Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Switchback Ale - Switchback Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Switchback AleSwitchback Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
80
good

129 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 129
Hads: 689
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 12.46%
Wants: 13
Gots: 122 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 129 | Hads: 689
Photo of rregan
2.12/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A- Super light yellowish color, fairly transparent. Not a good head but could have been because of the servor.

S- I think a trained nose would pick out the malt and hops, but frankly it was nonexistent.

T- Solid ale I guess, but nothing special. Rather bland. Below average quality.

M- Pretty crisp and bubbly. Goes down easy.

D- This beer bored me to death. Probably won't have another one. I'd rather have a Bud. (418 characters)

Photo of gfreed
2.26/5  rDev -36%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A nice looking, vapid brew: that summarizes things in a nutshell about this beer and, I'm afraid, about Vermont beers in general. I have yet to have anything from this state that tastes as good as it looks. This one has almost no flavor or aroma that goes beyond soap. Blah. (274 characters)

Photo of JMScowcroft
2.6/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I snagged one of these in the new 1pt 6oz (bomber) bottles since they started shipping these around in stores, they are still selling quite fast but if you are out and about on the delivery day you are almost guaranteed to get one.

Look - Bottle is clean and inviting, good marketing. Pours thick and caramel, frothy, full head. Unfiltered in all its glory. I followed the recommendation of thumb cover and half pour to mix the yeast back in, once or twice.

Smell - Rather plain, unimaginative, lightly scented, surprisingly lacking for what appears to be such a full bodied beer.

Taste - Heavily carbonated, rather dull flavor, not quite as good as it is on-tap. Almost like a light red ale without a full body.

Mouthfeel - Nothing special here, goes down rather smooth with a slight bitter aftertaste. Leaves the palette rather quickly, you will forget how it tastes between sips.

Overall - Not an amazing beer, but not bad, I would say it is about as average as it gets for a craft beer. (995 characters)

Photo of donkeyrunner
2.61/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I hear tell this is a big deal 'round Burlington.

@ Strange Brew, Manchester NH. Hazy, rust tinged amber color. Arrived with a thin skim head that ran away as soon as it reached the table. I suspect a bad pour.

Doesn't smell like anything other than beer glass and my hand. At least it doesn't smell bad.

Taste is sweet munich-y malt with marmalade spice. Doesn't taste of any particular hop but brings forth pleasing hoppy belches. Carbonation is week and juice-like.

After doing some research I find this ale may be more favored by the Vermont crowd for it's sometimes $2 price tag rather than any particular palette appeal. It's not bad by any means but I could find plenty of options I'd prefer more. (709 characters)

Photo of drseamus
2.61/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I had this beer at Mahar's where the bartender described it as a decent session beer. I found it to be an acceptable session beer; lacking in taste somewhat and aroma completely though. It pours a cloudy amber color with a white head. It had almost no aroma at all though, which was a bit disappointing. The flavor had very light malt aroma with no hop aroma with a bit of lemon in the background. It also had a flavor I couldn't exactly place, but might have been some smokiness. It had a light body and fairly low drinkability. (529 characters)

Photo of hurricanes56dan
2.62/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Its hit or miss with this beer. I get it pretty often, and ill have one and it will be good, then ill be at another bar another night and it will be terrible. (159 characters)

Photo of Lawl3ss
2.63/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

(from notes)

Had this twice on tap at different locations in the Plattsburgh, NY area- figured it was worth checking again after having heard good things about it and being disappointed. Both bars served it overly chilled, and I wasn't particularly impressed even when I waited for it to warm.

Look- Beautiful hazy orange-red without much head and almost no lacing, which is possibly due to the overly cold ambient temp.

Smell- Pretty faint. Oranges and pine, with a hint of sweetness and lemon. I actually thought of pine-sol when smelling it, though it is by no means bad, just an odd mix.

Taste- Again, pine and lemon, slight alcohol presence. Finishes somewhat flowery. On the whole, too sweet for my tastes.

Mouthfeel- Some bite off the front, ends watery and slightly acidic. Borderline unpleasant.

Drinkability- Surprisingly hard to put back considering how weak the body is- couldn't shake the watery pine-sol feeling. Definitely not a session beer, though it would probably go decently well with spicy food.

Overall- Alright I suppose, but not particularly tasty and not particularly drinkable. I don't know if the brewery ships their reject batches over to this side of Lake Champlain, but I'd probably pass if I saw it on tap again. (1,252 characters)

Photo of FeDUBBELFIST
2.66/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.5

Bomber to tulip.
Sampled 13APR13.

[A] Pours with a beautiful bright white foamy head, dense but fluffy, and excellent retention. Minutes later a chunky collar remains just below a thick, solid sheet of lace along the entire glass. The body is dark orange with above average haze. I don't love the color of this beer, but every other characteristic is fantastic.

[S] Subdued aroma. Minimal and nondescript hop presence. A strong metallic edge plus a hint of sulfur are noticeable. Lightly toasted bready malts provide the backdrop. The second pour - including the yeast - lends to a more enjoyable nose and introduces a well rounded fruity aroma.

[T] Light front end sweetness. And low bitterness on the back end. The flavor is a little vague from a hop and malt perspective - although it is well balanced. The yeast actually seems to be the most important part of the flavor profile, which adds the same fruit quality captured in the aroma. Mild caramel malts are deep in the background.

[M] Smooth at first with a fine tingling carbonation setting just before midpalate, and increasing in intensity all the way through the finish. The body is medium. The finish is medium-sweet.

[O] The appearance and mouthfeel of Switchback Ale are great. But the aroma and flavor are lacking. And, unfortunately those scores count a lot more. I doubt I would drink again. (1,363 characters)

Photo of Sammy
2.75/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On at 3 needs. Seems to be called Switchback ale, and not this name here. White head and lace and pale colour. Light mouthfeel.Some citrus. Drinkable but minimal for the style.Well malted. Sour finish. Why others want to put this on, I do not know why. (252 characters)

Photo of cavedave
2.79/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours an almost clear light amber with an inch of off white foam for a moment finally a ring and island. Decent legs of lace cling.

Not much going on in the aroma. I catch a hint of some grainy sweet and a bit of herbal and grassy hop in this light strength aroma, not much else. Hope this gets better.

Tastes more like an English Pale, some herbally hop and hints of tart yeast, lackluster sweet, and really not a whole lot to say about this, good or bad.

Low carb., and light viscosity, not a great flavor profile, and not a clean linger nor is it refreshing.

Don't really recommend this beer. It's not that it's terrible, just that it is far surpassed by at least 300 easier to get,less expensive, and better pale ales. (727 characters)

Photo of atlanta
2.82/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This has been a favorite choice the past 2 years on my trips to New Hampshire, but sadly this year, the pleasure has gone. Wanted to make sure it wasn't the fault of the pub, so went across the street to Sweet Tomatoes and found the same thing. My b-in-law is a big fan of this beer and he was also very disappointed to the point that we switched to a different beer. Not sure what happened, bad batch? Dont put it on the market if its bad, your customers should be sure of what they are getting. The great taste and aroma we recall was gone from this sample. Also the appearance was much worse, murky and unappetizing. (619 characters)

Photo of stella77artois
2.87/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Vermont hipster beer. Was hesitant to try it for a while, but decided to this weekend. Had it on tap at a local bar.

A - Dark amber to medium brown, with some haziness to it. A light head that stayed awhile. Good looking beer.

S - Not much, really. Pretty bland. Some hops and cheap smelling artifical sweetener.

T - Tough to describe. A strong, not cheap, yet poor taste. Bitter, tasted more like a lager than an ale. Sort of like an AAL with more flavor. Aftertaste very similar to dirt. Lot's of things going on, but none were very pleasant.

O - Not a horrible beer, but not a beer I'll buy again. Lot's of flavor, but none of it really liked me. Better than an AAL, but that's about it. (694 characters)

Photo of NEhophead
2.93/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A creamy off-white head that fades to nothing after a few moments. A few traces of condensed lacing but not great strength. Slightly thin and watered-down oak in color.

Slightly sweet caramel aroma with hints of lemon and floral hops. For a Pale, the hop character is rather understated in terms of aroma.

Slightly malty flavors; an astringent caramel and toffee sweetness. Touches of floral hops with notes of lemon that fail to balance the maltiness. Rather watery, which provides little to no bitterness. An aftertaste of biscuit and faint citric notes.

A touch lighter than medium bodied; bland and unobtrusive on the palate. Lacking substance.

This one is on tap virtually everywhere around Burlington. I had this at a small bar overlooking Lake Champlain; my other options were bud, coors, etc. This one isn't bad tasting, but it's almost as bland as drinking one of these other macros. (905 characters)

Photo of jneiswender
3/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this beer on tap at biedermans in Plymouth new Hampshire. Served in a pint glass cool.

A.off white head...murky amber body.

S. Sweet somewhat juicy fruit....

T. Fruit stone....jolly rancher like

M. Medium slick

D. Kind of overrated. People really build this beer up. It's good and I will have it again but not all that. (328 characters)

Photo of francisweizen
3/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Another $2 special around Burlington town. This one is just a simple pale ale and I really prefer to go with the shed or rock art ones instead. This is a light amberish colour with a small off-white head. Aromas are pretty straight forward malts and hops, with a bit of doughiness from the malts and a subtle spiciness from the hops. Taste follows suit with nothing strange going on. Just a good ole' pale ale here folks. Mouthfeel is medium-light and drinkability is average. Not bad, not amazing, but decent. (510 characters)

Photo of tigg924
3.03/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on tap in St. Johnsbury

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, dark amber in color, clear, high carbonation

Smell: earthy hops

Taste: earthy hops and light caramel malt

Mouthfeel: medium carbonation, medium bodied, bitter with a touch of sweetness

Overall: This strikes me as an average hoppy amber. This is not a bad beer and certainly worth a try for hopheads. However, I have heard fanatical things about this beer and it just left me wanting a bit more in the taste department. (478 characters)

Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.03/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from tap into standard pint glass at Monopole, Plattsburgh, NY.
Pours a hazy brownish orange with not much head.
Smell is almost void of any really big aroma..just smells malty.
Taste is weak, bready, and overly malty; especially for a pale ale. There is very little hop flavor.
Overall, I am very disappointed with this brew. I had hig hhopes, but this was your regular run of the mill APA. If I had in a bottle, I may have said "would like to try on tap", but since I actually had the tap, I will probably not get again. (530 characters)

Photo of Brenden
3.05/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I wouldn't call this a reddish-amber, per se, though it does achieve amber. It's clear with a bit of brightness to it. The head is a sudsy white one that falls somewhat quickly but leaves bubbly foam on top that translates in the lacing.
This is one of few beers that I can say is just kind of beer. I figured what friends who weren't into beer were saying when they made that claim, and now I understand it. There's moderate aroma and flavor, a bit of leaf with some toast, a bit of fruit underlying.
It is smooth in its light body with a soft, fluffy feel. Crispness is even, not too hard or too soft. What it gives up in body it makes up for in its smoothness and a bit of depth. (688 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.05/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Pours a cloudy orange color. No head with no lacing. Bubbles can be spotted through the relatively light haze.

S-Light and sweet. Not much to inspect here. Not much hop in the nose. Just a sweet, simple, and soft aroma.

T-Just like the nose. Sweet first and foremost. Honey-like malt. A bit bready. Light nuttiness. Not much hop again.

M-Light with good carbonation. Smooth but not very crisp. Sessionable feel.

O/D-Was not enamored with this beer. Too boring for me. Sweet and forgettable. (496 characters)

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.08/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Switchback Ale is a cloudy orange color, with an off-white head that has OK retention, but manages to leave some solid lacing behind.

Some fruity, spicy hops are paired with a pretty good sized malt backbone.

A bite of hops come through up front, with citrus and other fruits. More fruit flavors follow, and they seem to be a mix of hops and characteristics from the ale yeast. The finish is bread and caramel malt.

Moderate in both carbonation and body.

Switchback Ale is a serviceable APA that you can find all over the place in VT. Not bad. (547 characters)

Photo of papat444
3.09/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at our hotel. One of 3 taps there (the others being Bud Light & Otter Creek Porter).

Appearance: Very generous, creamy head. Chilled haze, body orange-amber. Thick lacing all around.

Smell: Citrus rinds & grassy hops.

Taste: Very grass-like, vegetal hops and the flavor is just ok.

Mouthfeel: Bitterness is a bit off though the feel is refreshing and the body is avearage.

Overall: Disappointing a bit as i know what a pale ale can be. (456 characters)

Photo of koutkid41
3.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Golden amber color with a decent white foam head. There is some lacing.

S: Not really smelling much in the way of hops, very bready and malting on the nose. Reminds me of a German Lager in aroma.

T: Tastes alot of bread and caramel malts again reminds me alot of a German lager. Slight citra taste. Although the taste is not very prominent.

M: Leaves a nice clean slightly bitter taste on the palate. Good carbonation

D: Easy to drink, lighter on the flavor and aroma then I'm used to in a Pale Ale. (509 characters)

Photo of argock
3.1/5  rDev -12.2%

Served on-tap in a plastic Shaker pint at Ken's Pizza (Burlington, VT).

A: Washed out amber-light brown with a short-lived beige 1-finger head that leaves no lacing. (3.0)

S: A bit of sweet caramel malt and herbal/earthy English style hop notes but really nothing providing much inspiration (3.25)

T: The flavor lands with about as much of a thud as the aroma -- some unassuming one-dimensionallight-to-medium caramel maltiness with some herbal-earthy-lightly haylike/tealike hopping. No off-flavors or yeast character, just not a lot of character overall. (3.0)

M: Smooth and easy to consume with low carbonation and light body. (3.25)

O: A completely forgettable beer. (676 characters)

Photo of mountsnow1010
3.11/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes. On tap at Sugarbush base lodge.

A - Looks like I was poured a Boston Lager.
S - Smells like an adjunct lager with a more hops added.
T - Hoppy PBR with bonus off-flavoring. It was fine but it wasn't the most pleasant beer I've ever had.
MF - Clean. Good for post skiing.
D - Could drink a lot but due to flavor wouldn't. (334 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
3.12/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

22oz bottle purchased as a single from somewhere in the Middlebury/Burlington area.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" light beige head over the clear golden amber brew. Head holds on well, with average lacing. It should be noted that there is a lot of sediment in the bottle, which I did not roughly pour into the glass. Aroma is earthy yet balanced.

Taste is pale malt sweetness, balanced with earthy hops bitterness. Mouthfeel is a touch rocky, with drinkability being just okay. Something just seems a bit off to me. (539 characters)

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 129 ratings.