Starr Hill Amber Ale | Starr Hill Brewery

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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.

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Reviews: 99 | Ratings: 163
Photo of BeerSox
3.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into nonic.

Clear deep mahogany color with a one finger light tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap.

Lightly sweet malts with touch of brown sugar and raisins.

Delicate malts that aren't too sweet, with some light caramel. Light bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. The finish is pretty clean except for a little bit of lingering malts.

This one seemed a little watery to me. It doesn't have any off flavors or anything like that though. I wouldn't turn one down if it was what's available, but I won't seek it out.

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

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A fairly unobtrusive amber color with nice carbonation and an off-white head with decent retention.

Smell: Toasted grains with some mild fruit and citrus. Nothing overly complex, but pretty nice and balanced.

Taste: Some initial bitterness with mild fruit, toasted grain, and orange rind from the hops. Nothing out of this world, but it maintains a nice balance between the toasted malt flavors along with the fruit from both the malt and hops.

Mouthfeel: Perhaps a bit more watery than it should be, but nothing too taxing.

Drinkability: A solid and very sessionable Amber. One I got back to at a local bar, giving me my micro fix without something that's going to be too much or too highly alcohol after a few.

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Photo of PhageLab
3.31/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A - Clear brownish red coloration which produced a two tip head. Froth settled to a thin layer and rode the rest of the way down. Lacing was attractive as well.

S - Unpleasant. I don't know what it is, but something smells way off, like old coffee filters.

T - Luckily it tastes a hundred times better than it smells. Slightly bitter, nice malt backing, sort of watery and not too complex, goes down easily.

M - Body was thin, carbonation level was decent, light crisp finish, little to no aftertaste present.

D - Inoffensive, so I'd say it's quite drinkable. Could serve as a gateway to both American craft and English styles. Worth a try.

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Photo of Lothore
3.76/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Brentk56 for adding this one as an extra in one of our trades!

A- Pours an auburn hue with a nice little eggshell head which dissipates fairly quickly leaving some lacing. Very clear with few carbonation bubbles present.

S- Smell is sweet maltiness with hints of indistinct fruit and spices (maybe cinnamon).

T- Taste is slighty roasted maltiness with a hint of coffee at the back end. A bit of a metallic tinge also reveals itself.

M- Smooth with about medium viscosity and carbonation is just perfect, not too fizzy but also not undercarbonated.

D- This would be an easy session beer. Nothing really stands out about it but I enjoyed this brew for its simplicity which is something that seems to be getting rarer and rarer as people are in search of the most off the wall beers possible it seems.

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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

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Photo of Rootdog316
3.85/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy, bold amber with frothy head. Malty aroma. Much more malt than hops in flavor with a touch of vanilla. Nice feel and balance. The aftertaste is what impressed me - kind of a burnt chocolate, maybe even smores. Head persisted and left lacing in empty glass. A teriffic ale.

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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.

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Photo of bjohnson
3.03/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Starr Hill calls this an amber ale. BA calls this an english brown. what gives?

Pours a clear darker amber color with a thin one finger white head that dissipates rather quickly. No retention. Yup...definitely a brown ale. Not sure why Starr Hill calls this an amber--interesting. Maybe they labeled the wrong beer? Anyways...Caramel aroma with a huge grassy hop notes. The smells grows on you as it warms.

Brown malt with a nice sweet caramel coating. Slight bitterness follows the initial malt notes. Hops are noticeable in the bitterness and also in the drier finish. Slight ash notes. Subtle fruit notes in the finish appear as it warms up a tad. A bit thin on the palate--it goes down pretty quickly. Nice and light making it a very easy drinking brew. I could see this being a bit better on tap.

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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.

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Photo of stonewall2
3.63/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm a noob.

Bottle is freshness dated for June, so we are OK there. Citrus and malt nose. Color is medium / deeper ...amber. Very little reddishness.

Well balanced taste, nothing screams "Me! Me!". I taste malt and very little hops (n.b., I am a hophead big time.) Very nice easy dryness on the end. Flavor continues to deliver for a few seconds if you hold on to it, and this is a characteristic I learned to prefer from my wine days. Leaves my mouth feeling fresh, not wiped out like the hoppy beers I prefer. I don't taste alcohol at all.

This is a very drinkable ale for those who like more than a thin American lager. Not exactly the style I prefer, I wouldn't go the extra mile for this, but if I saw it in the display case I would buy it. If you like this style this is worth a try.

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Photo of Gitboxer09
4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this beer across the street from the Starr Hill brewery at a wings place in Charlottesville, Virginia about a week ago. I had heard of Starr Hill but did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, as the light brown, reddish ale displayed a nice balance between malt and hop. It hit me first with a hop flavor, then finished strong on the malt side, and maintained nice lacing along the way. Very refreshing, and served as a great session beer as I devoured very unique "pepper and lemon" wings like a hippo swallowing plastic marbles. I would recommend the beer to anyone looking for something relatively light but also interesting, and would also recommend having it on tap if you happen to be in Charlottesville. I hear the brewery has a great music venue as well.

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

The most noticeable thing about this one is a rich and fairly tasty coffee-like roastiness that balances nicely with some of the other sweeter malt flavors and firmly leaves its mark in the finish. Some nice caramel and grain make their way through as well. Recommended.

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Photo of FuzzyGuy84
3.14/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. Very beautiful red/brown color, though not much of a smell. Taste is very dark, burnt toast undertones come through strongly. Reccomended for a try, particularly if you find yourself in the Charlottesville area, though I wouldn't want to drink it every day.

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Photo of erkaneva
3.01/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Interesting beer. Bottled Feb. 2, 2006 so it was fresh.
Tasted at 51 degrees.
A nice dark amber color, nice carbonation. The head quickly disappeared with absolutely no "Brussels Lace." A little flat on the tongue.
The taste is sharp with some lager yeast charactoristics. Good malt overtones and carmel flavors. Hop balance good for the style.

Definately a good beer, I would have another.

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Photo of karst
4.1/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After a draft from a cask of Stinky that I tried at Rich O's near Louisville, Ky, we resolved to find this brewery and thank the brewers for their fine work. After waiting for Mark and Matt to arrive at the brewery ( former Cargil food plant on Three Notch Rd in Cozet, Va just west of Chalottesville, Va)

After a tour of the brewery and a couple of photos I headed back to Mid Missouri with a couple of cases - one a fresh bottled 12 pack of Starr Hills amber. The Alström Bros describe Amber ales as a catch all for beer lighter than Dark Ale (amber to deep reds ). Style often focuses on malts hopped from low to high. Expect a balanced beer, with toasted malt characters and a light fruitiness. Ranging from a basic ale, to American ale. Brewers who brew faux-Oktoberfest style beers that are actually ales instead of lagers.

I wanted to emphazie that Starr Hill Amber fits well into that last sentence. The flavor of Munich and a blend of crystal 20 and crystal 60 with 2% chocolate malt combine with the 88% American 2-row and clean tasting American ale yeast to yeild a fine tasting malt base that is topped off with Fuggles aroma hops and Pearl hop bitterness that drys the finish and crystal malt sweetness. Carbonated at about 1.5 - 1.75 atmosphers the head rises quickly and does not linger long. Medium body and crisp tingling mouthfeel similar to a bock. I poured this in a 0.4 L rastal tulip sniffer to concentrate the aroma and let it warm to 50 -55°F. Sunday morning looking into my woods and watching my yellow Lab Daisy sniff new mole hills, with Lynyrd Skynyrd singing "All I Can Do Is Write About It" Starr Hill's amber goes down easy and takes me back to the peidmont west of Charlottesville - wishing I had a 5.15 gallon keg fresh from the brewery ( or the 15.5 if all my roudy friends came over for the session).

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Photo of mmmbeer
4/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz., bottled on 1/6/05 and reviewed on 3/7/05. Pours into the nonic a dark amber/red with a half inch light tan head that doesn't leave much lacing. Smell is buttery with caramel and molasses. The flavors are roasted with molasses and nuts followed by floral/slightly citric hops. The carbonation is a bit prickly at first but becomes smooth. A good session beer - not too complicated yet flavorful.

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Photo of sweethome
3.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light brown - darker than most amber beers. Very big malty nose. A hint of smoke, sweet and nutty. The mouthfeel is a little less than what I expected from the nose. Starts out with a fruity character, followed by a nutty/husky flavor. The sweetness comes back with a dried apple flavor, but is finally balanced by a pleasant hop bittering. Fails to integrate well.

I like the beer and would certainly drink it again. It has plenty of flavor (rich malts, a hint of smoke, chocolate, and dried apples). It has potential to be a great beer, just didn't quite come together. A good beer from a brewer I had not heard of previously.

Thanks JG for the sample.

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Photo of cptnjck101
3.96/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Pizza Bella in Charlottesville. Pours a deep amber red with a nice head. A very strong flavor, one of the better Ambers I've ever had. Mouthfeel was a little bitter for my tastes, but a great beer all the same. A friend of mine who works there let me and my buddy sit at the bar and drank this stuff after closing for free and a couple hours later we ended up floating the keg, it's that good.

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

Dark amber color with a nice tan looking head. I liked the lace that went with it. I passed up a chance to try this on tap, but opted for a six pack and I was glad I tried it after reading a review. Brewed close by to where I live and definitely works better than that other micro brewery in Northern VA.

By the second bottle, I was really enjoying the medium hoppy taste which I think is pretty smooth. I would definitely buy this one again.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Scooter77
3.3/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber/brown color with a very thin, bubbly head that dissipates very quick leaving no lace. Aroma is of sweet malt and with some hints earthy undertones. Upon tasting I detected hint of mild sourness mixed with the sweetness of the malt. There was also a sharp bitterness that came through in the flavor. There was a bit of a pungent and astringent aftertaste left in my mouth. This was a decent beer, but nothing to write home about.

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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


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Starr Hill Amber Ale from Starr Hill Brewery
3.38 out of 5 based on 163 ratings.
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