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Switchback Ale | Switchback Brewing Company

142 Reviews
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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: 142 | Ratings: 757
Photo of poop_brew
3.45/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Had it on tap at a local bar. Served in a 16oz. pint glass.

S - Not a lot going on. A bit of hop, and malt with a citrus. Mostly malt.

T - A light hop with a malty finish. Orange citrus to finish it off.

M - A great mouthfeel. The beer is easily consumed and finishes so smooth.

O - Since I live in the town it all started I think I am over the whole Switchback craze, but if it's on special or a good price it's always worth it. Monday's at Drink they have $2 switchback drafts. Stellar deal.

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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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.73/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Consumed 3/13/13

Appearance: Lightly hazy, copper with some gold and amber highlights - pours from the bottle with some enthusiastic carbonation that forms a big, fluffy white head - fades to a small, fluffy white head, leaves some nice lacing

Smell: Mild, pale malts and some spiciness - clean pale grains, with a some caramel malts as well - some earthy/spicy notes, that seem like they are either coming from the yeast or the hops, hard to discern because this is decidedly not hoppy - some grassy notes, some light sweetness

Taste: Mild, balanced, and very pleasant - clean, grainy, pale malts, with a touch of caramel malts - lightly earthy, spicy - some grassy malts - mildly bitter - lightly bready, like a soft white bread - some fruity esters become more apparent as this warms up, imparting some banana and clove

Mouthfeel: Light, nicely carbonated, extremely smooth, stupidly quaffable

Overall: Solid, best with food

This was one of the first beers that I had on tap after turning 21, and I had it a bunch of times when I was in Burlington. This bottled iteration is very similar to what I remember. Mild, lightly spicy, and good - but not fantastic. It's extremely drinkable and would be better suited to being canned in tallboys. Because it's not like any other breweries do that in that area of Vermont...

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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.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.74/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Yeast was allowed to mix with the beer prior to and during the pour. A medium amber color, with a fair amount of suspended sediment/yeast. A thin light yellow head on top, didn't change much in size, and had just a bit of cling. Smell was slightly fruity, a bit of banana over the undertones of wheat. Flavor was a bit of bitter on the backend, with a slightly sweet grain up front. Felt ok in the mouth, except at the end of the sip, somehow it seemed to dry out the mouth. A bit off putting. Overall, a solid very drinkable beer. Great gateway for macro drinkers.

Bottled 3/13/2013

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Photo of stephenjmoore
3.69/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- Amber colored body with a sticky white head. Tons of lacing all over the glass. Light comes through the body, but there is some cloudiness.

S- Caramel malts, pilsner malts, grainy bread aromas, fresh grass, a hint of citrus.

T- Lots of malts come through. I can taste caramel malts and pilsner malts, but I also get a burnt toast flavor. Not a bad flavor, just very different. Some grassy hops, a slight herbal note.

M- Medium bodied, medium carbonation, drinkability is good.

O- Not a bad beer, but nothing I would seek out. Very interesting malt combination, with little in the way of hops coming through.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.8/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I picked up a bottle of Switchback Ale on a recent trip to Vermont. The beer pours a clear orange/amber color with a small, creamy head on top. The foam fades away quickly leaving only a few spots of lace on the glass. Some sediment at the bottom of the bottle made its way into the beer.

The aroma isn't very strong but has some bready malt, orange citrus and a little grass.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is creamy with moderate carbonation. The flavor has nice notes of bready malt, caramel, and orange citrus. it finishes dry with mild bitterness and a touch of grass flavor. Once gone the citrus and caramel lingers on the palate.

This is a nicely balanced beer that leans a bit towards the malt side. A good session beer that would be great with a burger.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.26/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-hazy amber color with a nice white head and decent lacing

S-mild malt scent, grass, minimal hop aroma

T-malt, light citrus, pine, slight grassy and herbal flavors, decent bitter finish

F-light to medium body with moderate carbonation, crisp and clean

O-an average pale ale, easy drinking

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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.

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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.

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Photo of NiceTaps
3.48/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap more than once on a recent Vermont trip.

A-Hazy, unfiltered golden orange-red with a thick fluffy head and nice rings of lacing.

S- light pale malt, grassy, a touch of hops.

T-pale malt, something sweet, and a touch of citrus hop.

M- It's carbonated but feels thin and light.

O- I wish that this ale smelled and tasted as good as it looked, but it comes up 'light'.

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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.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.86/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.73/5  rDev +5.7%
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+

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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.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.13/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

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Photo of jsanford
3.38/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh growler filled 30 minutes ago.

Pours a slightly hazy orange-amber with a soapy white head that settles to a slight haze and sticky lacing. Mild aromas of sweet amber malt and a bit of herbal, minty hops. Very clean. Malt-forward flavors of caramel and honey with a subdued herbal hop profile. Mouthfeel is smooth, with a medium-thin body and decent carbonation. Overall a nicely sessionable, approachable brew that should disappear pretty quickly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.