Switchback Ale
Switchback Brewing Company

Switchback AleSwitchback Ale
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American Amber / Red Ale
Ranked #623
Ranked #42,786
3.61 | pDev: 12.74%
Switchback Brewing Company
Vermont, United States
Switchback AleSwitchback Ale
Notes: Switchback Ale (First sold October 22nd, 2002)

Using only traditional ingredients, Switchback Ale is a reddish-amber ale which is particularly well-balanced, allowing for complexity of flavor coupled with an unusually smooth and refreshing character. Five different malts, select hop varieties, and our own specially cultivated yeast create an ale which leads with hop flavors and a subtle impression of fruit (our yeast's contribution), followed by a palate pleasing malty finish. Our own special process uses the yeast to naturally carbonate the beer, and we leave it unfiltered. The result is a satisfying brew full of flavor with a remarkably clean and smooth finish.
Reviews: 185 | Ratings: 966 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of HorseheadsHophead
3.23/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Hazy amber with a small off white head.

Smells like toasted bread, honey, and herbal hops.

Tastes like toasted bread. A bit oxidized? Some cardboard and paper. A touch of earth and herbal hops. Bland.

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Photo of Noonmark1
4.31/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I'm not gifted with the ability to distinguish and identify particular tastes or even aromas with beer or food. For instance, I noticed that someone on another site noted a suggestion of "unbuttered biscuit" taste for Switchback. Come on! That's just pretentiousness. I simply very much like Switchback's taste, appearance and bottle & can design. It's the kind of beer that can be enjoyed both in quantity, as a one-and-done, or as a companion to a meal. The flavor is balanced, I guess, in the sense that no one taste element dominates, although I definitely notice a very pleasant malt flavor. It's just a solid, not heavy, not IPA beer that I can't imagine will ever fall out of favor with me.

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Photo of chitoryu12
3.66/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Look: Slightly hazy orange. One finger of thick white head with good retention.

Smell: Orange peel, citrusy hops, sweet malt.

Taste: Mild biscuity malt with a slight undercurrent of hop bitterness. Very little hop flavor, but a decently long finish.

Mouthfeel: Full, creamy body with good carbonation.

Overall: A typical amber, despite looking orange rather than amber.

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Photo of Amendm
3.62/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An easy pour from a 16-oz. can yields a finger of white soapy foam with average retention and blotches of lace. A slight haze to a copper color body, orange amber in bright light.

Toasted and sweet caramel malt greet the nose with bread and general fruit. Faint hops.

Neutral with mild bitterness, hop flavor is now citrus and herbal. Apple and grapefruit with some lemon almost add sweetness, a mix of malt with caramel in front are balanced by a slight rise in bitterness. The finish is quick and semi-dry, moderate bitterness lingers.

Medium-light body with plenty of soft carbonation, smooth and session-able.
Matches style guidelines, somewhat pedestrian yet an enjoyable drink.

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Photo of abnormal
3.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear copper colored with loads of carbonation. A thin ring of bubbles floats on top.

Aroma: White bread, yeast, cowtail candy.

Taste: Caramel malt, toasted grain, lightly sweet and bready aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, carbonation isn't over the top. In the dry side.

Overall: An enjoyable amber ale.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.26/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured from bottle into a pint glass with bottled date of 6-15-19
Appearance – The beer pours a lightly hazed reddish amber color with a one finger head of white foam. The head fades super fast to leave just a trace of lace on the sides of the glass.
Smell – The aroma of the brew is strongest of lightly toasted bready smell mixed with some caramel and a bit of toffee. Along with these aromas comes a little bit of grapefruit hop and a hint of herb.
Taste – The taste begins with a caramel and bready taste which create the base flavors of the brew. Soon however come citrus flavors as well as a very light sour taste of lemon greet the tongue. Some graininess develops more at the end of the taste and with a little bit of a herbal flavor ends up leaving one with a bready and somewhat unique citrusy taste to linger on the tongue.
Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is on the medium side in terms of thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is rather average. For the sorta strange taste at the end the feel is actually pretty nice and makes this a rather easy sipper.
Overall – It has a unique taste for sure. It is sorta a grainy amber with a more citrus hop hit. Not really my favorite, but it is interesting for a amber…

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Photo of jrc1093
3.76/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 6/27/19

Pours a dingy orange-amber with a finger of frothy off-white head; good retention yields a spotty cap and slight collar along with a thin smattering of webby lacing.

Aromas of sweet, yeasty caramel malt inundated with rounded bread crust notes open with a depth further enhanced by toasted wood with a tinge of raspberry; a slight evergreen hoppy tone is lurking persistently in the background; casually complex and well-rounded.

Taste follows the nose, with less complexity but similar roundedness; mildly syrupy caramel malts with a tinge of evergreen hops, toasted wood, and floral roses flow from start to finish.

Mouthfeel is light-bodied with a boosting, semi-creamy carbonation leading to a thinnish, refreshing finish with a touch of roasty char reviving the body.

Great marriage of complexities and drinkability in an amber ale; immensely enjoyable and an easy pairing with all occasions, while still keeping things fairly interesting.

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Photo of Alexc11
3.81/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Cloudy reddish amber color with a one-finger head that doesn't dissipate quickly. Along with a healthy lace it gives it an extra pleasurable characteristic. Not sure what to make of the aroma as it's not its defining trait. Taste is also interesting and balanced. I don't know if it's not distinctive they may not be a good thing but I do taste malt, citrus and I want to say banana bread overtones. Medium carbonation accompanied by some hops but little bitterness. Nice smooth almost honey like finish. Despite its 'neutrality' I like it.

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Photo of Navanation
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look is reddish amber, cloudy if you shake the yeast up before pouring. Smell and taste are well balanced. I find this beer to de extremely drinkable. Not too melty or hoppy. Mouth feel is light and pleasant. Did I say extremely drinkable! First try was in Massachusetts. More recently in New Hampshire. Too bad it's not available locally to me.

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Photo of alcoholicarrogance
2.88/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Make sure to swirl the bottle every so often while drinking, the yeast will settle on the bottom and you won't get as much flavor. The beer's pretty good, like a red ale and a Belgian style whitbier combined together, but that could just be because of the yeast settlement. Tastes like how a red ale should, but I wish there was a fuller taste. Not that it tastes watery, just the flavor is more dull than I'd like. Good malt character, nice carbonation. Might be something I'd get when on sale.

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Photo of TigerSoul
4.17/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Switchback's flagship ale has always been one of my favorites when we travel up to Vermont. I once preferred it in the 22 oz. bomber but since they've issued six-packs of the vintage-y stubby bottles, I've changed my stripes. Those malts really come through, with a hop presence that takes a back seat (for a refreshing change!) and don't forget to swish the yeasty sediment near the end of the pour. Well balanced, nice finish, it's what an ale should taste like.

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Photo of Tantonys
4.5/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quite good, refreshing ale. Nice hops profile and good malt body. Overall, a premium Pre-prohition type style. Good investment. Can't go wrong with a Switchback.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.66/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the stubbie, it pours a nice hazy amber color with a nice 1 inch plus off-white head that lasts a bit. In the nose, a bit of malt. In the mouth, a nice lightly malty beer that is not too sweet, just right. Yum!

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Photo of DVTO2
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think this brew is underrated based on the fact that it's an IPA world. This is more of a session ale, what i imagine you might find in an english pub. It's got a malty complexity with a smooth, light hoppy finish. Very easy to drink while your watching your favorite game.

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Photo of tigerinatrance
3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Frothy. Milky. Delicious. Not much of a scent to it besides yeast and warm maltiness. One of my favorite brews, and the reason is the taste and mouth feel. It doesn’t feel like anything else. Almost like a good Framboise with no punch to it. Soothing. Warm, even if it’s ice cold. The taste is bready and comforting. It’s like soul food for the palate. Simple, but inviting and interesting. I love a brew that can really delight and interest your palate without overpowering it with powerful and even conflicting flavor notes. This one is straight forward, but unique. It is NOT your typical red ale as some here may have you think. It’s a true treat when you don’t want something crazy tasting. A standby standard. A go-to. Love me some Switchback. Remember to reintroduce the sediment. You’ll be rewarded with a much more complete and intriguing experience.

Edit: alright I’ll admit it. Switchback is my favorite beer.

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Photo of Jlabs
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass via draft at The Sagamore Resort Hotel bar

Color is a deep dark yellow

Smell is citrus and malt

Smell follows the nose

Not much hop bite on this one, but its a nice very drinkable ale that has just enough there to make you want a 2nd

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Photo of RozzieBoy
3.34/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L - Somewhat hazy apple cider look to it. Tiny white head with no lacing. Some floaties hanging around.
S - Not much to be distinguished here.
T - Not much going on here, either.
F - Fairly smooth with a light body,
O - An okay beer. Didn’t love it or hate it. Props for a cool looking bottle, though.

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Photo of Moir1994CT
2.99/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

I was kind of disappointed with this ale. Not entirely mind you but slightly. I was expecting given the price and from vermont the home of small breweries would be a tad more complex. But to my and my tastes it as run of the mill ale as ive had elswhere. Its not bad by any means. Just was not what i was expecting. The aroma was standard, taste standard, and feel standard. About as standard as an ale of this style can get. But if that is what your taste buds craves than this is not a bad brew in the least.

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Photo of PMakowski
4.13/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 Oz bottle poured into glass
Look - copper colored with a generous foam head slow to dissipate. Great lacing on glass
Smell - A Belgian yeast quality to it. There are the general aromas of hops and malt. Smells fresh like a Sierra Nevada and that is a high compliment.
Taste - Interesting, can't really state exactly what it is, there are hints of caramel, honey, grass, some fruity but not citrus hops, and the malt finish. I like it. Not too bitter but that's not the purpose of this. Smooth...

Overall, this is a very good brew. It has lots of flavor, its filling but still drinkable. It's sweet but definitely not too sweet.
I will buy it again, give this beer an A-

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Photo of Aletheyoungdudes
3.64/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Hazy look that almost mimics an apple cider. Not too much to gather from the nose. It has a smooth mouthfeel with a slight caramel taste. Pretty straight forward. I would drink it again when my palate is not feeling too adventurous.

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Photo of david90292
4.34/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Its an ale with taste crystals. Literally that yeast floating around is terrific extra flavor. You have to get over how cloudy and rustic it looks. Tastes great especially fresh off the tap. Definitely loses a little in the bottle. Interested in going and trying it fresh.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.74/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I tried this at Mews Tavern in Rhode Island. It poured a clear orangish with white head that left a spotty lace. The scent had hop hints that included some citrus flare. The taste was nicely balanced and easy to drink with some fruit notes present. The mouthfeel was lighter in body with good carbonation. Overall its a solid beer.

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Photo of Bierliebhaber3
3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This red ale pours a murky medium brown color with a slight red tint and some sediment. There is a small white head that dissipates quickly. The smell is of grain and caramel primarily. The taste is the same with kind of a weird mild citrus and very slight piney bitterness in the finish. The body is medium. This is a pretty standard malt forward red ale with a very slightly off flavor. Not much else to say.

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Photo of VoxRationis
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap into a 16 oz (473 ml) Libbey can shaped beer glass at Red Heat Tavern in Bedford, Massachusetts.
A: Pours a murky, amber to light copper color with a minimal short lived head, but rings of solid lacing.
S: Aromas grassy and grainy, almost like a Pilsner, with a strong peppery note.
T: The caramel malt backbone is the most identifiable element. Hard to characterize other flavors, although present. Perhaps a bit grainy. The bitterness serves to cancel any sweetness subtly.
M: Light-bodied with good carbonation. Clean finished
O: Enjoyable without being a stand out Amber Ale. Likely good with any food pairing. Had it with batter fried haddock which it complemented nicely.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Sampling a cellar temp bottle poured into a snifter. The bottle was bottled on May 09 2017. I think Ive had it in the cellar for about 4 of those months of existence.
The beer pours a clear amber color with LOTS of white particulate suspended in the liquid. A fizzy eggshell white head of 1 cm foams up and fades to a sturdy edge layer and one large island in my glass.
The aroma is a lot of caramel and biscuity malt. Some grainy notes mixed in with just a bit of grassy hop note. Pretty mild nose in general on this beer.
The first sip reveals a light to average body with very fine gentle carbonation. Very easy to drink brew.
Flavor is what I expect from the nose. I get caramel and biscuit notes. Also a bit of grainyness and maybe a bit of butterscotch/diacetyl. There are some mild grassy hops in the background and there is no booze appearance on this lighter beer.
Not sure if the diacetyl/butterscotch is intentional on this beer, it kind of works and may be on purpose. The beer is an easy drinker and not outstanding in any arena. Good for sessioning, not sure I would chase down a bottle again.

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Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 966 ratings