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Switchback Ale - Switchback Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Switchback AleSwitchback Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

129 Reviews
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Reviews: 129
Hads: 697
Avg: 3.51
pDev: 13.68%
Wants: 14
Gots: 126 | 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: 129 | Hads: 697
Photo of Drunkelstiltskin
4.52/5  rDev +28.8%
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 -0.9%
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 +14.8%
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 +10%
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 +6.3%
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 +17.4%
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 -10.8%
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 -3.7%
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 -13.7%
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 -12.3%
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 -13.1%
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 -25.1%
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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Photo of papat444
3.09/5  rDev -12%
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.

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Photo of Jayli
3.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 12/5 at Sunset in Stowe, VT
Served in a pint glass

A: This beer pours a hazy copper, burnt, orange color with a 1/2 inch of white head. Head recedes quickly leaving spotty wispy lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is pale malts, touch of caramel, with some light citrus notes.

T: Taste starts with a light malt flavoring before caramel notes come in and fill out the middle. The finish is orange peel and grapefruit, leaving a slightly sweet, slightly bitter aftertaste.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, crisp at first before becoming oily with a sticky finish.

O: Goes down ok, somewhat tasty, not too filling, low kick, ok representation of style. Not a bad beer, but I would seek out others first.

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Photo of berliner07
4.12/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
3.31/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Cloudy, light brown/yellow color with a thin layer of white creamy head. Retention is good. Aroma is light. Lightly toasted malts and a combination of fruity hops and yeast. Toffee and light toast malts immediately on the tongue. A lot of residual sugars in this one. Faint amounts of grapefruit and oranges. The hop flavor combinations are good but lack luster at the same time. It feels like it could be huge. The finish is surprising when it comes to the hops. Turns to the earthy/hay side but the fruity yeast and sweet toffee malts are still kicking around to the end. Drinkable beer. I would go back to it when visiting VT and NH.

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Photo of MrELovesBeer
3.43/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well, the wife and I moved to VT and the beer that Burlington-ers love on draft is Switchback...cause you can't get it in bottle. One of my colleagues put it best - it's not hoppy; it's not bitter; it's not strong...it's middle of the road. That can be a good thing but honestly, I'm more for an ESB or a nitro-ale like Wells or Old Speckled. That said, i had this with some mexican food and it was a pretty solid pairing. Non-offensive.

---Rated via Beer's Advocate for iPhone

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.56/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

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Photo of plaid75
3.33/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of harsley
3.9/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

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Photo of tigg924
3.03/5  rDev -13.7%
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.

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Photo of jneiswender
3/5  rDev -14.5%
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.

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Photo of BigCheese
3.73/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at hotel.

Cloudy in appearance, left loads of lacing and maintained a head throughout, rusty amber in color.

Taste is very full bodied, great balance of bready/molasses malts and subtle hop bitterness, some citrus too. Nothing earth shattering but very full flavored and really one of the most well balanced beers ive had. Quintessential representation of style.

This beer was quite heavy. Would make an excellent food beer. Or sipper. Very creamy, lush and rich, a quality brew.

I'm glad I tried this.

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Photo of EoCahill
4.32/5  rDev +23.1%
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?

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Photo of Rifugium
3.38/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
80 out of 100 based on 129 ratings.