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MacTarnahan's Amber Ale | Portland Brewing Company

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147 Reviews
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MacTarnahan's Amber AleMacTarnahan's Amber Ale

Brewed by:
Portland Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
32 IBU

Malts: 2 Row Pale, Caramel
Hops: Cascade

Still called MacTarnahan's Amber Ale.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-11-2001

For Trade:
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Reviews: 147 | Ratings: 247
Photo of NastyNorseman
3.24/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Thick cream colored head good lacing until finished. A deep amber color, smells of some malt, some hops. Tastes a little weak, something feels lacking here. Touch of hops and touch of malt with a faint caramel addition along with some fruits. Finishes quickly with little left to savor or long for. Lacking pop and uniqueness to make it stand out among Ambers. Light-medium finish a little too sweet for my liking, balance a little off. Overall, nimpressive. Feels thrown together in the kitchen without the necessary, refining tender love and care.

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Photo of chinchill
3.59/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle in Oregon.
Deep amber colored body with an excellent head.
More hops than malts in both the aroma and the flavor. Mildly bitter.
Fruity hops with a faint bready background.
Medium-light body.

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Photo of stevoj
2.64/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Bottle from Albertson’s. Bland and uninteresting. Amber in color with short, dull head. Light malty aroma. Taste is weak caramel malt with a short hops bite and very short finish. Not much remains on the palate. Mouthfeel edges on watery. Pass on this one.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.4/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle, grocery store mixed-sixer fodder extraordinaire, in Sandpoint, Idaho. I get the feeling that this is a brand now sort of on life support, no?

This beer pours a clear, bright medium copper amber colour, with two fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and sort of fizzy ecru head, which leaves some rainforest canopy lace around the glass as it quickly sinks away.

It smells of grainy, lightly crackery caramel malt, slightly sour apples, some not overly aggressive orange and white grapefruit rind, and further herbal, leafy, and musty hop bitters. The taste is lightly bready, grainy pale and caramel malt, weak oily and generic citrus peel, subtle, but pervasive yeast, and more plain earthy, weedy hops.

The carbonation is fairly inexpressive in its wan, and sometimes just gone frothiness, the body a so-so middleweight, and kind of clammy in its dime-store (ok, I guess it's 'dollar-store', nowadays) smoothness. It finishes off-dry, and very muddled in its lingering caramel sweetness, and equally muted bitterness.

Not a particularly engaging or memorable amber ale, especially given the proclamation of Cascade hops being in the mix. Very underwhelming, and hard to get into, once the hops show their lack of vigour, and when the overdose of yeast remnants somehow become the so-called (by no-one) star of the show, it's lights-out time, baby.

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Photo of superspak
3.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, best before 6/21/2013. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep orange/copper color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest, orange peel, caramel, toffee, toasted biscuit, light nuttiness, floral, grass, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of citrus hops and dark/bready malt notes; with solid strength. Taste of grapefruit, lemon zest, orange peel, caramel, toasted biscuit, floral, grass, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness. Light floral/pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, orange peel, caramel, toasted biscuit, floral, grass, light pine, and floral/grassy earthiness on the finish for a short bit. Nice balance and solid robustness of citrus hops and dark/bready malt; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and light-medium bodied; with a smooth, crisp, and fairly thin mouthfeel that is okay. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a pretty solid amber ale. Well balanced citrus hop and dark/bready malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. Could use some more flavor and body, but pretty enjoyable otherwise.

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Photo of BVukelich
3.14/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Rich copper color with a thick head. I didn’t pick up much on the aroma, light floral hop notes. Taste was not overly hopped and definitely not too sweet but a bit thin, watery. Unfortunately, it just across as mediocre at best. Not a real standout in aroma or taste. Incredible lace that absolutely decorated the glass. Mouthfeel was average, light body. No horrible aftertaste but also nothing that pulls you back for another sip. The low abv and average character make it a sessionable contender but not on a regular basis.

 528 characters

Photo of GlennSt
3.71/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a glass mug. It formed a creamy, foamy head but the reddish amber color looked really nice. The smell is balanced but mostly malty, oddly nondescript, although you know this isn't Bud Light; there is some substance. The taste is mostly malty with a slight hoppy bite, nicely carbonated, the way I like it. The aftertaste is slightly bitter but nothing overpowering. This would be a pretty good session beer, depending on the price point. I got it one the cheap and am happy I got to try it.

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Photo of vkv822
3.06/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

12oz : tulip

Clear, coppery orange with a foamy off white head, decent lacing.

Light citric hops backed by caramel, biscuit malts in both the nose and taste.

Medium body, mild foamy carbonation.

I rated this fairly average across the board, because that is what it is. Easy drinking, unoffensive, but also fairly forgettable in this wide world of beers we live in.

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Photo of Murrhey
2.35/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Reviewed live.

A- One finger cream colored head. Mediocre retention. No lacing. Copper color, high clarity.

S- Floral, aromatic hops. Brown sugar. Some light grassiness.

T- Muted hops, coppery flavor with a slight bitterness at the end. Ultimately very standard for an Amber.

M- Aggressive carbonation, light feel with a syrupy finish on the lips.

O- Might be an alright session beer, but not very impressive.

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Photo of lwillitz
3.36/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12-oz bottle into Samuel Smith "Tulip" pint glass

A - transparent amber body under 3 fingers of foamy off-white head; moderate carbonation bubbles

S - prominent Cascade hops; hint of grain in the background; not impressive

T - bitter hops lead into biscuity grain in the middle, grapefruit and pine combine for a dry finish

M - highly-carbonated light body

O - MacTarnahan's Amber is mediocre at best. More substance to the body would help, as would more sweetness to keep those Cascade hops in check. Both the carbonation and the bitterness are unnecessarily high. In other words: more body, less fizz, and more flavor balance would improve this one.

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Photo of MadTown1000
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours from a 22 oz bottle into a 12oz glass. Slightly cloudy golden copper, about a quarter inch of off-white foamy head. Leaves nice lace.

S: Distinctly hoppy aroma, reminds me of an IPA.

T/M: Sweeter, more floral, less hoppy than expected. Relatively thin flavor, not very substantial. I'd almost guess it was going bad, but I had this in Portland, home of the brewery.

O: The taste and mouthfeel are quite disappointing. More like an unrealized pale ale than an amber - little malt, lots of hops, but they just come off flowery. Not awful, but not recommended.

 569 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.35/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at The Wine Corner in Paia, Maui, Hawaii. I picked this one up because I have never seen it in California.

Pours a clear copper amber color with a 3 inch foamy light tan head that settles to a small cap. Thin broken rings of lace line the glas on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, and some herbal and citrus zest hops. Taste is of malt, slight caramel, and more of a citrus zest hop flavor. There is very little bitterness to this one after each sip. The mouthfeel is pretty disappointing with a very watery aspect to it. Overall, this is a pretty good amber ale and I am glad I picked one up but I don't think it's all that special.

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Photo of Nerudamann
3.5/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Look - amber in color, clear, with good carbonation and about two fingers' worth of frothy tan-colored foam that dissipates slowly.

Smell - fairly malty, but maybe with some hints of hops. I almost get a sorghum kind of aroma out of it, but that might be wrong.

Taste - it tastes a little more hoppy than it smells, but the hops still aren't terribly present. There's a fair bit of bitterness, but not a lot of bite. The barely used tastes interesting, but I don't think sorghum was actually used.

Mouthfeel - the texture is more on the watery side.

Overall - not a bad brew, and fairly interesting to taste and think about.

 669 characters

Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.46/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Portland Brewpub.

A - Pours a crystal clear, medium orange with a smaller cream-colored head. The head fades to about half and lingers while leaving pockets of lacing on the glass.

S - Smells are prett mild. Some maltiness is dominate, but some slight hoppy floral tones come through as well.

T - Taste is like a dull ipa, with a roasted malt finish.

D - Good carbonation and average body for the style.

O - Easy drinking amber.

 448 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a reddish amber color. The head was decent but fizzled away after short amount of time. The smell of the beer had a decent amount of malts on the nose. The taste of the beer was grainy and semi sweet. The mouthfeel was pretty good. Overall I found the beer to be kind of the refreshing side, not sure if it's one I need to have again. But not too bad.

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Photo of katybee
2.95/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

translucent light amber yellow, and 1/2' head of quickly dissipating creamy foam tracing the rim of the glass.

very minimal smell, trace hops

mildly pungent dry-hopped taste of peppery cascade hops with light lemony overtones; dry, delicate bitter taste with no real bready or malty tones I could detect. Only very slightly sweet.

Light bodied, tingly

Thirst quenching, but not exactly memorable, nor a beer you'd "sip"...

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Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When I first had this beer I thought very highly of it, when I later reviewed it, I even said that it was the second best amber I had ever had, let's see if it still lives up to that. Pours a pretty standard one finger head, the head is white, with mostly small bubbles, some medium sized bubbles. The head looks like a pretty standard head, not creamy, not frothy, but also not crappy and soapy looking, just standard. It's not hanging around too long, which is too bad, but it's leaving good lacing throughout the glass. The body is a classic amber color, dark red, with slight hints of orange. If you wanted to know what a standard amber should look like, this wouldn't be a bad example. The body is pretty see through for an amber ale, which is disappointing, I know amber ales aren't supposed to be cloudy, but it's nice if they have some stuff floating around in them. Carbonation is medium-high, looks pretty nice though, right around where it should be. Overall the look is good, not amazing but pretty good. Well when I first cracked open the bottle I got a big wiff of hops, but now that I'm smelling it out of the glass, it's hard to pick up smell. I get a small small note of hops, and a little note of malts on the nose. Not the greatest smell because 1) there isn't much of a smell, and 2) malts are slightly more dominant than the hops. Overall not a bad smell, but not much to talk about. Well the first thing I notice is a soapy flavor, and I don't know what's up with that, maybe they didn't clean there bottles very well, I know it's not my glasses because I rinse my glass out with hot water, and that's it. Small bitterness and sourness, but not much hops, the sour and bitter flavors are coming from somewhere else, almost like the beer is infected, no best by date, so I can't tell if it's fresh or not. Just very soapy on the flavor. Maybe a tiny bit of hops, but mostly sour and bitter. Malts are noticeable, but not too prominent. Overall it's just soapy. Is the taste horrible? No, not at all, just soapy...and it's not extremely soapy, it's not a huge flavor, but it's a big enough flavor that it dominates the other ones. I hate giving this beer a 3 on taste, because I feel like I might just have a bad batch or something, but that's not my problem. The mouthfeel is pretty perfect for a amber ale, it's big enough for the style and the carbonation is spot on. Drinkability is a little rough around the edges, just because of the soapy flavor, but overall it's not horribly hard to drink, it's light enough. Overall on this beer....I want to give it a second chance, because I remember it being much better, and I fear that I simply have a bad batch, but I have too many other beers to review. Overall on the beer itself, it's not that great, taste isn't horrible, but the soapiness brings it down for sure.

After drinking more of this beer the soapy taste left and it turned into more of just a watery taste. I guess this beer just doesn't have much flavor. I don't think it's infected at all, it's just not an amazing amber. I think I graded it right after all.

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Photo of hiku7
3.33/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured in a pint glass by an adorable barmaid at Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek, California.

A - Copper pour with a small white head. Not impressive lacing, could be the glass.

S - Mild cascade citrusy hops coming through. Mild maltiness, but not as up front as the hops.

T -Tastes somewhat more like a APA than an amber, with a solid hop backbone. Toasted maltiness comes through as it warms.

M - Somewhat thin bodied, especially for an amber.

D - Light enough to drink a few, but not sure I'd want to.

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Photo of chumba526
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appears light brown color with an off white head.

It smells of bread and caramel malt. I get a mild grassy hop smell as well.

It tastes much like it smells. There is an initial mild caramel sweet flavor. I also get a bit of a nice bread like dry malt flavor. The beer ends with an ever so slight bit of a grassy hoppy bitterness.

The carbonation is medium. The mouthfeel is medium bodied.

The drinkability is quite good it is a very smooth beer. The flavor is quite mild and it goes down very easy.

Overall a slight better than average amber that goes down smooth.

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Photo of bagpiper2005
3.75/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour: Effervescent, medium copper color. Two finger of frothy white head that retains decently and leaves some lacing on the glass.

Smell: Bready with sweet undertones of caramel and pale malt. Some hops coming through as well.

Taste: Follows the nose pretty well. Delicious caramel sweetness in the front followed by yeast and biscuity tones. Finishes up with a light iced-tea bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium with high carbonation.

Drinkability: Smooth and refreshing. Not overly complex.

Final Notes: A solid Amber Ale, and to me more resembles and Irish Red than an American Amber. Regardless, it's a sweet treat beer that would pair well against dessert, and would make a very beginner-friendly beer.

 721 characters

Photo of LazyL
4.25/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I could drink this all day. A new favorite that I found at Pyramid brewing. I had a pint on tap and later found a bomber. Both were great and had the perfect amount of hops that make this ale really bust open with flavour. More hops than I am used to in an Amber Ale, but it really works here and is very typical from a Portland beer.

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Photo of kwjd
3.57/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at a 7-11 in the middle of the night in Vancouver, Washington. This seemed to be the most interesting beer there that I hadn't tried, so decided to give it a try. Pours a amber colour with off-white head. Some mild lacing. Head dissipates eventually, though I was drinking this slower than usual I think. Smells of sweet caramel and noticeable amount of hops. Nice balance of bitterness and sweetness, though it tends more towards the sweetness side as a amber ale typically does. Big carbonation level. Nice enough beer.

 531 characters

Photo of lovindahops
3.28/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ok my first pyramid brewery brew... I mean magic hat conglomerate... I mean NAB offering from the current group

A- pours a light red appearance. Very light, but I like the frothy head

S- bready scents with slight malt and faint, faint hops in the end

T- good emphasis on the malt and spices. Not much going on though other than some dryness

M- creamy and big time carbonated

D- mac isn't too bad. I would like more of a hop presence to keep the tastiness transfer into drinkability though

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine May 2007.

New packaging, new marketing push, same beer. They are not trying to reinvent anything, but rather trying to push a brand that has been around for quite awhile. Most brands in any business are due for this, and now it is Mac's turn. So let's revisit what's inside the packaging.

Exceptional froth forms a sticky, web-like lace on the glass over a stunningly clear amber-colored brew. Lots of citric and floral notes in the nose; mild malt and caramel in the back. A very clean aroma. Perfect smoothness within a moderate body and medium carbonation. Very clean palate with a fluffy character throughout, if perhaps a bit thin. An imploding flavor profile of bread, caramel, malt sweetness, citric-hop flavor and bitterness with a bite shows balance and complexity within an easy-drinking session beer. Finishes dry with a fading flavor of grain and hop.

Beer snobs need to recognize that without beers like this we would still be in the dark ages of beer--retro Lagers would have never become retro and everything would still be yellow and fizzy. A healthy plate of sweet and spicy slow-cooked beef brisket with twice-fried potatoes and collard greens ended up being a stellar pairing--and the bottle of Mac's in the beef made it that much better.

 1,294 characters

Photo of djbreezy
3.65/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a lager glass.

appearance - transparent amber, shallow head with some retention, not much lacing

smell - cascade hops, citrus and dank, resin profile

taste - resinous hoppiness, malt

mouthfeel - light, well carbonated, some hop dryness in the finish

drinkability - light, balanced, decent showcase of cascade hops

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MacTarnahan's Amber Ale from Portland Brewing Company
3.48 out of 5 based on 247 ratings.
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