Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Starr Hill Amber Ale | Starr Hill Brewery

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
99 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Starr Hill Amber AleStarr Hill Amber Ale

Brewed by:
Starr Hill Brewery
Virginia, United States

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bierman9 on 07-04-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 99 | Ratings: 163
Photo of kylehay2004
3.35/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thin head on a hazy amber with a golden hue body. Some lacing. Sweet caramel malts and orange peel citrus aroma. Flavor is very sour distracting from the other notes which are mostly citrus, wood and caramel late in the finish. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Too sour. May have been a bad bottle but I bought it from the cooler at the brewery so I really home not.

 371 characters

Photo of brentk56
3.41/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a nice head that retains and laces well

Smell: Modest caramel elements but not much else

Taste: Starts with a bit of bread and caramel that adds some bitter complexity by mid-palate; after the swallow, there are some earthy bitter tones but the flavors fade somewhat

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A refreshing session beer

 410 characters

Photo of oberon
3.56/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at NOMA in W-S,poured a clear darker shade of amber with a clingy 1/2 finger slight off white head.Clean aromas,mainly slightly roasted malt and caramel sweetness but its light and fading,flavors are toasty and lightly sweet with caramel and grain sticking out most.Its a basic amber but it is done well,not bad and quaffable.

 333 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A clear, very dark amber/copper body is capped by a short lid of off-white foam that drops shortly and leaves little lace (but that could have been due to a dirty bar glass). The nose is restrained with a delicate maltiness and light touch of grassy/floral hops. The medium body combines with a crisp, very fine carbonation that tickles the tongue. Initially, delicate malt mingles with some spicy hops in the flavor. As it warms in the mouth, however, a sweetish and toffee-like malt becomes unveiled before its solid bitterness overcomes it in the swallow - leaving it dry with a light touch of spicy and herbal hops, gently toasted biscuity/caramelish malt, and lingering bitterness. Very nice.

 697 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.41/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark orange mixed with dark bronze. The good looking head, that's more light brown than beige, is beginning to decorate the glass with an eye pleasing amount of lace. It's hard to tell without smelling or tasting it, but by the looks of things, this amber ale is really a brown. And an attractive brown at that.

The nose is darker than an amber and lighter than a brown. As far as I'm concerned, those styles belong on the same continuum anyway. By using caramel malt and chocolate malt (in addition to pale and Munich), SHB has pushed the beer into the latter style. I smell toasted bread and a hint of Munich earthiness. No nuts and no cocoa.

I'm not immediately bowled over, but... not bad... not bad. Neither of the two mentioned styles impresses me in most cases, so a beer that is, essentially, a hybrid of them isn't about to. At least the brown ale character that was virtually absent in the nose has been found on the taste buds.

The use of Munich malt gives 'Amber Ale' a sort of Oktoberfest vibe if we want to confuse things even further. Never mind that this is an ale. An earthy, brown bready maltiness is well balanced by a fruity, spicy hoppiness that is more prominent than expected. Perle were used for bittering (a success) and Fuggles for aroma (not a success).

While far from a standout, the mouthfeel does what it needs to do. It's light-medium with an amount of carbonation that doesn't call attention to itself.

Why Starr Hill Brewery chooses to call this brown ale an amber ale is a mystery. I guess if someone buys it once and likes it, they'll buy it again, no matter what it says on the label. I like their Jomo Lager better, but this one is a decent little drinker if you aren't expecting the moon and the stars.

 1,746 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.87/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours out a clearish, light amber-brown body with a thin, wispy, bone white head.

Smell: Nose of toasted bread crusts lightly sprinkled with brown sugar. Minuscule notes of fruit and spice.

Taste: Lightly toasty, sweetish malts yield to a small hint of orchard fruit and a slight minerally tone. Pint-sized pinch of brown sugar. Modestly spicy hops with just a bit of complimentary bitterness. Somewhat crisp, drying finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: A nice, light ale that makes for smooth, easy drinking and one I could probably down a fair amount of in a sitting.

 620 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.33/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

One of the last vestiges of my time in NoVa. It pours a clear straight amber (shocker) topped by nearly a finger of light ecru foam. The nose comprises light caramel, buttery biscuits, and a light vein of orange-y citrus hops. The taste waters down these elements and meekly tries to up the hop ante near the finish. What started out as a nice bit o' malty goodness falls into unbalanced disarray. Shame, really. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta dry finish. Overall, an okay amber, nothing all that special, but easy enough (and readily available enough back in its homeland) to allow it to be thrown back pretty easily.

 707 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.92/5  rDev +16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby amber brown with a nice carmel tinged off white head leaves a great amount of lacing. Aroma: Toasted nuts and caramel malts with the addition of a woody herbal tea hop finish here very nice solid scent. Taste: Even better with a sweet upfront caramel maltiness coats the palate and soothes the sweet tone with the a nice balancing bitterness from the hops has an herbal woody tone to it solid brew all around well balanced. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied amber ale nice carbonation nothing bad to say here. Drinkability: Quite the session amber ale just bottled in December very fresh, I could chill with this beer without thinking about it thanks to my roomates Jeff and Dan who brought back a bottle after the brake from skiing trip down in VA.

 758 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.72/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to hwwty4 for this!

Pours slightly hazed orangeish to copperish amber, with reddish hues and a thin tan head that diminishes to lasting wisps. Web-like lacing sticks.

The smell is of an "Irish red" caramel-candyish maltiness with light toast and a hint of citrus/pine and tea-like spiciness. Mild, but pleasant enough to give it the higher of two scores I had in mind for it.

The taste is malt-accented, sweet, again - in a "red" type. A touch of herbal/floral, tea-like hops and light roast give it a balanced finish.

It has a medium to medium-high carbonation level. Pretty smooth. It does have some watery spots.

An easy-drinking, malt-accented but with a balanced finish, ale.

 692 characters

Photo of smakawhat
2.38/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Big soap four finger light brown head that falls normally. Body contains a clear Indian Red color. Retention on head is pretty solid and provides some lacing and stickyness. Some carbonation from the bottom but also the body is slightly cloudy.

Smell. Not good. It smells like rotting grain and stomach bile (sorry it smells like vomit). Hey I am trying not to be graphic just honest, that is exactly what it smells like. Seriously it's not good, I hate sticking my nose in this trying to find something else, it just gets worse.

Taste is strangely better. In fact it's almost actually feels like a gargantuan improvement compared to what is on the nose. Small malt/bread chew in front. There is some average body to this and a very faint sweet almost caramel. Bizzare bitterness on this too though. Still it's marginal in taste overall

Nope not having this anymore, it makes me crave Casco Bay RipTide like crazy now...

 966 characters

Photo of tempest
3.23/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

After drinking the Starr Hill Pale, I was disappointed when I tried this beer. As flavorful as the APA was, this was plain. I just found a smooth, dark bread malt taste without much hops or other character. There was a slight caramel note, but this was a very plain beer. Still with the stout and pale ale from these guys.

 322 characters

Photo of Tone
3.47/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, brown color with a cloudy, copper color along the bottom third of the glass. 1/5 inch head of an off-white color. Slight retention and slight lacing. Smells of slight hop, slight pine, and slight sweet malt. Fits the style of an Irish Red Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of slight hop, slight roasted malt, yeast, slight citrus, and some grain.

 406 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: clear amber color with a one finger head that breaks apart quickly. Some spots of lace paints the glass duirng the session.

Smell: caramel sweetness is all that could be detected and was hard to pull from the glass.

Taste: slightly bready profile with some caramel, red apples, and a mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp to start and smooth at the finish. Medium bodied beer. Very brief aftertaste.

Drinkability: decent but not an overly exciting beer. Stick with Starr Hill's Pale Ale instead.

 516 characters

Photo of tone77
3.32/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a bronze color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is a bit mild, some malts are detected. Taste is also a bit on the mild side, malts, some hops, a touch of caramel. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall, while nothing offensive, is kid of a mediocre beer.

 295 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.23/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a brownish red with decent carbonation and good head. A sweet malty smell that is subdued w/ minor hops. More spicey and grainy than hoppy or sweet, and while enjoyable it was rather mild and nothing sticks home. Medium body, smooth, flows down easy. Finishes dry but not overpowering and is an OK beer.

 310 characters

Photo of avalon07
3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a copper color and a slightly hazy consistency. Had a fairly small amount of foamy head and OK lacing.

S: A sweet, sugary, malty aroma.

T: Tasted of malt, grain and caramel - in other words, a typical amber. Not bad, but hardly mind-blowing.

M: A decent amount of carbonation with a fairly dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A decently drinkable beer, but not anything to write home about.

 433 characters

Photo of rfgetz
3.38/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a lightly hazed copper color with little to no head. Scent is rather bland and only hints a malt with more of a dry grainy nose. Taste brings touches of caramel but lacking in aggression and mild for the style, quite a bit of nuttiness and dry graininess, grassy hops on the back end. Medium bodied, slightly creamy and a touch dry for the style. More Vienna lager in taste, scent and feel than Irish Red.

 411 characters

Photo of Durge
3.83/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured a dark brown color, quite thick with a modest light tan head and decent lacing. The aroma shows some chocolatey grass and brown bread/rye. The flavor brings out a charcoal and tangy herbal hops. The body is on the thin side but it is very lively in carbonation and quite drinkable. The carbonation really drives home the bitter "rhubarb" qualities but there is some bready sweetness beneath it. It seems a bit more toward a brown ale than most ambers but it is pretty good and plenty drinkable.

 506 characters

Photo of argock
3.65/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap accompanying dinner (roast duck with raspberry glaze) at C&O restaurant in Charlottesville.
Appearance: Nice head with deep brown color.
Smell: Coffee and maltiness dominate.
Taste: Very mellow maltiness which is met with delicious hop balance which is not sharp but pleasant.
Mouthfeel: Settles smoothly with medium-heavy body and isn't overly carbonated.
Drinkability: Versatile as an accompaniment to a meal or could easily stand alone several times over.

 478 characters

Photo of Bierman9
3.58/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice dark copper color, with a thin, fine, light tan head. The lace left was quite nice! Nose was on the mild side, with some bready malt evident. Body was a smidge less than medium, but nicely smooth, tongue-wise! Tastes evident are malty to start, a touch caramel raising it's head, and somewhat biscuity. A mild hop finish rounds things out. Better as it warms....nice bier! Prosit!!

overall: 3.65
appearance: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 3.5


 481 characters

Photo of blackie
3.33/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: poured into a standard pint, gives a 2 finger khaki head with quality retention and lacing, the beer is a stained-wood brown in color

s: notes of fall leaves, toasted butternut squash, and nutty Munich grain, papery English hops give dried lemon, lightly sweet, a little oktoberfest-ish, on the malty side but pretty well balanced

m: carbonation just under medium, medium body

t: notes of butternut squash and soggy nuts supposedly from the Munich malt, dried leaves, toasted grain sweetness, English hops give a moderate flavoring of dry herbs and a light bitterness, only big detractor is a little butter lingering after the swallow

d: whatever the style is, it's not a bad beer, but I won't likely purchase another

my first Starr Hill, single bottle from Fresh Farm in Hampton, VA while in town working for the week...notched as best by November (2008?)

 864 characters

Photo of Boto
3.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draught @ Cafe Diem: This one pours a darker amber color. Small off-white head, but it left lots of lacing. Nice nose. Caramel malt and some earthy and floral hops. The taste is good. Malty, just a slight amount of sweetness. Nicely balanced and pretty easy drinking. Slight dryness to the finish. Worth checking out.

 317 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
3.47/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear brownish red liquid with a decent light tan head. Drops to islands of foam.
Smell is malt, hops, woody with a light citrus note.
Taste is malt and hops well-balanced with citrus and wood notes.
Slightly warming in throat. Reasonably smooth. A decent brew but nothing great.

 287 characters

Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle pours a hazed copper body that is topped by a medium sized tan head. Good retention and lots of sticky patch lacing.

Aroma is malty toffee and caramel with a spicy/floral hoppiness that is more prominent than expected.

Medium body and carbonation.

Taste is nicely balanced, but on the malty side. Caramel has a slight toastiness. Floral hop bitterness balances well. Clean finish.

A very well executed Irish red ale. Pleasantly drinkable.

 449 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.95/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer arrived at the table a medium amber color. The head was tan, persistent and laced the glass.

The aroma is sweet caramel malt with floral and citrus hop aromas.

The flavor begins with a slight caramel/crystal malt sweetness and then a well achieved bittering component takes over.

The finish is just every so slightly caramel sweet, but quickly fades into dryness with just a very slight bitterness in the aftertaste. The body is medium light.

On tap at the brewpub.

 486 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Starr Hill Amber Ale from Starr Hill Brewery
3.38 out of 5 based on 163 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer FestĀ® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!