Switchback Ale | Switchback Brewing Company

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Switchback AleSwitchback Ale

Brewed by:
Switchback Brewing Company
Vermont, United States | website

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

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.

Added by kaszeta on 08-06-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 140 | Ratings: 752
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.

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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.

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Photo of Ezone024
3.84/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured on tap a pale golden color with 1 inch head that held an aroma of sweet grass and pale hops.

Light bodied Pale ale that was tasty from front to back, it has a slight grassy taste that is then taken over by a crisp hop finish.

Very drinkable you can guzzle down a bunch of these and now even know it, the ABV is unknown but it has to be relatively low. These seems to be most burlingtonites go to brew.

Must try when up north

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Photo of VTaler
3.72/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Ri Ra's Irish Pub in Burlington

A: Sunburst color with nice white head that leaves good lacing

S - Lemon and orange comes up first. Little bits of yeast come up next.

T: citrus and slight honey flavors. Followed by a malt backbone. Overall a very balanced beer. Very drinkable for alot of people. Tastes more like a fruiter belgian whit bier.

M - medium body with medium carbonation

D - very drinkable.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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Photo of ThirstyBird
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap at The Tap Room in Brattleboro VT

A - Slightly hazy honey color. Slightly off white head that falls to a ring.
S - Some sweet malt, honey.
T - Sweet light malt up front, honey then a little hop bitterness.
M/F - Lightly carbonated. Smooth with a light/medium body.
D - Easy drinking. A good go-to beer when in VT.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.45/5  rDev -2.3%
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.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.31/5  rDev -6.2%
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.

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Photo of strengthdoc
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I have had this around many places in the Killington, VT area, but never rated it. I got a pint on tap at Peavines restaurant in Stockbridge, VT. The color was light copper. The aroma was very mild citrus hop. The mouthfeel was medium and typical for a pale ale. The first taste was mildly sweet with a touch of honey, but became mildly hoppy and finished slightly bitter. This is a good session beer, I had 2 at dinner with a mushroom swiss burger and it was a great combination.

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Photo of TheRowan
3.66/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Big and bold looking. Golden color and 1 and a 1/2 finger head. To start looks very active.
S: Sweet and hopy but nothing to overpowering.
T: Good. Not your average beer and not a big as it Looks. Sweet but not to much. Balanced throughout like hot fresh bread.
M: Good and active in the mouth. Carbonation is right on and the aftertaste is great.
D: This beer is right on the edge of being refreshing. It is light but not quite a summer beer. Great for a keg party! i don't know many people who don't like this beer. Solid Vermont beer and it is now common place in Vermont bars! TAKE THE TOUR! really good people who work there and they let me try the porter witch is a great beer as well! Every Saturday 1 pm!

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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!

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Photo of shanem
3.63/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Cloudy unfiltered golden color with inch of light head

S: Slightly sweet with a bit of yeast and slight bit of hops, nothing overpowering

T: Has some hops and sweetness with a slight fruity/citrusy note. Crisp though

M: average, looks heavier than it ends up being

D: a very drinkable pale ale. This is one I commonly reach for when in the rare mood to not go for the darkest beer available

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Photo of Brad007
3.47/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

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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.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a nice dark golden/amber color with about an inch of foam. Nice looking pour.

Smell is malty sweet, wee bit of hops and some familiar butteriness.

Tastes very solid for a pale ale. Its very balanced between malt and hops with a slight bit of a citrus finish. I definitely taste some butteriness (ringwood?) but not a whole lot and it seems to give this one more character.

Its a bit creamy and very drinkable. Great pale ale on draft up here in Vermont.

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Photo of aerozeppl
3.36/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Super cloudy. Almost like a wheat beer.

S: Very cidery. Balanced out a bit by the malt.

T: Very mild. Bitter. Tons of malt to balance it out but still has that cidery taste.

M: Almost a creamy mouthfeel. The best part of this beer.

D:Super easy drinking. Good everyday I don't want to think about it beer.

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Photo of mshallah
3.35/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

When this brew arrived at the table the first thing I noticed was that it is an unfiltered beer. Usually a good thing right? This is probably the cloudiest beer I've had served on-tap. The smell is very subdued. The taste is similar to some pale ales with a malt-hop combination in balance producing an easy to drink but unremarkable brew. One flavor standout was a sour note. I'm not talking Belgian sour, just a slight but noticeable sourness to go along with the mild sweetness and mild hop presence. It went well with food because it did not overshadow and seems a beer one could drink all night because there is nothing offensive about it. I would not seek this out,but I also would not turn it down if offered.

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Photo of thekevlarkid
3.75/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

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Photo of deanhead
3.54/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I enoyed this beer on tap from JD McCliments in Putney Village. It's a terrific little place .

We sat at the bar and ordered wings and beer.
The beer arrived in a pint glass, and exceptionally cloudy. This beer is clearly unfiltered. I'm an avid homebrewer and my unfiltered beer has more clarity then this stuff. While it certainly was a tasty beer, it was also without a doubt occluded.

It had a mild head which reduced to a lace of bubbles on the glass.

It is a slightly sweet well balanced ale with no real hop standout, aside from slight citrusy hop notes.

Light to medium body drinkable beverage. It certainly struck a cord with this unfiltered delight. Just wish I was more prepared.

How about cold conditioning this beer guys?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 140 ratings.