Switchback Ale | Switchback Brewing Company

156 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Switchback AleSwitchback Ale

Brewed by:
Switchback Brewing Company
Vermont, United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by kaszeta on 08-06-2003

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 156 | Ratings: 832
Photo of wattoclone
3.57/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Unusual bottle conditioned ale with a reddish brown hue. Unfiltered with a fruity, flowery aroma. Taste is unique for this style: light malt and fruit with a mild hop finish. Overall very drinkable and pleasant. As is usual for US craft beers, is is somewhat over hopped, IMO, with an IBU of 28.

 296 characters

Photo of Ian_Hayes7
3.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured with the yeast mixed in as recommended on the bottle. Dark honey, golden brown in color, very hazy with lots of flecks of yeast (as expected given the mixing). Not much of a head, but leaves some light lacing on the sides. The aromas are rather mild, some yeastiness, biscuits and crackers with a touch of sharpness. The taste is also pretty mild, but not in a bad way. It follows the nose with a light touch of caramel and faint earthiness. Light, but adequate carbonation, medium-bodied. Nothing jumps out about this beer, but everything fits together and it is very easy and satisfying to drink.

 611 characters

Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
3.94/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on draft at The New American Grill in Londonderry VT.

This is a classic. I remember first having it when I had just turned 21 visiting VT with my family. This was before the huge VT IPA craze, and something this balanced and malty hit the spot after a long day out in the snow. I can safely say it still lives up to that description. Excellent beer.

 355 characters

Photo of Holderness
3.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a turbid pale orange with a fizzy white head that dissipates quickly and leaves minimal lacing. Although the head is disappointing, the haziness of this brew gives it a rather refined appearance, much like the brews made by Tree House and Trillium breweries. Mostly mild malts and a little hoppiness on the nose. Not much to report on that front... Taste is an enjoyable combination between barley malts, oats, citric hops, and a faint herbal bitterness. Solid mouthfeel, but the finish is a tad too bitter. While not my favorite beer, this is a classic go-to when I'm in Vermont since it's just so damn cheap ($3.50/bomber) while also being very drinkable and local.

 673 characters

Photo of BoldRulerVT
3.88/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed dozens of times on draft and in bottles.
A nice medium amber color with low head that drops off.
Aromas are a lot of maltiness, caramel with low level hops in background.
Flavors are in line here too. Balanced.
Mouthfeel is soft and nice.
Overall, Switchback is a great Amber Ale.

 288 characters

Photo of BRiddoch
4.07/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark hazy gold with a 1/2" head that quickly dissipated. Noticed a small amount of yeast residue at the bottom of the bottle. Clean crisp smell with a faint hoppy odor. Very refreshing taste with a slight bitterness. Went down smooth with a pleasant aftertaste. Good every day drinking beer. Enjoyed it.

 318 characters

Photo of macrosmatic
3.51/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes. Consumed 7/27/16. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Cigar City goblet.

A: Pours a hazy golden amber, with a thin off-white ring of foam. Has fairly low visible carbonation, and some chunky floaters as well. This isn't a particularly pretty beer.

S: Lightly toasted malts, toffee and light caramel sweetness. Grassy and noble hops. Decent, but not a huge aroma.

T: Toasted malts, grassy and light citrus hops. Biscuity malt sweetness and toffee. There's maybe just a bit of oxidation (cardboard) as well - not terrible, but I don't see any freshness information on the bottle. Some more citrus, herbal, and grassy hops sweet up, and ultimately finishes fairly balanced.

M: Body is a bit on the light side. Fairly low alcohol presence. It seems a bit over-carbonated for style, which accentuates the light body.

O: Not my favorite beer ultimately. It seems to be a decently made, balanced amber ale, and I’m not sure I'd find a lot of overt faults here other than the oxidation (and I can't find any freshness information on the bottle). But it’s a little bland, and does nothing to inspire. It's certainly nothing to seek out, but if there was a keg at a party I’d drink it.

 1,206 characters

Photo of DarkSideOfTheMoon
3.4/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Tough review because Switchback Ale is really a good "go-to" brew but comparing to other ales, it's certainly middle-of-the-road. Pours an orange-amber color with lots of leftover yeast (which doesnt bother me but may bother others). Retains a thin head well after the pour. Smell is biscuit & crackers and not a whole lot else. Taste follows the nose but with a faint hint of hops and apricots. Mouthfeel is wonderful and is very drinkable. A go-to ale if you're in that sort of mood.

 485 characters

Photo of wbizbot
4.31/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

As a good and wise friend once said about Switchback Ale,

" It's not the best beer, but it is the most perfect beer. "

Reliable. Un-pretentious. Well balanced. The perfect unfiltered ale for daily use.

 205 characters

Photo of stephens101
3.73/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

One of the last beers from a recent New England haul. Had many really good brews, and some not so good ones, so here's hoping for the best.

Light, hazy amber in color with a finger of tan froth. Caramel and persimmon in the aroma. More fruit and caramel on the tongue before a faint hop presence is noticed. Light to medium in body.

Not a huge let down here, but nothing special either.

 394 characters

Photo of daudelin2000
3.79/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I've never been a huge Switchback fan as I believe there are SO many better Vermont beers. However, I can appreciate what it has done for the craft beer movement in Vermont. If you were already a craft beer fan before you tried Switchback, you probably weren't blown away by it. If you were not a fan of craft beer, Switchback is the kind of beer that could be a gateway beer into the craft beer world. In any case, here's my official review.

It pours a copper color with a decent off white head. Smell is mostly bready malts with some caramel mixed in. No hop aroma detectable. Taste is caramel sweetness with a slight earthy flavor. Almost no real hop flavor or bitterness detected. Pretty easy drinking, but mostly because it lacks any big flavors. As I've said, it pales in comparison to many other Vermont brews, but I would still select this over the Buds/Coors/Miller's of the world any day of the week.

 911 characters

Photo of MamaHoney
4.6/5  rDev +29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a true american amber ale. There is nothing too fancy. It has a nice crisp pour with a darker tone and heavier aroma, but a lighter and almost fruity taste. Unfiltered and smooth - it's no wonder this is a staple for so many locals.

 240 characters

Photo of Mongrel
3.52/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a bit of an odd one, especially considering how fondly VT locals seem to feel about this beer. It sorta defies categorization. A hazy, unfiltered, only mildly hopped amber ale. It's a bit nutty and biscuity, but also possesses some witbier qualities. Almost like a Fat Tire that's been mellowed by some wheat. Pretty drinkable, but not remarkable.

 356 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Switchback Brewing Co. "Switchback Ale"
12 fl. oz. brown glass bottle, "Bottled On: 02.25.16" on 06.10.16
$2.00 @ 802 BWS, Burlington, VT

Switchback Ale pours a hazy copper body with golden highlights beneath a creamy head of white that holds well and leaves spots and streaks of lace about the glass as it goes.

The aroma expresses caramel malts as well as just a tinge of chocolate or cocoa, yeast, and just a hint of herbal/leafy hops.

The flavor opens up a bit, adding some non-specific fruitiness into the mix (some apple, very soft berry, ... ?), and perhaps a bit of a floral character to its hops. It's nicely balanced with a leaning towards sweetness although it does dry readily in the finish, leaving a minor bit of bitterness and some floral and then herbal hops lingering.

One of the best things about it, however, is it's natural conditioning which leaves it very fine-bubbled and smooth across the palate. It feels like a "real ale" because it is a real ale! And the combination of sweetish caramelish malt, floral and leafy hops, yeast, and subtle fruit is also quite English in nature. Utterly quaffable!

 1,125 characters

Photo of stakem
2.74/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A bomber poured into a pint glass. The brew appears a clear copper color with off-white cap. It smells of minerals/carbonics light fruity alcohol and buttery diacetyl with a faint backing of caramel malt. The taste is sweet with minimal caramel malt, fruity alcohol, mineral character and some buttery diacetyl. A slight bitter aftertaste and tea-like astringency is left lingering.

This is medium in body with modest carbonation. Lets be honest - this really is not good. When my buddy told me he was bringing me some beer back from his VT trip, I was excited to try something new. Now that I had it, I hope I never have to drink it again.

 641 characters

Photo of dbl_delta
3.83/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Undated bottle into pint glass. Red-amber with an off-white head. Initial impression is roasted malt, bready/biscuity, with a slighly bitter finish. Medium mouthfeel, medium carbonation. Quite refreshing and drinkable. Good beer.

 234 characters

Photo of edward_boumil
4.14/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Solid, super easy drinking beer, especially on draft. Tons of toasty malt, even slightly crisp hint of citrus on the finish. Smooth finish, but tons of flavor and a touch of bitterness as well.
Honestly this is a simple beer, but for those who appreciate simplicity, quality ingredients and balanced flavors (me) this is a great beer.

 336 characters

Photo of Butznutz
4.37/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

God this is a great beer and one of the treasures of Vermont in that it is usually on tap anywhere within the state. Super easy drinking with a nice breaded malt backbone. Pours hazy and unfiltered. Medium body, medium finish with slight toffee/nut. Surprised it is rated as low as it is. Would drink this all day

 319 characters

Photo of 6470zzy
3/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours hazy and golden with a one finger head that settles down and lingers throughout the session with nice lacing.

Smell: Very mild, some dust and grain

Taste: Subtle hop bitterness with a dry crisp finish

Mouth-feel: Medium body and carbonation

Drink-ability: Definitely an easy drinking beer and not one that it going to tire out your taste buds.

 365 characters

Photo of Kinger22
4.18/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Overall a solid brew. A good level of carbonation, with an enjoyable hop/malt combo of a finish. Beautiful color poured from its bottle into a beer glass.

 154 characters

Photo of jared-beer
4.13/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Great beer. Very easy to drink, and for all the local "macrobrews" in Vermont this one always seems to be the cheapest on tap and easily available in most Vermont retail locations. this slightly amber ale is very rich going down and has a very pleasant malty sweet aftertaste that's very satisfying. Although it's a darker rich beer if never seems to bloat me of leave me feeling overstuffed. Overall, great brew will drink again many times.

 445 characters

Photo of ManapuaMan
3.34/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An unfiltered everyman beer that has a clean malt/hop taste. Best served cold after a hearty day of activity. Nothing outstanding but it'll satisfy, for sure. Real easy drinker.

 177 characters

Photo of HamdenHector
3.54/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: hazy; burnished gold in color; 1 finger ivory head that receded to a thin collar; very little lacing;

S: quite bready; pale malt and toffee in the background;

T: sweet malt with toffee and nut behind it; more nutty on the finish with mild bitterness;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation; dry finish;

O: enjoyable; would pair well with a lot of food;

 359 characters

Photo of RABouffard
4.14/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Unfiltered amber color, well-balanced with complex malts and a mild hop finish. A refreshing creamy, smooth brew, easy drinking, not extreme in any way, just a pleasant above average pale ale.

 194 characters

Photo of BranfordBound
3.33/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bomber dated mid-September into a pint glass. Comes out a very cloudy amber color with a white head that leaves great lacing. Smell is very weak, some grain husk and yeast at the most. Very mild flavor, quick sweetness and breadiness, bitter hops at the end, somewhat dry mouthfeel. It's a tasty beer but it's very basic. Should be good for coverting those macro drinkers.

 388 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
3.55 out of 5 based on 832 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

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.