James Squire Amber Ale | Malt Shovel Brewery

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James Squire Amber AleJames Squire Amber Ale
110 Ratings
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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Ratings: 110 |  Reviews: 70
Photo of LittleCreature
3.68/5  rDev +6.4%
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 +1.2%
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 +9.2%
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 +1.7%
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 -0.3%
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 +0.6%
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 -27.7%
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 +13.3%
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 +2.3%
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 -18.8%
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 -12.4%
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 +10.7%
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 doesn’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 -3.2%
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 -4.6%
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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Photo of mynie
3.31/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours really pretty. Ruby red with a nice little head.

Weak odor of caramel malt and over ripe fruit. I thought this might be old, but the guy at the store said it just came in last week. Maybe it was a long trip up here?

Nice malt upfront, fruit in the middle, and a spoilt, rotty malt finish. Ups and downs, right here.

This is definetely old, but I don't think it should be exempt from a review because of it since "Old" is the only way us Americans get to sample this beer. Despite its advanced age it's still okay tasting and quite drinkable, but the folks at Malt Shovel should really work on getting their beer to the states faster.

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Photo of jarmby1711
3.43/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pouring deep red/bronze capped with a cloud like off white headthis is a sweet smelly malty ale.
The malt predominates the foretaste which is sson consumed by a crisp hop finish that starts nicely but fails to develop any aftertaste.
Its a very pleasant beer but the finish disappoints after the wonderful start.

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Photo of BeerNutta
3.22/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured out a dark amber colour. Had a distinct hoppy aroma with a fruitty aftertone. Smooth malt flavour with a sweet fruity middle followed by a dry hop finish.

Not overly carbonated, however was pretty expensive in Australia for an Australian beer. Not the first beer I'd think of if I wanted a few on a hot summers day. Refreshing none the less.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.44/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11/01/04-Purchased at Trader Joes San Mateo

Apperance: Poured a dark amber color. A tad cloudy, but a nice billowy creamy head. Very nice lacing

Smell: Smelled a bit medicinal. Other than that, a bit of caramel, a bit malt. Not too much scent.

Taste: A bit thin, but the hop flavor is there along with the sweetness of caramel. A bit dry on the finish. A good taste.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation and a nice crispness

Drinkablity: Overall a pretty decent beer. A good flavor that goes down pretty easy. Not one of my favorites, but not bad. I think this is my first beer from down under. Well, besides Fosters.

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Photo of cokes
2.78/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Ruby-traced amber with a thin heading of bleached tan.
Nose of rusted tin, tart apples, raisins, and dabs of caramel.
Begin with green raisins. There's a slight toastedness that follows. Circles back towards green fruit, this time with apples. Notable cola-like sweetness. Maltiness is pretty minimal. Yeast adds a strange sense of rusty butter. Unique strand, sort of mimicking ringwood, but not nearly as intense. Ends with very little hop related traits, aside from a dryness that seems mostly derived from the carbonation.
Thin bodied with uppity carbonation. This seems like a undistinguishable Sammy Smith brew cut 30/70 with a macro...or just seltzer water.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours from the 12 ounce brown bottle a somewhat hazy burnished copper color with the head modest in size, semi-creamy in texture and the color a winsome light tan, as it slowly sinks into the sunset the lace forms a sealing curtain upon the glass. Nose is sweet malt with hints of caramel, slightly hint of yeast, quite crisp and clean to the senses. Start is sweet and nicely malted, the top is middling in its feel to the palate, finish has a brisk acidity and the hops personable in their spiciness, a nice drinking beer and one I’ve not had for 3 or 4 years, wish I had better access to it.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
3.7/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber-copper with a nice, off-white, 1" head. Aroma is a nicely balanced malty, roasy, slightly sweet (brown sugar) with a light hop profile. Flavor is sweet candy sugar, with a light sense of dates and figs. Not bad, but sweetness is too strong- overpowers everything else. Mouthfeel is creamy, not heavy, not exciting. Overall a nice brew with good drinkability, but nothing to get too excited over.

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Photo of winomark
2.63/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a medium amber with a generous, sticky light tan head.

Slight estery tones noticable from a distance. Hops are muted, along with the malt. Overall, quite mild.

Slightly sweet palate. Reminds me slightly of Newcastle Brown. Hops ae present, but buried. Slightly tannic and dry finish.

Very mild mouth, with some flavor, but not too exciting. Short, tannic finish.

An easy drinker, but nothing special by any means. No need to search for this one.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber bedecked with a thick tan head with lots of haphazard lace on the side of the glass.
Aroma is sweet caramel, hint of grass and a sort of cinnamon hop note, very odd to my nose.
Flavor is sweet malt with a citrus fruit hint in the background. This transitions into hoppy finish that is bitter but not overpowering.
Mouthfeel is smooth to start and then dries out into a medium-bitter finish, overall fairly soft on the palate.
Drinkability is very high, good have had definitely had another.

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear brown red ale. WAY darker than Amber.

Smells very malty and fruity, has a nice perfume for the nose.

Taste is mild; there is lots of malt and flowery tastes. Reminds me of Young’s Dirty Dick Ale. There is a mild hops bite in the finish. Well Balanced, I like harsher stuff but this is indeed tasty.

Mouthfeel is very good, boosted by the carbonation.

Very drinkable, If I had to pick a beer I like and something that Budweiser drinkers could tolerate this would be a good choice.

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Photo of diablo14
3.51/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

took me a while to warm up to this one, but once i did i found it hard to stop buying 6 packs. then i had it on tap. that cemented it for me. the j.s amber is easily one of the best warm weather session beers going around in oz if you want something with a touch of class.

color is a very strong copper color with a light foamy head that stays a fair bit better than it does on some of their others (from the keg no problems with retention at all). sweet nutty caramel like nose with some flowery hops, tastes alot like a brown ale, but less sweet, with subtle malts, caramel tinges and a nutty finish supported with a drawn out but gentle hop bitterness. not too complex or robust, but impressive presentation of flavors. quite light in body and rather carbonated for the style, but this serves to make it very drinkable indeed. never have any problem getting this down.

infinately better on tap than from the bottle, either way you cant get better for the price. more consistant than the other standard j.s brews when in the bottle also. a real thirst quencher from jimmy here.

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James Squire Amber Ale from Malt Shovel Brewery
Beer rating: 3.46 out of 5 with 110 ratings
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