Arbor Brewing Red Snapper Special Bitter | Arbor Brewing Company

51 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Arbor Brewing Red Snapper Special BitterArbor Brewing Red Snapper Special Bitter

Brewed by:
Arbor Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by beernut7 on 07-30-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 51 | Ratings: 66
Photo of dfillius
3.75/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass
A: Aggressive pour yields 1+finger of off-white head with good retention atop a light brownish orange liquid. Nice head, SRM is a bit dark.
S: Restrained but pleasant citrus hops with slight dank edge. Caramel, slightly earthy/peaty side to malt adds complexity and intrigue. Slight alcohol is perceptible.
T: Strongly bitter with grapefruit rind aspect. Malt opens but quickly yields to hops. Wow. Punishingly bitter. I'd prefer if it was a bit more balanced. A tad too one-dimensional.
M: Brutally bitter - surprising. Almost a bit astringent.
O: Quite nice. I'd order another and buy a 6-er. Enjoyable and hoppy!

 641 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a fairly interesting beer. There are thick malt tones with a kind of smoky thing going on as well. This is far from being the typical amber, but it's still nice to drink. Not sure if it's for everyone though. It may be a bit too unique for some people.

 260 characters

Photo of JohnnyHopps
2.3/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from the bootled, the ale had a lot of head which stayed for a while. With no date on the bottle, it made me wonder if the beer was in the best condition. A deep amber in color, it smelled like a typical amber ale with a noted maltiness. Initial taste has more bitter than expected for the style and lacked the smoothness. A citrusy finish was a surprise, but did not compensate for an underwhelming ale.

 411 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Arbor Red Snapper

Pours a deep amber color with an inch of froth and lacing down the glass. Mildly floral aroma with some caramel malt backing. The taste revolves around roasted malt and lightly piney citrusy hops. Theres caramel, roasted barley, earthy bitterness, and citrus, but all very mild making this beer quite sessionable. Mouthfeel is alittle thin, with adequate carbonation though somewhat loose. Overall, a mild, easy drinking session pale with maltyness to back it up.

 482 characters

Photo of violanojblues
3.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

my bottle labeled this as a "roasted pale ale" and it does name it "red snapper" and it has the fish and everything so i don't know if that's new or really old. hm.

12 oz bottle poured into a 14 oz goblet.

A - little dark for a pale ale. nice head. lingered for a bit leaving some nice lacing.

S - more malty than the hoppiness i was expecting. so many brewers are dry-hopping their pale ales that it seems the catagories need to be redifined. this one has not fallen victim to that trend. refreshing.

T - very clean tasting. good bitterness - quite assertive, actually. blends nicely into a prominent toasty biscuitiness. light caramel. i'm not getting as much roast malt as i am biscuit malt. the bitterness lasts till the end. leaves kind of a dry aftertaste. the ABV above states that this is 4.9%, but it tastes more potent then that. my bottle isn't labeled with that info. i would be interested in the IBU's.

M - pretty standard for a pale ale. the bitterness i think leaves the aftertaste a little dry, but other than that it's pretty par for the course.

O - a pretty good example of an english pale. a little too much first-addition hops. it's really quite good. a nice autumn ale. they should try this malt-bill with a belgian yeast.

 1,250 characters

Photo of
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - red-brown with a slight froth that hangs around for a short time, then dissapears.

Smell - roasted malt, a bit of spice, bread.

Mouthfeel - medium body and high carbonation.

Taste - The predominant flavour is roasted malt with a little bit of hops bitterness and backdrop of fruity rye. An interesting contrast of roast and fruit.

 346 characters

Photo of SupaCelt
3.7/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle says Red Snapper "roasted pale ale" which doesn't appear to be the same as what is listed here. Also this is a product of the Arbor Brewing offshoot Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti. At any rate: The pour is red, or deep amber, with a pinky of head that reduces to a quarter inch cap that persists as lacing wipes itself all over the place.

The nose is a bit roasty as expected with a bit of earth and spice hoppiness. Bit of bread.

The taste is malt dominant with some bitterness and a modest roast character. Tastes a bit like rye and has some metallic properties.

The mouthfeel is around medium. Fluffy and round.

Overall, this is decent. A bit of a catch a crossover type brew. A repeat sampling is doubtful, as there are better offerings from this brewery or breweries.

 780 characters

3.14/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle had no brewing date. Very foamy head with lacing and an inconsistent dissipation. The color is a deer amber with a reddish hue. If the head wasn't so "lumpy" the appearance would rate higher. It has a underwhelming smell with slight hoppy and caramel overtones. The initial flavor is mild and doesn't present itself as bitter as other ESB's. There is a burn't toast flavor to it. There is a slight caramel taste. The after taste dies down but lingers as somewhat metallic. Not bad but nothing special.

 508 characters

Photo of StoneTSR
4.15/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Not surprisingly, the Red Snapper poured a nice, deep, brownish-red. I fluffy white head rested on top with some excellent retention. Halfway through the glass I still had half the head left. There was a bit of thin lacing as well.

SMELL: Pretty powerful nose of malty hoppiness. The malt seems to be the star of the show for the smell and it is sweet.

TASTE: Not nearly as sweet as the nose would suggest, however, a hint of sugary malt is noticeable throughout the sip. Hops are also noticeable along with a mild smoky flavor. The aftertaste is quite bitter, but good.

MOUTHFEEL: This beer is alive. Very carbonated and felt like it was scrubbing the palate on the way down.

OVERALL: I recently wrote a post about finding great beers in unexpected places, and this is certainly a good example. I stopped in at Arbor Brewing for lunch expecting a decent meal and some decent beer that I had never tried before. I ended up leaving with a six-pack of the Snapper because it was just that delicious.

 1,013 characters

Photo of Cresant
2.05/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a tulip pint. No date. Coded: 133 A3 11:46. The body was a dull dark amber/red with enough sediment to create substantial haze. The huge brittle head prevented me from pouring the entire beer in the glass with one pour. The head had a long sustain, leaving clumpy lacing.

The smell was lightly spicy. Bread crust aroma surfaced as it warmed.

The taste was a bit watery. Despite the dark body this one seemed under-malted. Some earthy hops aftertaste. Rather bland. It could be an old bottle? This is not one I would revisit. Dirty and dull. I didn't even finish this one!

The body was too light despite adequate carbonation.

 665 characters

Photo of kneeland
2.78/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I was expecting a nice amber beer, instead I got some type of a pale ale tasting beer trying to pass itself off for an amber. It was way too wheaty and hoppy to be an amber I like.

It seemed like most of my glass was foam. Maybe it was a bad pour, but it seems like others on here had a similar issue.

I decided to try something different before I was halfway done with this one. And the bar was way too dark also, but that has nothing to do with the beer.

 458 characters

Photo of morimech
3.25/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very foamy pour that took quite awhile to fill the glass with a reddish brown fluid. A bit annoying. Mantains a large head with pleny of lacing. The aroma is full of toasted caramel malt. A little bit of earthiness as well. The flavor is dominated by the toasted and caramel malt. Not a favorite flavor profile for me. Bitterness seems low and not much flavor from the hops. The body is far too overcarbonated. Makes the body feels thinner than it actually is. It drinks well enough and has a "sessionable" ABV, but the flavor profile is not too my liking.

 556 characters

Photo of jrallen34
3.62/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this as part of a sampler at the brew pub. Not a great beer overall but the best of the bunch over there...The look is nothing special, nice aroma that is caramel and light hops...The taste is pretty caramelly too but balaned with some nice rye.

If you're a rye fan drink this beer, otherwise skip it unless you are there. I would come any distance to try it.

 366 characters

Photo of potownbill
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: The body is brown, with an off white head. The suds exploded as I poured it into a pint glass. There was an inch of beer in the glass and the rest was froth. I had to wait a few minutes while the head collapsed before I finished the pour.
Smell: Sweet malt with some hop bitterness
Taste: Sweet malt, some graininess, and some hop bitterness. The beer improved as it warmed, but reached a point where the hop bitterness took over and was no longer enjoyable
Mouthfeel: Despite the volcanic head, the beer flattened out after a few minutes.
Drinkability: First 10 minutes were great. After that, the beer lost its complexity.

 638 characters

Photo of stevenseg
3.9/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I originally was a little disappointed at how bitter this beer was despite its amber style. Typically amber ales rely heavily on malt flavor and area little lighter on the hops. However, this beer is supposed to be a "special bitter", meaning it will be a little heavier on the hops. I'm evaluating this brew with this in mind.

Upon first pour, Red Snapper's head blew up. I had to wait five minutes for the head to dissipate so I could pour the entire bottle. Needless to sat, the head is very thick and frothy...but rather than being sticky, it's more on the froth side, which indicates large bubbles, or over-carbonation in a beer with a lighter body.

The nose is great. The sweetness of the lightly roasted malts and the bitterness of the hops melded perfectly. Notes of slightly burnt caramel prevailed.

After letting the beer rest and allowing the head to fully form, the carbonation mellowed dramatically. Note to drinkers: pour this guy hard and let it mellow. It does the beer GREAT justice. Very sweet up front and bitter on the back end with a smoky wait in between sips.

Drinking straight from the bottle, this beer is difficult to palate. I have seen this with MANY Arbor Brewing beers. They are so highly carbonated that if you drink from the bottle the foam will erupt out of your mouth like a volcano. Horrible mouthfeel to say the least, but if you pour the beer and let it warm slightly and mellow, the beer takes on a MUCH different character. A more pleasant one.

All in all, it's the pour and mellowing of this beer that makes Red Snapper what it is. It takes the beer from a C brew to a solid B. I would love this beer out of a chilled goblet and sip on it. Ambers make great sessions, and this one is no different, providing you let it mellow.

 1,774 characters

Photo of tubacharlie
3.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The yeast and hops combine in the nose for a fresh ale aroma.

Poured with a decent, light beige head of large bubbles, with good retention. The slightly cloudy amber-colored brew has good carbonation in the mouth and creates a creamy foam as it is sipped.

The hops and yeast are quite apparent in the flavor, overpowering the malt with a lingering mild hop bitterness. Pleasant, drinkable ale but not overly impressive.

 421 characters

Photo of Frosty80
3.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: sits a clear, burnt orange with a nice thick, fluffy head that deflates quickly but leaves good lacing behind

Smell: great balance of malt with strong caramel presence and citrusy hops. balance is tipped toward the malt though.

Taste: opposite of aroma - hops are the dominant feature with caramelly malt supporting. zesty, citrusy hop flavor with moderate bitterness that lingers through finish.

Mouthfeel: medium body with moderate carbonation

Notes: good example of a hoppy American amber

 503 characters

Photo of jakeyb
3.3/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is my first from Arbor Brewing Co, and the first Amber Ale I've had since Bell's last winter. Poured a pint glass to start off. Thin, 1-finger head that dissipated quickly. Rusty brownish color with a hint of red, and some leftover particulates. First few sips give off a very piney aroma, with a hint of lemon zest. Transferred the rest to a brandy snifter. No head was attainable after second pour, but some nice velvety lacing around the rim. Medium bodied ale, with a bitter zest that lingers in the back of the mouth. A bit disappointed that there is nothing that really hits the front or sides of the tongue. Bitter finish with a lingering aftertaste. A bit of a green walnut taste as the beer warms. Good carbonation balance, quite smooth, but not an incredibly complex beer by my taste buds.

 804 characters

Photo of tjlake
4.42/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was very pleasantly surprised by this beer, after trying another offering from Arbor which was thoroughly disappointing. This beer hangs very well with the American bitters and Reds from some more well-known midwestern breweries.

Poured a pretty red into a straight pint glass with a light head, and consistent foamy lacing all the way down.

Smell is more malty than I expected, but had a great almost caramel flavor with a nice bite (not too much) on the finish. Fuller mouth feel than Bell's Amber, even better when just above fridge temps. Let it sit a little before popping the top.

Great session beer, solid poker night beer, good Facebook status update and friend lurking beverage. Tastes bigger than its 4.9% would have you believe. Will buy again.

 760 characters

Photo of ralree
4.38/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Opaque, reddish-brown, nice 1/2 finger head, laces great.

S: Sweet/tangy hops. Nice herbal smell with sweet brown sugar in the background.

T: Super tangy hops, lots of hop flavor: a cross between grapefruit and apricot. Slightly smoky back-end. Non-sweet aftertaste.

M: Overcarbonated, a bit creamy but dry. Non-astringent to the max.

D: Good drinker. A little too much carbonation to be perfect. I finished the bottle.

 426 characters

Photo of BierFan
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a tulip glass. This beer doesn't really fit into any style so it makes it a little tricky to review it.

Appearance: A hard pour gave a big tan head. In the tulip the body of the beer is pretty much black. Decent lacing.

Smell: Roasty and bitter like a porter but not as heavy. It's like somebody made a 50/50 combination of a porter and an amber ale.

Taste: Bitter and toasty. Sweet with some cocoa aftertaste.

Unusual beer, but it's one of my favorites from Arbor Brewing.

 513 characters

Photo of Nickls
3.15/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(From notes)

A - Poured with a slightly off-white head that dissipated very quickly. Really no lacing throughout the sample. Really dirty, dark brown color

S - Earthy; some breadiness; light sweetish malt aromas. Not much going on here

T - Really odd mineral-like flavors that hit the back of the tongue and palate; is that chocolate?; toast; strange stuff for the style...or whatever it is

M - Thinner to Medium body; very muted carbonation.

D - Really took me a few to get through the sample with some of the odd flavors and real lack of anything tasting 'good'

Overall, not sure if this is how it is meant to taste or if it is....not really good. Not worth it...

 672 characters

Photo of eckerrob
3.1/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer was poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A - It came out with a nice reddish/amber opaque color with about 2 fingers of head. It gave nice lacing down the bottle.

S - Very aromatic. Had a very big earthy smell of grains/hops.

T - It was a bitter beer, and it tasted almost chemically at some points. Had a slight fruity flavor and had some hop/amber taste.

F - A good amount of carbonation, but it didn't bother me while I drank it. It had some body and felt good in my mouth.

D - It wasn't filling, but it left a very weird aftertaste. It was good, but I wouldn't drink two in a row.

It is a very bitter beer, and I'm sure if you like a bitter beer you would enjoy it. It was nice to try, but not the beer that I would go for everytime.

 756 characters

Photo of hopdog
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I had this one on tap at the Arbor Brew Pub.

Poured a deeper and cloudy dull copper color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of light roast, citrus, some caramel, and very light spice. Tastes follow the same - roast, citrus and caramel. Light lacing left on the glass.

Notes from 5/6/06

 296 characters

Photo of MDekker
2.8/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours out an opaque brown color, with very faint tints of red. A serious 2+ finger head forms, which I could of predicted after the harsh snap of fizz I heard when popping the cap off. I had to pour slow to keep the head from getting ridiculous in size.

S: A bit sour, smoky, and not very sweet. Somewhat astringent. Potentially interesting, but I'm wary of it.

T: Not great. Mostly dry and bitter, faint grainy sweetness, sour notes, boiled carrots, and a lingering aftertaste.

M: Irritating carbonation, overriding everything else I might want to think about.

D: I'll probably finish it, but maybe not. I'm not having another. There's no date on the bottle, so maybe this one is old. I bought four other Arbor brews, and I hope they turn out better than this one.

 772 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Arbor Brewing Red Snapper Special Bitter from Arbor Brewing Company
3.47 out of 5 based on 66 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.