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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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 147 | Ratings: 247
Photo of budgood1
2.23/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

amberish copper colour it is...with a slightly off-white head and thin wisps of lace. sufficiently hopped nose, maybe a bit too much for a supposedly scotch ale? sweet caramel malts come through in the aroma also. upon tasting....throw out the "scottish style" misnomer. it's a somewhat pleasant amber ale and that's all. some sweet maltiness. a strange furry and watery mouthfeel. bittering hops. i'm left with a thin, crisp, spritzy finish that is annoying. another mac's that i might confuse with a lager. nope, don't like it. not even for a session or summer quenching.

 573 characters

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 dgallina
2.45/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce brown bottle marked best-before 09/26/2008.

Pours clear golden tan with a steady stream of bubbles. A finger of head evaporates instantly, but leaves respectable lace. Smells of nutty caramel and copper pennies with some mild herbal hop essence. Pretty thin and lack-luster flavor. A large swallow delivers a chewy taste-free center followed by light caramel malt, more dirty copper, and faintly earthy hops. The body is thin-to-medium and far too gassy. Might impress somebody crossing-over from macros, but it isn't for me.

 535 characters

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.

 258 characters

Photo of BeerIsland
2.7/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is a funny beer. It looks and smells pretty good but the taste is kind of off and there's not too much finish. I expected more from the slightly cloudy amber tone and clean aromas. The malts are a little thin and there's a dry citusy aftertaste. Not the best beer I've had.

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Photo of HardTarget
2.71/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle Inspection: Tells of Cascade aroma hops and a copper ale, no abv, date, etc. Brown twisty.

Aroma: Floral more than citric nose, strong light malt base gives a fair amount of sweetness. Slight peppery note

Appearance: Copper, as advertised, with a good finger of white froth that settles to a quarter finger leaving a good thick lace

Flavor: Mild soapy note to an otherwise solid pale ale. I get a fair metallic note at the end as well. Overall flavor is uninspiring, decent balance but that serves to dampen flavor instead of highlight it. Hops are mild and more bittering than aroma or flavor. Some tea flavor as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation, medium yawn

Overall Impression: Eh. Mild flaws in a mediocre beer. It's more of an ESB than an APA.

This might be a repackaged version of this:

 883 characters

Photo of Cresant
2.79/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic. Dated best by: 52407. Pale amber/copper color with two fingers of cream colored head. Sheets of lace remained in the glass.

Smell was of a faint metallic twang. a bit earthy but overall very quiet.

Taste was hop flavors, pungent, organic. Moderately sweet. As it warmed considerably I noticed a faint tea-like quality. Caramel notes also arrived late.

Mouthfeel was solidly medium in body and carbonation. I end up liking this one more by the finish, however, it is a middle of the road pale ale.

 551 characters

Photo of jackndan
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale: wow, this is one fizzy freaking micro-lager. Gotta call them like I see them: in a blind taste session, this could pass for one of the big three beers, and that is no compliment. Nice enough looking amber beer, with a whitish head, when poured with some vigor. The taste was there, but only after a great while. The initial taste was very carbonated, and I immediately thought of a A-B product. I could tell that the beer had fairly high quality ingredients, but I have to say that the carbonation must be toned down.

 548 characters

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 rocketmotor
2.8/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle, outdated be 5 days.

Ok appearance, light red/amber color with a small amount of haze present. Leaves a nice lacing on glass.

Smells of American hops, woody and with a little bit of sourness present.

Tastes of light malt, hops and woody. The hops are just a little bitter, but plenty of mild hop flavour. Mouthfeel is weak, almost like water to me.

Easy to drink, I can take it or leave it.

 424 characters

Photo of bort11
2.89/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up at Bubbles on North Oak after mowing the lawn all day. It was on sale but looked interesting, worth a shot.

A- 12 oz bottle poured into my Honey Brown "Beer God" pint glass. Big chunky head, about 2 fingers. I had to take a bite out of it so as not to overflow. The beer is a very clear copper color. Not as much streaming in the carbonation as you would think from loking at the head. The head receded after about 5 minutes, but maintained a tight lace on the surface.

S- Not much going on here. Slight hops smell but nothing else.

T- Not much taste either. Cascade hops only come though in the aftertaste. It's not bad, just not interesting.

M- Medium to light. Balanced carbonation.

D- This is a pretty boring APA. It's not really doing much of anything flavor-wise, but it was refreshing after mowing the lawn. This could definately be a session beer, if there's nothing better available.

Edit- I had a few more the next day, and there was some improvement in taste and smell. That first one may have just been off. Still an averqge APA

 1,073 characters

Photo of allengarvin
2.91/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One and a half 12-oz bottles, poured into an English tulip glass.

Appearance: Clear copper color, with a thin head, typical of British beers.

Aroma: Malt is there, with a touch of hop aroma.

Flavor/body: Malt up front, with hop flavor following (more northwestern hops than English, if I'm not mistaken). Finish is dry and bitter. Medium body and carbonation.

This beer does *not* resemble typical Scottish beers. Most have no hop aroma or taste, and finish sweeter. Some have interesting malt profiles, others are simpler and easy-drinking, but almost none have this kind of hop emphasis. As an American amber, it's fairly drinkable, but I'm docking the rating for failure to follow the implied style.

 714 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
2.95/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz from the Coop for about $1.50.. shared with a buddy.. mine from a shaker pint.. listening to Sasha and Digweed Communicate while talking shop.

Very short and shortlasting head... crystal clear orange brew.. not very amber at all.

Bready malts and an abundant citrus hop character.. could use more.

Fruity yeasts and a lite body... lite carame and toasted malts.. cascades I assume.. sorta metallic lingering finish.

good at first, but by the end I came to think that this was simply an average PNW amber.. I remember this beer better than this glass... simply needs a little more of everything.. aroma.. body.. flavor.. sorry.. but that's the way I see it. Still drinkable for sure but not a brew I go for when I want an amber fix.

 740 characters

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

12oz bottle purchased at Huckleberry’s in Spokane for $1.49. No visible freshness date.

Pours an orange/copper color, with a modest white head. Occasional, spotty bit of lace. Not terribly interesting looking.

The nose is of very mild, caramel-ish sweetness, with an equally mild floral hoppiness. Inoffensive smelling, to be sure, but there’s not much of note going on here.

The flavor is one of mild, sweet maltiness, with an earthy, slightly citrusy taste in the background. Not a very memorable tasting beer.

This is a relatively thin-bodied beer, thinner than most ambers I’ve had. The mouthfeel starts out fizzy, then drops off to character-less in rapid time.

This is an inoffensive but otherwise uninspiring beer that I will not feel the need to buy again, unless I come across it at a very good sale price. Sure, it goes down easy, but you’ll forget it as soon as it has.

 899 characters

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"...

 426 characters

Photo of Padron4KM
2.98/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, no freshness date. Pours out sunset orange red with a fluffy tannish head. Lots of sticky lace.

Aroma is mild, lightly caramel, lightly fruity, light citrus.

Body is thin and watery.

Flavor is slightly sweet, caramel with some spicy, citrusy hops.
Finish is decent, citrusy, leaving the lips tingling a bit.

not to shabby.

 349 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
2.98/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

MacTarnahan’s, sounds kinda Scottish I suppose. 12 fl.oz brown bottle with a rather plain looking label that pronounces “MacTarnahan’s Scottish Style Amber Ale”, with the obligatory thistle below it, how original!. On the neck of the bottle there is also a label decreeing that this is “Mac’s 10th Anniversary Bottling”, if that makes any difference.

The beer poured, into my refrigerated glass, with a medium head that exhibited some residual carbonation. For a while, this dissolved Carbon Dioxide helps to stave off the flat, spartan, and broken scum head that soon followed. Shame. The color reminded me of a freshly polished brewing Copper – deep and very clear, a striking appearance that is somewhat unfortunately spoilt by the lack of a decent head. Nose is of malt, but quite restrained, almost feeble, and it did not improve as the beer warmed. Malt is dominant in the introduction to this beer with some caramel hidden in the middle. It does develop a very nice fruitiness in the middle as well, that attenuates to a mainly sweet finish. However, a few seconds after I had swallowed - the bitterness came through in the end to rescue the beer. After a few more mouthfuls, this beer started to grow on me. Average mouthfeel lets it down a bit.

For my liking this beer is just a little too delicate, it could do with a stronger head, nose and finish. Easy drinking though, which helps this beer charm itself into your good books, so perhaps I am being a little harsh.

For me, overall it is "Above Average" – Just.

Would I buy it again?
– Hmmm…. Perhaps. There again, Perhaps Not.

 1,614 characters

Photo of Brent
3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I agree with Dan, this is, at least now, nothing like a Scottish style. Well hopped with little malt coming through and pretty assertive. Not bad, but not Scottish.

 166 characters

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.

 368 characters

Photo of DPMomutant
3.06/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a nice medium amber with a finger or so head that lasts a little while. A little sticks to the side.

The citrusy, hoppy smell is there but very hard to find.

The taste and mouthfeel are more like a watered-down pale. There just isn't much taste there. They need to add some hops to this and sell it as a pale.

It isn't that it's hard to drink this beer, there just isn't enough taste or activity to want to drink too many. Kind of disappointing.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.1/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: This beer was a nice copper color and barely cloudy. A very heavy bead was present for a long time after the pour. A coarse, fizzy head rose up, but it became denser and frothier as the beer settled down. Due to the constant supply of bubbles from below, a thin layer of foam remained on top of the beer for the entire time. There was a touch of lace left on the glass.

Smell: This brew had a well-balanced aroma of roasted malt, cracker, and hops. Too bad the taste didn't match the smell.

Mouthfeel: Almost medium-bodied, but maybe a tad on the thin side. There was a bit of carbonation tingle on the tongue.

Taste: Upfront, there was not much flavor. Just a sour metallic taste. Then in the middle, the hops kicked in to join the aforementioned flavor. Finally, well into the finish, some nut and roasted malt flavors emerged.

A pretty weak brew with not much to offer. Scottish style my ass.

 919 characters

Photo of Indybeer
3.12/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle. Poured a hazy amber with a good size head that slowly receded. Aroma is almost entirely of hops... Very nice! Taste started off slightly malty, with alot of sweetness, and a good hop bite, but it had an almost medicinal lingering taste on the back of the tongue that ruined it. I let it sit to warm up and see if it made a difference but it remained there in the background. Had to pour it out.

 408 characters

Photo of stephendr
3.12/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle- color of medium amber , with a decent eggshell color head - nose of bitter hopps , earthy , citrus , malts , and roasted – taste of citrusy hopps , earthy , slightly dirty , and lime zest - body thin, and with medium to high carbonation – aftertaste of citrus , and tar

 286 characters

Photo of BeerBuilder
3.13/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours to a bronze color with a tan head. The aroma is of caramel malts with a light floral hoppiness. The flavor is of sweet caramel malts with a light floral hoppiness. It is a light-medium bodied brew; smooth and easy drinking. Not a lot to this one, though it would make a good session brew.

 294 characters

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.

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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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