James Squire Amber Ale | Malt Shovel Brewery

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James Squire Amber AleJames Squire Amber Ale

Brewed by:
Malt Shovel Brewery

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-18-2002

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Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 110
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.9/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a short nonic)

A- This beer pours a crystal clear warm brown body with a swirling of microbubbles racing to the surface. There is a creamy beige head that stick to the glass with each sip.

S- The fresh sweet biscuit malt aroma has a lighter caramel malt aroma underneath and a berry quality to the malt that grows as the beer warms.

T- There is a soft fruity sweet perfume quality to the dry biscuit malt flavor and a dry toasted malt flavor follows that. There finish is a soft green hint that has a hint of hops quality. As the beer warms there is a stronger field corn sulfury note that comes though the malt flavors.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a tight fizzy in the finish.

D- This beer has some nice malt flavors but there is some odd characteristics to them like the berry aroma and the perfumy quality in the taste.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.68/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Another glaring omission from my reviewing history).

Pours a burnished deep copper amber colour, with a good head of yellowish-white film. Lacing is excellent around the edges, and there's lots of tiny streaming carbonation, but it's not helping the head retention. Overall, it's a pretty decent looking beer. Quite tasty.

A bit of sour grain mash on the nose, plenty of malt, with a little tingle of seltzer water. Quite round and full, coppery, malty, certainly not much in the way of hops. A decent nose. Not astounding, but decent.

Smooth on the palate, initial copper bitterness forward, followed by a light roasted nutty character entering part way through. Some yeastiness on the back but this is minor compared to the pleasant grain and nut characters. Overall, pretty tasty, and pretty drinkable.

A very drinkable Amber ale, with a very decent amount of character. Certainly good when you want a malty sessioner.

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Photo of Stavage
3.73/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured with a finger of head. Average retention but above average lacing. When I finished I noticed rings of lacing going down the length of my glass which is a pleasant sight. Nice clear but deep copper colouring.

Smell was on the bready side. Tiny bit of of a caramel note and hops smell. Nothing out of the ordinary but pleasant all the same.

Taste was again on the bready/malty side of things. Not much in the way of fruitiness here. There is a bitter sweetness in this beer which I love very much, sweetness I'm guessing from the crystal malt that was used and bitterness from the hops. I wish the malt flavours came out stronger as they are just what I am after. Bit of a nutty aftertaste. Despite the wish for the taste to be so much stronger upfront, this is one of those beers that lingers pleasantly in your mouth a long time after drinking.

Nicely carbonated, fairly smooth, wish it was a little more full bodied. Drinking it feels like its leaving a thin film of beery goodness on your tongue and throat on the way down. I think it's quite drinkable. Seeing that it's more about the malt than the hops this is one ale I think that you would want to be careful not to drink too chilled.

Overall this was nothing special to me, but at the same time it exhibited everything I want out of an English style ale. This ale was all about the malt backbone, and it was a gorgeous backbone I just wish it was a bit stronger. As far as Australian beers are concerned this is definitely one I'd put on a fairly consistent rotation. Would make a great tag team with Little Creatures Pale Ale for the dinner time bout.

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Photo of juju7
3.5/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber/copper/mahogany looking fella with a tidy one finger head. Had this so many times before. One of those beers I come back to when I want something of substance when I'm on a budget.
Sweet caramel malt notes on the nose with a touch of strawberry in the background. Strawberry comes out a bit on the palate with those malty notes. Good long finish, very smooth and approachable. A little light in body for the style but still good beer.

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Photo of TubaManJack
3.62/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance- Deep Amber color- Wow I know big surprise. The head was moderate and produced some limited lacing.
Smell- Somewhat like a brown ale. There was a substacial nut and almost carmel malt nose. Of course there are herbal hops present in the background.
Taste- Moderatly Hopped with a substancial malt backbone. Its quite unique and worth the experience on tap. Its very easy to find on tap in SYD. The carmel malt transitioned to more of a bitter one towards the end of the class and as the carbonation levels dropped.
Mouthfeel- Rather light but the taste progressions are interesting and memorable.
Mixed Drinkability

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.33/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark amber. Half inch of white head fades to a thin covering.
Aroma is mostly sweet dark/toasted malt, with some thin hops in the background.
Very similar malty flavour, with some grassy hops kicking in later followed by a short-lived bitterness. Yalnikim is right about the slight coca-cola similarity.
Good carbonation and body.
A bit thin for my liking, but very easy drinking all the same.

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Photo of WHROO
3.73/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark Amber, 2 finger creamy head...great lacing, average head retention, leaves an ice-creamy film on surface.

S: Honey Malts, little bready. Not too strong in this department, but thankfully the taste stepped up a notch

T: Full honey, carmale sweet malts up front, little floral hops, a delicious hint of roasted malts, finishing with only a touch of bitterness (if any).

M: Medium, maybe feels a tad watery at finish, but full flavour, sweet & good carbonation.

D: easy peezy...no worries drinking more of this...very comparable to your true English Pale Ales, just not as sweet!!!


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Photo of foles
3.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A pretty solid ale - it has the characteristics of an english ale, but scaled right down to suit the average aussie drinker who may not be familiar with the style. Subtle english noble hop presence, with a possibly excessive caramel backbone. Somewhat watery and lacking body, but this doesnt detract too much from the overall product.

Was well served with a decent head and looked impressive with the coppery transparent hue.

Not too bad. Seems better on draught than in the bottle in my opinion.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.44/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice redwood colour with a creamy dense head of white tinged with ochre. Leaves a very thick film of lacing around the glass.

Nose is very nice. Spiced fruit mixed with brown sugar. Not very complex, it's basically an odour in a straight line but the characters are very pleasant.

Taste is unusual, in that it doesn't really taste like it smells. The fruit which was spicy and vibrant on the news here tastes sour and off. Lots of hops flourish throughout the palate but there's far more of a sour than bitter character to this. The palate is long, but there isn't that much complexity. I'm not that much of a fan of sour beers and although this is nowhere near as sour as your average lambic, I'd say this is no exception. Mouthfeel is nice, smooth and creamy.

Overall, a respectable drinking beer with an acquired flavour.

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Photo of Cs1987
4.08/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Darkish amber, 3 fingers of head with good retention and great lacing.

Smell - Strong malt stands out, not much else to comment on.

Taste - Quite different to what I expect from an Pale Ale - less fruity but far more malt. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, with excellent aftertaste and carbonation.

Drinkability - Above average for the style.

Overall - This certainly deserves its place as my second favourite Malt Shovel beer (after the Porter). Great beer, great value.

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Photo of madvoice
3.75/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Mid amber in colour. Not very frothy with the head and it is almost non existant in seconds. It has a rather light fruity smell with citrus overtones. Is a rather sweet beer with a mild texture and a bit of tang on the aftertaste. Not very fizzy which I find is nice. Very very easy to drink.

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Photo of LittleCreature
3.68/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.0
Poured a tight finger of pale beige head that slowly reduced to a thin, bubbly layer. The colour is a deep amber-bronze, which is very clear and looks entirely still.

Smell - 3.5
Some banana smell was apparent upon opening, although this was greatly reduced within seconds. There are soft, but nice aromas of caramel, toffee and butter. Not a particularly strong smell for a pale ale of any type, and for this it loses marks.

Taste - 4.0
This is classic English pale ale to me, and a nice change from the aggressively hoppy American pale ales that I love. Smooth and sweet upfront, plenty of malt and roasted grain flavours with a hint of fruitiness. Moderate hoppy bitterness in the finish, and a dry but pleasant aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - 4.0
While is seems quite flat at first, there is a tingly carbonation in the finish that matches well with the relatively heavy weight and almost syruppy feel in the mouth.

Drinkability - 4.0
Definitely sessionable, it goes down easily, and is tasty enough that it will not get boring. Available on-tap in many locations where unknowing drinkers will pay the same money to guzzle Heineken and Beck's.

I once tried this beer before I was really "into" craft beer, and found that it was too strong and sweet for my taste. A couple of years later, and this is really quite delicious! Possibly the best beer I have tried from James Squire, and that is saying something. Quality is high, price is very good, definitely getting this again.

Edit: Still a good beer, but there are much better amber ales out there.

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Photo of brendan13
3.5/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Orange/amber colour with very little head.
S - Toasted malts & some faint fruity esters.
T - Biscuity maltiness up front followed up with some fruity & grassy flavours.
M - A little bit on the thin side but still passable. Quite high carbonation.
D - A drinkable beer from MS.
Theres other true micros I'd rather give my money to for an equal or better beer but when times are tough or you can't be arsed going somewhere out of your way this is a good standby beer.

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Photo of July2Nov
3.78/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bought bottle in a "Beers of the World" pack from BevMo and poured into a pint glass.

A: A slightly darker amber color. The head was about 1 finger width, that left a little lace around the rim.
S: Very subtle...maybe if I plug my ear up like the character in "Sideways" I'll be able to list the ingredients.
T&M: Yeah...I'm suprised by the flavor. Very refreshing at first. The middle part tastes of a buttery biscuit w/ a some citrus flavor going on. The end has a nutty quality that leaves you with that "cotten-mouth" quality.
D: I was really suprised by this brew. It delivered more than I expected. This definetly could be a session beer.

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Photo of rec
3.52/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When I can't get my hands on a Belgian beer, this is what I'm drinking. You're right, it's not a lot like a Belgian ale, but has a strikingly strong and full flavour which I've really grown to appreciate.

It reeks of malt and hops; you can almost taste it before taking a sip. Like the Golden Ale, it screams boutique, and is perfect for changing things up but definately not a session beer as the taste can become tiresome after a few.

It's quite complex but well-rounded. You'll taste nuts, fruit and florals. Served cold it's quite refreshing, but for the best flavour having it served a bit warmer than most pubs have it on tabe would be recommended.

I'd almost say it's my favourite Australian beer, if only I didn't get sick of the taste after so few at a time.

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Photo of vancurly
3.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber, head fades to a surface slick, leaving some nice lacing.

Smells of malt powder, English hops, hint of metallic note. Some yeast extract (Marmite/Vegemite) hint also.

Taste of amber malts, hint of banana, some honeycomb, aftertastes of floral, soapy hop that I think is Goldings. Mild bitterness.

Medium body, crisp-ish finish. Probably better from the bottle, where one has better control over serving temperature. The average Sydney tap-temperature is too low for amber ales, I think.

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

Coppery burnt orange with lemon-tangerine edges. The head is the color of mandarin orange mousse, has a rumpled-bumpy surface and is tacky enough to leave an impressive amount of lace all over the glass. This one is a looker, mate!

The aroma is a little less impressive. It's moderately toasted malty (officially: pale, crystal and carapils) with an offsetting amount of earthy, herbal, fruity hops. Bruised apples spinked with some sort of earthy spice is as close as I can come to a description. More power would be good.

James Squire Amber Ale is definitely an English pale ale. Campfire toasted malt runs the show from start to finish. What hops are present provide much more flavor than bitterness. Again, I'm reminded of lightly spiced, baked apples, with a hint of sour apple tang buried down deep.

This MSB offering is an easy drinking, balanced, less than exciting pale ale that needs more hop character to amount to anything special. It tastes a little like those 'pub can' English ales like Tetley's, Boddington's, etc. In the end... competent, but boring.

The body/mouthfeel is no more exciting than the flavor profile. The beer just lays there and waits to be swallowed. It's light-medium in heft and is pretty damn close to thin. It's also undercarbonated.

I'm surprised that I haven't at least heard of Malt Shovel Brewery prior to this bottle of James Squire Amber Ale. The presentation is very nice (the bottles look like New Belgium's, with the same raised, embossed neck rings), but the beer itself borders on lackluster. I'll try a few more Shovelfuls before making up my mind on the brewery as a whole.

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Photo of warmstorage
2.5/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

AU$5.50 schooner (~425ml, I believe?) had both on tap at several Sydney pubs, a couple of Victoria pubs, and a pub in the Sydney airport (when they were out of the James Squire Porter.) That my various tastings of this beer included my last Australian beer, after a month of drinking in the country, seems fitting: it's one of the better things on offer, and it's pretty lame.

Notes below were an amalgam of two separate tastings and ratings, though all five or six times I drank this beer my impressions were the same: I disliked it quite a bit, though not as much as whatever else was available in each (next) place along the way.

Bright copper to orange color, visible rising bubbles and average to slightly vigorous tight white head. Schooners, incidentally, are a pretty ridiculous glass for aroma, head, and taste, for most beer.

Nose is fruity and sweet, and a good head is held, with the beer consistently served WAY TOO DAMN COLD. Jesus: it's an airport, it's temperature controlled, and they still serve the beer around 42-44*F. After one taste, I read my book while it sat for about 10 minutes to warm. It was just a little below cellar temp when I rated and made notes.

Taste is significantly sweet, fruity, with hints of apricot (reminded me of Magic Hat #9 or Dogfish Head Aprihop.) Oddly sweet, and totally inappropriately so for the style (whether that's Amber or EPA), bordering on sickly sweet.

The taste lingers briefly, with slightly harsh malt flavors and more sickly sweet fruitiness.

Pretty poor: and that it's one of the better offerings in the country says a lot.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.92/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle(room temp) a hazy amber with a large head of foam that dissipated fairly quickly leaving 1 large clump and a fine layer.

The smell is quite nice with a mix of malt and hops

The taste was very smooth with nice balance between the hop bitterness and the sweetness from the malt. I also sensed nutty and vanilla tones and they helped make this beer quite drinkable.

Bottom line: This is a good amber ale. One I'd buy again.

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Photo of hero27
3.54/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

11.65 oz bottle. Listed 5% abv.

Mostly clear burnt copper color, with some small yeast particles minding their own business. The head doesn't hold well and it's a bit too oily to leave any lacing behind. Toffee malt aroma and flavor..pretty thick flavor, actually. A bit on the thin side, and too damn expensive for what you get..but not a bad offering out of the land-down-under.

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Photo of DogFood11
2.81/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bristol farms had this in their limited stock of beer. Comes in a brown bottle with alot of extra small writing on the label, very vintage or old ale looking bottle. Sticky head leaves a massive blanket covering. Highly filtered and ultra carb'd.

Caramel, some grassy hop background. Mellow and subtle.

I would say overall the mix is pleasant. Malt profile, while light, has enough to keep it somewhat interesting. Hops almost come through with less bitter and more of a flash of dry zip in the middle of each pull. Tends to be a bit more watered than I would like. Its a decent beer but its run of the mill to below average.

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Photo of DaveFL1976
3.03/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is not a great beer, but it's a lot better than many of the beers you will find in pubs. It pours, not suprisingly, an amber colour with a decent enough head. Faint hop smells are grassy, but something in the malts just tastes a little off to me. My wife likes it well enough, but this is a bit so-so for my tastes and I'd rather have just about any other James Squire beer.

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Photo of Finite
3.83/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer does everything it says on the bottle which I find very admirable for a beer these days.

Pours nice red amber with moderate carbonization and a thick head which lasts the entirety of the beer leaving a think white lacing down the glass. Perfect.

Smells of fruity nuts with a smooth malt and a hint of bitter hops in the background, perhaps a touch bitter but again, just does what the label says.

Taste is sweet with moderate to small amounts of malt immediately, that doesnÂ’t last long and I would mind if that dragged on a touch longer. Sweet malts are present in the background and some sweet earthy nutty flavors, perhaps dried banana or macadamia? Finished with a bitter late after taste which lasts a long time. If you let that flavor last, some sweetness come back as well yet retains some coarseness on the palate.

It a good mix between malt ale and refreshing bitter hops. The mix is slightly watery however which makes it probably more a summer ale. With its availability so high in Australia I will try this number again. Not bad at all for a mainstream beer.

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Photo of misterscooter
3.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A beautiful Red ale with an amber tint to it. About a finger of head that is a nice white.

Apple smell, a little woody, but sweet.

A little tingle in the mouthfeel, not too much carbonation. Some apple sweetness in the taste with a cocoa malt. Dry after swallowing, especially on the roof of your mouth. Some cinnamon flavoring in the aftertaste.

Not bad but maybe a little dryer than I'd like for an amber.

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Photo of Weizenmensch
3.3/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

James Squire Original Amber Ale, 345mL brown bottle with "Malt Shovel Brewery" embossed on the neck, best before 19/2/06.

Appearance: Not really amber, much darker than that, more like rusty dark orange/tangerine with some ruby colour. Head dissipates reasonably quickly, leaving a skin of lacing around the glass. Low carbonation.

Smell: Grain, an unusual rusty blood smell, some slightly citric hops. For the style, there could be a whole lot more hop aroma than there is. I like a good fruity hop smell, and this certainly doesn't have it. But the mild scent it gives off isn't bad.

Taste: Satisfying, especially since I've been drinking much sweeter beers recently. Dry and bitter but with a complex, lingering mixture of tastes on the palate. Fairly watery and fizzy on the tongue, so hard to tell what's there, but nice hops, vanilla, maybe stone fruit (apricot) on the palate. Enjoyable, though not that special for the style, particularly since this tastes so watery (probably one reason it's become so popular in Australia, despite its colour).

Mouthfeel: Not so great, watery and bubbly on the tongue. A thin feel also.

Drinkability: Good, especially for a reasonably flavoursome ale in the hot weather. Can be consumed cold without losing too much detail. I'm really glad we've got this as a mainstream beer now, it's infinitely better than the other options - New, VB, Hahn, soapy Old - and it's available in RSL clubs etc now, so it's the same price there as any other tap beer. Good stuff. As a standard (non-premium), it sets a good standard for Aussie beer.

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James Squire Amber Ale from Malt Shovel Brewery
3.49 out of 5 based on 110 ratings.
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