lovely, almost creamy mouthfeel of pleasant maltiness on the palate, with very little hops burning through to take over the malt, allowing the maltiness to linger nicely -- yet there are enough hops to keep it well balanced.

I like this style of ale and find this particular one to be very drinkable and refreshing. I will buy more of this one.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2008 02:37:55 | More by RobH
Photo of Hojaminbag


3.23/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Brown body with ruby highlights and an off white head with decent retention. Leaves some sticky lacing.

A sweet and roasted malt aroma.

Taste similar to aroma. Very slight hop taste with some sweet malts in the middle. Finishes with a dry roasted flavor. Mouthfeel is almost creamy.

Average drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2008 19:13:21 | More by Hojaminbag
Photo of Riverwarrior


3.93/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

S = This had a "doppelbock" aroma (very malty).

T = Semi-sweet maltiness upfront with a hint of caramel in the middle. A hint of hops bitterness round out the flavor, but the bitterness doesn't last and I was left with a slight "doppelbock" sweetness.

MF = Medium body with moderate carbonation.

I wasn't expecting this to be full of flavor, but turns out, it was just that...full of malty sweetness that really shines through for a great, easy to drink beer. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2008 12:18:29 | More by Riverwarrior
Photo of BeerSox


3.23/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into nonic.

Clear deep mahogany color with a one finger light tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap.

Lightly sweet malts with touch of brown sugar and raisins.

Delicate malts that aren't too sweet, with some light caramel. Light bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. The finish is pretty clean except for a little bit of lingering malts.

This one seemed a little watery to me. It doesn't have any off flavors or anything like that though. I wouldn't turn one down if it was what's available, but I won't seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2008 02:38:28 | More by BeerSox
Photo of asabreed

New York

3.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A fairly unobtrusive amber color with nice carbonation and an off-white head with decent retention.

Smell: Toasted grains with some mild fruit and citrus. Nothing overly complex, but pretty nice and balanced.

Taste: Some initial bitterness with mild fruit, toasted grain, and orange rind from the hops. Nothing out of this world, but it maintains a nice balance between the toasted malt flavors along with the fruit from both the malt and hops.

Mouthfeel: Perhaps a bit more watery than it should be, but nothing too taxing.

Drinkability: A solid and very sessionable Amber. One I got back to at a local bar, giving me my micro fix without something that's going to be too much or too highly alcohol after a few.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2008 03:48:31 | More by asabreed
Photo of PhageLab


3.35/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A - Clear brownish red coloration which produced a two tip head. Froth settled to a thin layer and rode the rest of the way down. Lacing was attractive as well.

S - Unpleasant. I don't know what it is, but something smells way off, like old coffee filters.

T - Luckily it tastes a hundred times better than it smells. Slightly bitter, nice malt backing, sort of watery and not too complex, goes down easily.

M - Body was thin, carbonation level was decent, light crisp finish, little to no aftertaste present.

D - Inoffensive, so I'd say it's quite drinkable. Could serve as a gateway to both American craft and English styles. Worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2008 15:04:53 | More by PhageLab
Photo of Lothore


3.8/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Brentk56 for adding this one as an extra in one of our trades!

A- Pours an auburn hue with a nice little eggshell head which dissipates fairly quickly leaving some lacing. Very clear with few carbonation bubbles present.

S- Smell is sweet maltiness with hints of indistinct fruit and spices (maybe cinnamon).

T- Taste is slighty roasted maltiness with a hint of coffee at the back end. A bit of a metallic tinge also reveals itself.

M- Smooth with about medium viscosity and carbonation is just perfect, not too fizzy but also not undercarbonated.

D- This would be an easy session beer. Nothing really stands out about it but I enjoyed this brew for its simplicity which is something that seems to be getting rarer and rarer as people are in search of the most off the wall beers possible it seems.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2007 00:22:20 | More by Lothore
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

3.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a nice head that retains and laces well

Smell: Modest caramel elements but not much else

Taste: Starts with a bit of bread and caramel that adds some bitter complexity by mid-palate; after the swallow, there are some earthy bitter tones but the flavors fade somewhat

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A refreshing session beer

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2007 23:31:16 | More by brentk56
Photo of BuckeyeNation


3.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark orange mixed with dark bronze. The good looking head, that's more light brown than beige, is beginning to decorate the glass with an eye pleasing amount of lace. It's hard to tell without smelling or tasting it, but by the looks of things, this amber ale is really a brown. And an attractive brown at that.

The nose is darker than an amber and lighter than a brown. As far as I'm concerned, those styles belong on the same continuum anyway. By using caramel malt and chocolate malt (in addition to pale and Munich), SHB has pushed the beer into the latter style. I smell toasted bread and a hint of Munich earthiness. No nuts and no cocoa.

I'm not immediately bowled over, but... not bad... not bad. Neither of the two mentioned styles impresses me in most cases, so a beer that is, essentially, a hybrid of them isn't about to. At least the brown ale character that was virtually absent in the nose has been found on the taste buds.

The use of Munich malt gives 'Amber Ale' a sort of Oktoberfest vibe if we want to confuse things even further. Never mind that this is an ale. An earthy, brown bready maltiness is well balanced by a fruity, spicy hoppiness that is more prominent than expected. Perle were used for bittering (a success) and Fuggles for aroma (not a success).

While far from a standout, the mouthfeel does what it needs to do. It's light-medium with an amount of carbonation that doesn't call attention to itself.

Why Starr Hill Brewery chooses to call this brown ale an amber ale is a mystery. I guess if someone buys it once and likes it, they'll buy it again, no matter what it says on the label. I like their Jomo Lager better, but this one is a decent little drinker if you aren't expecting the moon and the stars.

Serving type: bottle

09-06-2007 12:43:43 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of bjohnson


3.03/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Starr Hill calls this an amber ale. BA calls this an english brown. what gives?

Pours a clear darker amber color with a thin one finger white head that dissipates rather quickly. No retention. Yup...definitely a brown ale. Not sure why Starr Hill calls this an amber--interesting. Maybe they labeled the wrong beer? Anyways...Caramel aroma with a huge grassy hop notes. The smells grows on you as it warms.

Brown malt with a nice sweet caramel coating. Slight bitterness follows the initial malt notes. Hops are noticeable in the bitterness and also in the drier finish. Slight ash notes. Subtle fruit notes in the finish appear as it warms up a tad. A bit thin on the palate--it goes down pretty quickly. Nice and light making it a very easy drinking brew. I could see this being a bit better on tap.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2007 00:24:16 | More by bjohnson
Photo of stonewall2


3.63/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm a noob.

Bottle is freshness dated for June, so we are OK there. Citrus and malt nose. Color is medium / deeper ...amber. Very little reddishness.

Well balanced taste, nothing screams "Me! Me!". I taste malt and very little hops (n.b., I am a hophead big time.) Very nice easy dryness on the end. Flavor continues to deliver for a few seconds if you hold on to it, and this is a characteristic I learned to prefer from my wine days. Leaves my mouth feeling fresh, not wiped out like the hoppy beers I prefer. I don't taste alcohol at all.

This is a very drinkable ale for those who like more than a thin American lager. Not exactly the style I prefer, I wouldn't go the extra mile for this, but if I saw it in the display case I would buy it. If you like this style this is worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2007 20:57:46 | More by stonewall2
Photo of arguemaniac


3.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The most noticeable thing about this one is a rich and fairly tasty coffee-like roastiness that balances nicely with some of the other sweeter malt flavors and firmly leaves its mark in the finish. Some nice caramel and grain make their way through as well. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2007 23:24:10 | More by arguemaniac
Photo of FuzzyGuy84


3.18/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. Very beautiful red/brown color, though not much of a smell. Taste is very dark, burnt toast undertones come through strongly. Reccomended for a try, particularly if you find yourself in the Charlottesville area, though I wouldn't want to drink it every day.

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2006 18:34:16 | More by FuzzyGuy84
Photo of erkaneva


3/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Interesting beer. Bottled Feb. 2, 2006 so it was fresh.
Tasted at 51 degrees.
A nice dark amber color, nice carbonation. The head quickly disappeared with absolutely no "Brussels Lace." A little flat on the tongue.
The taste is sharp with some lager yeast charactoristics. Good malt overtones and carmel flavors. Hop balance good for the style.

Definately a good beer, I would have another.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2006 00:01:31 | More by erkaneva
Photo of karst


4.1/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After a draft from a cask of Stinky that I tried at Rich O's near Louisville, Ky, we resolved to find this brewery and thank the brewers for their fine work. After waiting for Mark and Matt to arrive at the brewery ( former Cargil food plant on Three Notch Rd in Cozet, Va just west of Chalottesville, Va)

After a tour of the brewery and a couple of photos I headed back to Mid Missouri with a couple of cases - one a fresh bottled 12 pack of Starr Hills amber. The Alström Bros describe Amber ales as a catch all for beer lighter than Dark Ale (amber to deep reds ). Style often focuses on malts hopped from low to high. Expect a balanced beer, with toasted malt characters and a light fruitiness. Ranging from a basic ale, to American ale. Brewers who brew faux-Oktoberfest style beers that are actually ales instead of lagers.

I wanted to emphazie that Starr Hill Amber fits well into that last sentence. The flavor of Munich and a blend of crystal 20 and crystal 60 with 2% chocolate malt combine with the 88% American 2-row and clean tasting American ale yeast to yeild a fine tasting malt base that is topped off with Fuggles aroma hops and Pearl hop bitterness that drys the finish and crystal malt sweetness. Carbonated at about 1.5 - 1.75 atmosphers the head rises quickly and does not linger long. Medium body and crisp tingling mouthfeel similar to a bock. I poured this in a 0.4 L rastal tulip sniffer to concentrate the aroma and let it warm to 50 -55°F. Sunday morning looking into my woods and watching my yellow Lab Daisy sniff new mole hills, with Lynyrd Skynyrd singing "All I Can Do Is Write About It" Starr Hill's amber goes down easy and takes me back to the peidmont west of Charlottesville - wishing I had a 5.15 gallon keg fresh from the brewery ( or the 15.5 if all my roudy friends came over for the session).

Serving type: bottle

04-17-2006 17:50:36 | More by karst
Photo of mmmbeer


4/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz., bottled on 1/6/05 and reviewed on 3/7/05. Pours into the nonic a dark amber/red with a half inch light tan head that doesn't leave much lacing. Smell is buttery with caramel and molasses. The flavors are roasted with molasses and nuts followed by floral/slightly citric hops. The carbonation is a bit prickly at first but becomes smooth. A good session beer - not too complicated yet flavorful.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2005 05:40:01 | More by mmmbeer
Photo of sweethome


3.63/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light brown - darker than most amber beers. Very big malty nose. A hint of smoke, sweet and nutty. The mouthfeel is a little less than what I expected from the nose. Starts out with a fruity character, followed by a nutty/husky flavor. The sweetness comes back with a dried apple flavor, but is finally balanced by a pleasant hop bittering. Fails to integrate well.

I like the beer and would certainly drink it again. It has plenty of flavor (rich malts, a hint of smoke, chocolate, and dried apples). It has potential to be a great beer, just didn't quite come together. A good beer from a brewer I had not heard of previously.

Thanks JG for the sample.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2004 02:11:08 | More by sweethome
Photo of abcsofbeer


3.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber color with a nice tan looking head. I liked the lace that went with it. I passed up a chance to try this on tap, but opted for a six pack and I was glad I tried it after reading a review. Brewed close by to where I live and definitely works better than that other micro brewery in Northern VA.

By the second bottle, I was really enjoying the medium hoppy taste which I think is pretty smooth. I would definitely buy this one again.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2004 16:32:54 | More by abcsofbeer
Photo of WVbeergeek


3.93/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby amber brown with a nice carmel tinged off white head leaves a great amount of lacing. Aroma: Toasted nuts and caramel malts with the addition of a woody herbal tea hop finish here very nice solid scent. Taste: Even better with a sweet upfront caramel maltiness coats the palate and soothes the sweet tone with the a nice balancing bitterness from the hops has an herbal woody tone to it solid brew all around well balanced. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied amber ale nice carbonation nothing bad to say here. Drinkability: Quite the session amber ale just bottled in December very fresh, I could chill with this beer without thinking about it thanks to my roomates Jeff and Dan who brought back a bottle after the brake from skiing trip down in VA.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2004 00:29:17 | More by WVbeergeek
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Starr Hill Amber Ale from Starr Hill Brewery
77 out of 100 based on 160 ratings.