Switchback Ale - Switchback Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Switchback AleSwitchback Ale

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BA SCORE
80
good

128 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 128
Hads: 683
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 12.46%
Wants: 13
Gots: 119 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Switchback Brewing Company visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kaszeta on 08-06-2003

Switchback Ale (First sold October 22nd, 2002)

Using only traditional ingredients, Switchback Ale is a reddish-amber ale which is particularly well-balanced, allowing for complexity of flavor coupled with an unusually smooth and refreshing character. Five different malts, select hop varieties, and our own specially cultivated yeast create an ale which leads with hop flavors and a subtle impression of fruit (our yeast's contribution), followed by a palate pleasing malty finish. Our own special process uses the yeast to naturally carbonate the beer, and we leave it unfiltered. The result is a satisfying brew full of flavor with a remarkably clean and smooth finish.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 128 | Hads: 683
Photo of Drunkelstiltskin
4.52/5  rDev +28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Almost two different beers whether had from a bottle or on-tap. This is one of the most unique beers you will ever try! It delivers a good amount of hops, while yet not being bitter in the slightest. It is dark-brown reddish in color, cloudy, and doesn't leave much of a lacing. This is my go-to dinner beer as it's balanced acidity, drink-ability and flavor pairs nicely with almost everything. I'm calling that this beer will gain a staggering, nationwide following in the next couple years, when just a few years ago this beer was only available in Chittenden County, VT. MUST TRY ON-TAP, you will fall in love. (614 characters)

Photo of Chris33
4.36/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Got a bomber from my parents (I live in Ohio now but from Vermont). No date on the bottle but drinking 3/16/15 and was given the bottle around 1/5/15 and has been in the fridge since.
Usually one of my favorite beers to pick up (or get) when I'm back at home. Lots of particulates, which i expected because of the long refrigeration. Still has that very smooth APA taste thats a more hoppy but smooth ale flavor. Can't go wrong with this beer at any point and time. I will always pick up a few bottles whenever I'm back at home. It's as much of a Vermont staple as Long Trail Ale for me. Great overall. (607 characters)

Photo of EoCahill
4.32/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Subjectively, this is my favorite beer. I get a little warm and fuzzy when I think about winter in Burlington, sidling up to the nearest hole-in-the-wall and ordering a frosted pint of this stuff. Heaven.

Objectively, there's nothing obviously outstanding about it. It's got a pretty typical light American ale color to it, maybe some amber highlights; light and palatable foam when it's poured properly; a pleasant aroma that hints at some sweet fruity tones to it, nothing overpowering though. There is just something about that flavor. I'm getting subjective again, but -- It's my beer soulmate.

I suspect they're using some kind of crazy Kolsch yeast, maybe brewing with ale yeast at lager yeast temperatures or something. I'd love to figure out what that trick is so I can brew little batches of it in my kitchen year round. Can anybody help on this? Yeast type and fermentation temperature? (899 characters)

Photo of Bounty628
4.3/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I just got back from visiting Switchback Brewery. Although a somewhat new brewery trying to enter a heavily saturated microbrewery market in Vermont, the Switchback Pale Ale was a solid performer.

If in the Burlington area, I would recommend calling the brewery and scheduling a tour/tasting. Four of us guys went on a Saturday at 1pm and were greeted by 2 of Switchback's employees. The brewery was an impressive picture of where this brewery will likely be in 5 more years. Although the beer is served only in kegs right now, rest assured this brewery will enter the bottle market with great success.

The beer was a rather medium tasting Pale Ale with a taste that was more enjoyable than several other pale ales. The color has a copper/amber color that poured nicely into the glass.

All in all, the brewery experience made my three friends and I yearn for more Switchback while we hung out in downtown Burlington for the night. Every bar in town featured the brew, and the locals seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. (1,029 characters)

Photo of flyfisha2181
4.26/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After a cold day on the slopes, nothing goes down better than a Switchback. It has amazing complexity for a light simple beer!!! A small brewery that has created a large taste. Switchback drinks light while maintaining a full body. The amber hue and fantastic aroma combine to make this one of my favorite beers. A close second for me La Fin du Monde!!! (353 characters)

Photo of notown
4.18/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had at the Outback Steakhouse in Burlington. I look forward to my summer trip to Burlington because it is the only time of the year I have this beer.

From tap, the beer is a nice golden color with a slight cloudiness. Medium bodied, moderate maltieness with a nice hop charactor.

Pairs well with a seasoned steak. (320 characters)

Photo of SunDevilBeer
4.15/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this several times on a recent trip to Sugarbush, as it's available on tap nearly everywhere.

Looks like a cloudy Sam Adams, but that's where the similarities end. A caramel-ish sweet citrus taste up front which gets washed away by the hops at the end with a slight tingle. Each sip leaves you wanting more - quickly. And you can do it too, because the alcohol is left in check. This beer is definitely a drinker, not a sipper, and not one you want to sit and dissect flavors....just drink.

This is a terrific beer to session apres-ski. If I lived in Vermont this would be my go-to beer. (593 characters)

Photo of illpass78
4.14/5  rDev +17.3%

Pint on tap at Flatbread in Portland, Maine.

Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy amber with some orange character. Small white head. Decent amount of lacing.

Aroma: This is a malt-forward beer with some citrus notes and slight hop bite. It has a lot of bready, biscuity presence up front. Also some hints of caramel and earth.

Taste: The taste follows the nose. Very tasty malt-forward beer with a nice citrus bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to slightly-less-than medium bodied. Decent body for a sessionable ale. Very smooth and easy on the palate.

Overall: Very nice beer from this Vermont brewery. I had this with pizza and salad and it was perfect pizza-and-salad beer. Would look for this in bottles if available. Bonus points for being unfiltered - always preferable, I feel. (794 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.12/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap at Burlington's airport restaurant into a shaker pint. From notes. No head given.

With no head given only a small white collar presented. Body color though is a real nice dark gold color with chestnut brown hues. Slightly opaque (mentioned to me as unfiltered) with slow crawling pin head bubbles rising continuously.

Great solid nose on this of toasted grain and soft graham cracker like malts. Faint fruit ester sense of red fruit, and seems to have a good chewy angle, of soft baked bread and cookies. Really dig this.

Taste brings all the nose forward. Chewy soft milk graham cracker malts, cookie dough, brown bread. No major sense of hop angle present or noticeable. Sweet light brown sugar finish also. Very lightly carbonated, good density also.

Overall this was one easy drinking for pale ale, I could see myself finishing off lots of these easily, or perhaps trying to. (897 characters)

Photo of berliner07
4.12/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a go-to when I want a nice, tasty pale ale that is not going to overwhelm. Without filtration, the beer has a lot of fresh qualities to it. The hops are not too much, but they are present on every sip. I would like a bit more bubbles in this. Its borderline flat sometimes. But otherwise a great, great beer. (321 characters)

Photo of Kiviranna1
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very good unfiltered ale. Well balanced flavors and VERY smooth to drink. Good standby anywhere you find it. I'm always looking for it on tap in Vermont (they don't bottle, so you won't find it in-store). I'm never disappointed. Also... don't ignore the porter. Awesome brew. (275 characters)

Photo of spydo99
4.1/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My current beer of choice when taking a pilgrimage to VT. Unfortunate that production does not allow for bottling or distribution outside VT.

Appreance and Taste is typical of unfiltered ale. Smooth. Consistent.

Worth the trip to brewery for company history and fresh sample. (278 characters)

Photo of bishopdc0
4.05/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a big glass (special night at the GLB)

The color is amber not transparent with a nice thick head to start. As I drink lacing forms

The aroma is sweet subtle hops of citrus and a sweet malt very nice

The taste is brilliant start with a soft carbonation a sweet malt comes and reveals a citrus hops mixed with a slight earthiness (342 characters)

Photo of Cavanaghty
4.03/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap

Appearance: Dark Brown color with a small amount of head. Decent carbonation. Slightly off white head.

Smell: Toasted malts and hoppy. Some sweetness.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Medium bodied not a smooth as I had hoped for. Toasted malts and yeast could be tasted with a subtle sweetness. Bitter after taste.

Overall: Good beer. I think I will revisit this beer the next time I'm back in the Burlington area. (419 characters)

Photo of shortkut
4.01/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I purchased a bottle when visiting Vermont a month ago and left it in my refrigerator. I poured it into a pilsner, and when really cold, I would not rate it above a 3/5. I left it on the table for a little while as I made dinner and when I drank it later it was a little cooler than room temperature. The increase in temperature led to a dramatic improvement to the taste and jumped it up to a solid 4/5. (404 characters)

Photo of Alissa2579
4/5  rDev +13.3%

Had this in tap at Generations in Lake Placid, NY. It's a nice light beer that is not too hoppy and subtle hints of fruit. The perfect beer after a day of hiking. Would definitely have again10/5/14 (197 characters)

Photo of Tsmalley
3.98/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very cloudy w/ golden color.
Has a very floral smell and the taste is one of it's own. Hoppy yet smooth, exceptionally drinkable, I used to drink at least one a day and on a cold winter you could keep the tap pourin'.
Lived in Vermont for 4 years and while vt has many beers that are better , this one will always find it's place.
Mentally, It feels like an English pub beer (in england) for Vermonters (aka the right beer to drink with little or no thought to it)

If your in the area, Throw back a switchback. (513 characters)

Photo of BeerNinja007
3.97/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Switchback is enigmatic in my mind. It is pretty ubiquitous in bars, pubs, restaurants in this area, but apparently they don't bottle it; it's only available kegged. It's always called just "Switchback"... no mention of the style or a specific name for the brew. In fact, until I came to post this review, I didn't even know they made more than one beer. I've never seen the others anywhere. Apparently the "Switchback" I've come to enjoy since moving here 2+ years ago is more accurately "Switchback's Pale Ale". Enigma. Anyway, after having this dozens of times, I decided to take notes today.

Serving: a pint of Switchback Pale Ale (AKA simply "Switchback") on tap at Leunig's Bistro in Burlington VT.

A: Hazy orange brown brew, thin creamy white head.

S: Strong mixed citrus (lemon, orange) aroma, good dose of light malts,honey, hint of yeast. Pretty unique, the citrus is almost like Blue Moon on steroids.

T: Very full and well-rounded, no edges on this at all. Full citrus flavors meld seemlessly into a full honey and malt background. Moderately long grassy citrus finish. Sweet, but not offensive.

M/D: Creamy sweetness balanced appropriately by carbonation. Refreshing, finishes light and crisp. Nicely balanced all around, highly drinkable and pretty unique. (1,278 characters)

Photo of kingcrowing
3.96/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is quite a tasty beer, it's got a cloudy medium pale amber color with a nice little head, and some of the best lacing I've seen in any beer! This went the whole way down the pint!
The smell was rather dull, although I was at a restaurant my nose may have been overwhelmed.

Overall it tasted really great, some nice hoppy notes but overall quite smooth, great to be paired with pub food! (394 characters)

Photo of weeare138
3.95/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draft at American Flatbread...
Appears a light gold with a 1 finger white head and scattered lacing.
Smell is of a mix of different varietels of hops and malt and an odd fruity citrus.
Taste is a bit of a weird one that challenges the pallet for respect and it seems to get it. I detect sweet malt, crisp wheat, along with a slight hop finish.
Mouthfeel is crisp, smooth, and medium carbonation that zips to the back of the tongue from the citrusy sweet start on the front of the tongue.
Drinkability is alright. Nice and refreshing with different styles being represented. (582 characters)

Photo of tgbljb
3.95/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served as a orange-apricot colored beer with moderate off-white head.
Smell is predominately malt and caramel with only a promise of hop noted.
Taste is also stong on malt and caramel and the hop is left way in the background.
Finish could use a bit more hop presence to do a better balance for the malt
A refreshing beer, but maybe a bit lacking. (347 characters)

Photo of david_robert
3.95/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New to the beer world from the perspective of drinking things you dont find commonly all over. This beer is my new favorite but like i said im new. It has a fruitier taste then what i usually drink and it was really easy going down, meaning it didn feel like a super strong ipa does. i really enjoyed it. (304 characters)

Photo of Justmalt
3.94/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

crisp, clean taste with dry finish. Shows excellent fermentation. The malt taste is complex with a hint of biscuit. Hops are not over done so the malt flavors come through. This is a malt forward pale ale and it is refreshing. The moderate alcohol level allows one to have a few too. (283 characters)

Photo of timfelix
3.92/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

had this on 2 occasions. First time I did not like it. 2nd time, both my wife and I liked it (unusual). The 1st time it was served at a bar that really goes for ice-cold; so I think the flavor did not come out. The 2nd time, at a different bar, it was served at a cold-but not icy temperature.
It tasted quite good. I never would have tried it again except that the bartender said it was their favorite and offered us a taste.
It has some caramel flavors, some bite from hops and a nice wholesome flavor- perhaps being unfiltered leaves a faint touch of yeast flavor. None of the flavors overpowered.
Overall, good stuff for routine drinking. Could be considered a "session" beer, since it is not too high in alcohol content, and has a balanced but not overpowering, but complex flavor.
If you try it, I'd suggest against drinking it ice cold. (843 characters)

Photo of harsley
3.9/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

People rave about this up in Burlington. When asked at bars if they serve it they say they wouldn't be in business still if they didn't. It talked up a bit before I tried it so I tried to go in with lower expectations just in case.

If I wanted an English-Style Amber Ale, I would order this. Very malt forward with some yeast esters in the mix. I didn't pick up any hops really but I didn't need to, this was a beer highlighting malt. It's well balanced though so as not to be overly sweet. This makes it easy drinking, which why I think it's so popular, and you can drink it all night and not get sick of it.

I wouldn't call an APA personally, it would need many many more hops to come through. But for what it is, it's pretty good. (735 characters)

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Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 128 ratings.