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Switchback Ale - Switchback Brewing Company

Switchback AleSwitchback Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

451 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 451
Reviews: 108
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 13.13%

Brewed by:
Switchback Brewing Company visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: kaszeta on 08-06-2003)
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Ratings: 451 | Reviews: 108 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

2.73/5  rDev -23.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-17-2008 00:09:29 | More by Sammy
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tap: Poured a hazy amber color ale with a medium foamy head with OK retention and some lacing. Aroma of citrus based hops with some light caramelized malt. Taste is also dominated by citrus hoppy notes with light bitterness notes and some light caramelized malt notes. Body is about average with good carbonation. No major complexity with average hops profile but good drinkability factor.

Serving type: on-tap

07-08-2013 17:46:04 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of StonedTrippin


3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i feel like this beer is everywhere in the northcountry now, despite being newer right? it pours almost clear pale ale looking darker than golden color with a better than average white head thick as cool whip. smells like a pretty standard pale ale, with some pine in the hop profile, but generic otherwise. flavor is beautifully balanced but kind of basic. lots of hop character leveled out by a surprisingly sturdy malt body. i love the quick bitter finish too. the mouthfeel is fine, nothing special, perhaps a touch overcarbonated, but nice full medium body on it. overall im afraid of its pandemic spreading, but it tastes pretty good, especially ice ice cold. somewhere between a B and a B+

Serving type: on-tap

06-15-2012 03:32:50 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of Rifugium


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

First had: on tap at The Tavern at the Essex, Essex Junction, VT

Poured a light, slightly hazed, golden brown with a small head, that all but disappeared after a few minutes. Decent balance of malts and hops in the nose. Sweet and bready on the tongue, with citrus hops sneaking in about mid-drink. A decent brew, light-medium mouthfeel, and easily drinkable, but not too distinctive.

Serving type: on-tap

07-03-2011 16:45:52 | More by Rifugium
Photo of ppoitras


3.1/5  rDev -13.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-08-2013 22:15:16 | More by ppoitras
Photo of weeare138


3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-20-2005 19:22:44 | More by weeare138
Photo of plaid75

New York

3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at a waterfront bar, adjacent to the ferry terminal, Burlington, Vermont.

Poured a medium copper hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured soft malts and a light grassy hop.

The taste was balanced with round malts and caramel in the front and a utilitarian grassy hop on the back end.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness.

Overall an average ale experience. Certainly servicable but otherwise uneventful.

Serving type: on-tap

09-06-2011 16:02:05 | More by plaid75
Photo of Brad007


3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy blondish amber color with a one finger head.

Aroma is full of a decent amount of malt and hops. Somewhat fruity.

Taste is smooth with biscuit malt and some hops upfront. A bit sweet as well.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering hops and malt. Smooth. Goes down well.

A decent, middle of the road ale. Not much to write home about though.

Serving type: on-tap

03-15-2009 01:29:42 | More by Brad007
Photo of smakawhat


4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-07-2012 18:58:36 | More by smakawhat
Photo of GarthDanielson

North Carolina

3.55/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured on-tap into a pint glass, the beer was a dark, cloudy brownish-tan coloring that is hazy enough to be completely opaque. There is a slight head to the brew that is little more than a film as you drink. The beer has a well blended nose, with characteristics of malt, nut, and slight chocolate sweetness. The beer's flavors are toasty, with nut and butter sweetness throughout, and come citrus highlights. Flavors tend to be a bit of a muddled mess, but tasty. The aftertaste is semisweet, with a bit of hops bitter at the very end. The finish is a mid-linger, with a creamy smooth feel to it. Interesting brew, but a bit all over the place. I would definitely get it again, though. Good flavors.

Serving type: on-tap

09-16-2011 02:57:00 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of johnnnniee

New Hampshire

3.13/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at sweet water in Burlington VT. Pours an almost clear reddish amber color with a stingy white head that almost made it to the table with the glass. Smells of caramel and brown sugar with a hint of earthy hops and butterscotch. Taste follows the smell fairly well caramel and butterscotch with earthy herbal hop flavor. Medium body with a spirited level of carbonation and a slick earthy mouthfeel. Meh. This tastes like an earthy long trail ale to me. I could drink these, but I wouldn't choose them from the cooler.

Serving type: on-tap

02-27-2012 00:29:31 | More by johnnnniee
Photo of francisweizen


3/5  rDev -16.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-19-2005 20:09:16 | More by francisweizen
Photo of Jwale73

Rhode Island

3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

23oz. pour in an imperial pint glass. Poured a hazy amber-orange with a quarter inch white head that quickly fades into a skim. Nose is mild - some citrus fruit esters and a light wheat character on a malty backbone. Taste is consistent with nose - fairly muted flavor profile with a light astringency coming out, but not overwhelmingly so. Mouthfeel fell between light- and medium-bodied with a pleasant, consistent background effervescence. A decent beer, but not really what I anticipated for the style. Went down fairly easy, but not what I expected for an APA.

Serving type: on-tap

08-02-2009 22:51:55 | More by Jwale73
Photo of puboflyons

New Hampshire

3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the New England Brewfest on June 30, 2012. According to the brewer the ABV on this is 5.0%. It pours a cloudy medium amber-copper with some head. The aroma is of toasty malts, yeast, and sugar. The body was medium. The taste was sweeter than expected with a slight fruity flavor, and a fine hop bitterness ending semi-dry. A nice rendition on this traditional ale.

Serving type: on-tap

07-01-2012 17:38:31 | More by puboflyons
Photo of lordofthewiens


3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Maybe I'd reached my beer limit that day, but I just couldn't get into this too much. Hazy amber color, small white head. Mildly sweet, mildly citrus aroma. Kind of tepid grapefruit taste. Fairly balanced. Not bad, but I'd had some great beers prior to this, and it suffered in comparison.

Serving type: on-tap

07-21-2009 21:03:48 | More by lordofthewiens
Photo of Durge


3.2/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found at the Flat Street Grille in Brattleboro, VT this ale shows a classic yellow-amber with a decent white cover and fair lacing. The nose picks up just minor elements of spritzy lemon wheat, not much more. The taste is full of crispy wheat and toffee, fairly sharp but highly drinkable. A bit grassy in the hop bite with a touch of a dry finish. Lively carbonation for a very sprite feel with a medium-light bodied brew. Some evergreen freshness but generally not much more to speak of. Refreshing but not highly interesting. Quite drinkable though, not a dumper but clearly nothing special.

Serving type: on-tap

06-06-2011 18:28:52 | More by Durge
Photo of tgbljb


3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-05-2007 23:11:58 | More by tgbljb
Photo of tigg924


3.03/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

08-15-2011 13:30:17 | More by tigg924
Photo of NJpadreFan

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Switchback Pale Ale

On tap in every bar/ restaurant in Burlington, VT.

Appearance- Light amber golden brown with a small soapy head.
Smell- Sweet malt, doughy bread, and earthy hops.
Taste- Swet candy malt up front with a nice earthy hop flavor coming through.
Mouthfeel- Nice flavorful body with a light dry bitterness in the end.

Overall- A nice goto beer at a restaurant that carries only BMC.

Serving type: on-tap

01-02-2007 17:19:09 | More by NJpadreFan
Photo of Hojaminbag


3.08/5  rDev -14%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-26-2012 22:12:06 | More by Hojaminbag
Photo of VelvetExtract


3.05/5  rDev -14.8%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-23-2012 23:19:15 | More by VelvetExtract
Photo of Reagan1984


3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on draft at Stratton Mountain. It was listed as an unfiltered ale. Cam in a pint glass with a thin head that vanished quite quickly. No lacing remained. A hazy amber color to the beer.

Very little aroma. What was present was a light toasted malt.

Flavor was somewhat bready with some light toasted malt. There was a herbaceous quality to the flavor. Not a great deal of notable hop presence but there was some bitterness to provide balance. A slight note of yeast.

The body was light and a touch thinner than I would have preferred.

It was a decent beer, but frankly I didn't get a second on early on a Saturday evening. That says something to me. Should to you too.

Serving type: on-tap

03-27-2011 00:27:01 | More by Reagan1984
Photo of donkeyrunner


2.65/5  rDev -26%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-25-2010 21:23:51 | More by donkeyrunner
Photo of thekevlarkid


3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one can be found all over Burlington, is it worth the hype? Off the tap at Drink this beer was a cloudy, honey/amber color. White head, moderate retention and lacing. The aroma was subtle, pale malt and some caramelized malt with faint floral hops. The flavors seemed a little washed out, but nice. Floral hops up front followed by the sweet malt and pale malt backbone and some light citrus hops towards the end. Balanced but uninspired. Finishes crisp and a little sour. Medium body, medium carbonation and a smooth mouthfeel. Very sessionable and one that has a lot of potential to be mass marketed.

Serving type: on-tap

09-20-2008 01:14:38 | More by thekevlarkid
Photo of BeerKangaroo


3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At Bingas Wingas (Yarmouth, ME):

Into a pint glass:

A: reddish-amber body, small white head, minimal quickly sliding lacing

S: lighter fruits through maltier characters, subdued hops

T: sweet through previously mentioned flavors

M: light, sweet malty finish, dry aftertaste, fairly sessionable

O: I liked it, decent for the style

Serving type: on-tap

06-15-2011 18:59:30 | More by BeerKangaroo
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Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 451 ratings.