Switchback Ale | Switchback Brewing Company

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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

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Reviews: 154 | Ratings: 822
Photo of mpedara429
3.63/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Slightly hazy amber color. one finger of off white head and low retention.

S: Floral notes, pine, and bready yeast.

T: Very much like the smell, not very malty.

M: Medium, slightly creamy body with medium carbonation.

O: Not too bad. Reminds me of a lighter version of Founders Centennial IPA.

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Photo of koutkid41
3.1/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Golden amber color with a decent white foam head. There is some lacing.

S: Not really smelling much in the way of hops, very bready and malting on the nose. Reminds me of a German Lager in aroma.

T: Tastes alot of bread and caramel malts again reminds me alot of a German lager. Slight citra taste. Although the taste is not very prominent.

M: Leaves a nice clean slightly bitter taste on the palate. Good carbonation

D: Easy to drink, lighter on the flavor and aroma then I'm used to in a Pale Ale.

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Photo of shortkut
4.01/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I purchased a bottle when visiting Vermont a month ago and left it in my refrigerator. I poured it into a pilsner, and when really cold, I would not rate it above a 3/5. I left it on the table for a little while as I made dinner and when I drank it later it was a little cooler than room temperature. The increase in temperature led to a dramatic improvement to the taste and jumped it up to a solid 4/5.

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Photo of dar482
3.87/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer comes in an extremely hazy peachy orange color.

The aroma is of citrus, grapefruit, orange, floral, and a bit of a bready malt.

The flavor follows with bright citrus of orange and fresh grapefruit. A gentle bready malt, with a bit of a grainy flavor in it. The finish is drying, floral, and a bit of bitterness.

A good session ale without much strong bitterness and a reasonable amount of hoppiness.

The beer comes in a dark amber orange color.

The aroma has tons of caramel sweetness, light peach juice, Belgian yeast, some phenolic.

The flavor follows of that extreme sweetness, hints of candied peach, Belgian yeast and breadiness, some tinges of alcohol. The extreme amount of sweetness actually hides the alcohol and we were very surprised to find out that the beer was 12%.

However, this is quite a disappointment. Overly sweet and sticky, lacking in complexity as a complete beer. Too light on the hop flavor.

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Photo of Hendry
3.9/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Rich amber color, no head in the 16 oz plastic cup served at a Johnny Winter concert.

Aroma is mostly malty and brown sugar sweet, hops barely present.

Taste is the best part of this local ale, it has a sweetness to it with an almost English Bitter finish, semi creamy.

Mouthfeel is medium,carbonation was relatively low but not bad.

Lots of to do about this ale when it was first available in stores, but this is a relatively pedestrian offering that has some good qualities that are likable.Worth trying at least once.

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Photo of ThisLadyLovesBeer
3.13/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A = unfiltered orange-amber color, a quickly dissipating head that leaves no lacing on the glass.
S = Lightly flowery, I can smell hops at first sniff.
T = I found that the malts are outplayed by the hops in this brew.
M=carbonation is okay, medium body but somehow watery as well.

Overall, I was hoping for more balance between the hops and the malts, but found the hops took over and left a bitter hoppy aftertaste. The finish was somewhat clean, except for the aforementioned hoppiness. It is a lighter feeling ale than most in its class, but I think would be a good pub choice with burgers or a wrap. Best way I would describe this is that it's kind of like a "Light IPA."

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

Serving type. i have had on tap many many times but for this review it came from a bottle

Appearance. bit cloudy but expected as it says it will be on the bottle. nice golden to amber color

Smell. Not a lot of hop profile but very nice balance of malt and hop.

Taste. very balanced. nice malt taste and good hop to round it out. fantastically refreshing brew for after a ski or boarding day. Goes great with all types of BBQ

Mouth feel higher end of light body lower end of medium. very very smooth and drinkable.

Overall. this is a quality brew. when we go out for eats in Vermont and they have it, i get it. as a professional chef ill have to say this is my favorite beer to pair with all foods! looking foreword to the brown ale and porter

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Photo of beergoot
3.42/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Review taken from notes dated October 17th, 2013 while vacationing in New England...

Appearance: cloudy orange; thin white head.

Smell: warm bread; light fruit character.

Taste: light, grainy malt flavors; mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: crisp & dry; tingling carbonation.

Decent ale. Served too cold to fully appreciate flavor possibilities.

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Photo of cavedave
2.79/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours an almost clear light amber with an inch of off white foam for a moment finally a ring and island. Decent legs of lace cling.

Not much going on in the aroma. I catch a hint of some grainy sweet and a bit of herbal and grassy hop in this light strength aroma, not much else. Hope this gets better.

Tastes more like an English Pale, some herbally hop and hints of tart yeast, lackluster sweet, and really not a whole lot to say about this, good or bad.

Low carb., and light viscosity, not a great flavor profile, and not a clean linger nor is it refreshing.

Don't really recommend this beer. It's not that it's terrible, just that it is far surpassed by at least 300 easier to get,less expensive, and better pale ales.

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Photo of horshack7
3.53/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It pours a hazy amber with copper hues. On top is a head about one finger thick that is an off white and a little rocky.

Aroma: Caramel malts with some light molasses notes and brown bread. Citrus is faint but there are notes of raisins with twinge of pear towards the back.

Taste: Bready in the front and very crisp. Citrus is up there to with notes of grapefruit and pear. Wisps of lemon with a splash of honey and a nice dry finish.

Notes: A very solid beer that has a good twist on that being unfiltered a good pick up. Cheers.

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Photo of lancecenter
3.53/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Hazy orange/golden color, two fingers of head that quickly dissipate. Good lacing.

S - Biscuity malts, oily hops, and fruit at the end.

T/M - Surprisingly malty for the low alcohol content. The hops seem to be missing on the tongue.

O - Much better than expected. I wouldn't mind visiting the brewery next time I had to VT.

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Photo of MrIncognito
3.28/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A - poured from a bomber, was a dark amber/brown body with a 2-finger khaki head that faded after a couple minutes and left decent lacing. TONS and tons of sediment floating in this beer. I don't think I've ever seen so much before in a beer

S - Biscuit malt-forward all the way with a touch of light piney hops but very subdued. Mild bready sweetness.

T&M - Light body with minimal carbonation so goes down pretty easy. Taste follows the smell: malt forward giving it a bread crust flavor with very minimal hop bitterness. Moderately sweet with no trace of alcohol. Not a whole lot going on

O - very drinkable and sessionable but left much to be desired. Definitely not a bad beer but I really wanted more flavor out of this bottle-conditioned, unfiltered beer. Still can't get over all the sediment!

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Photo of neophilus
3.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Copper colored brew, opaque, light white head. Earthy hop aroma with some malt scent.

More earthy hops in the flavor, but dominated by dry biscuity malt. Some yeast esters with a hint of chalk. A bit subdued for a pale ale, hop bitterness is adequate but the malt dominates the flavor. More on the English side of the pale ale spectrum. Kind of middle-of-the-road but still a solid brew, flavor is not flat and has good character. Would be a good recommendation for someone who doesn't like IPA's or citrus/pine hops.

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Photo of poop_brew
3.45/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Had it on tap at a local bar. Served in a 16oz. pint glass.

S - Not a lot going on. A bit of hop, and malt with a citrus. Mostly malt.

T - A light hop with a malty finish. Orange citrus to finish it off.

M - A great mouthfeel. The beer is easily consumed and finishes so smooth.

O - Since I live in the town it all started I think I am over the whole Switchback craze, but if it's on special or a good price it's always worth it. Monday's at Drink they have $2 switchback drafts. Stellar deal.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.12/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

22oz bottle purchased as a single from somewhere in the Middlebury/Burlington area.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" light beige head over the clear golden amber brew. Head holds on well, with average lacing. It should be noted that there is a lot of sediment in the bottle, which I did not roughly pour into the glass. Aroma is earthy yet balanced.

Taste is pale malt sweetness, balanced with earthy hops bitterness. Mouthfeel is a touch rocky, with drinkability being just okay. Something just seems a bit off to me.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tap: Poured a hazy amber color ale with a medium foamy head with OK retention and some lacing. Aroma of citrus based hops with some light caramelized malt. Taste is also dominated by citrus hoppy notes with light bitterness notes and some light caramelized malt notes. Body is about average with good carbonation. No major complexity with average hops profile but good drinkability factor.

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Photo of Justmalt
3.94/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

crisp, clean taste with dry finish. Shows excellent fermentation. The malt taste is complex with a hint of biscuit. Hops are not over done so the malt flavors come through. This is a malt forward pale ale and it is refreshing. The moderate alcohol level allows one to have a few too.

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Photo of timfelix
3.92/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

had this on 2 occasions. First time I did not like it. 2nd time, both my wife and I liked it (unusual). The 1st time it was served at a bar that really goes for ice-cold; so I think the flavor did not come out. The 2nd time, at a different bar, it was served at a cold-but not icy temperature.
It tasted quite good. I never would have tried it again except that the bartender said it was their favorite and offered us a taste.
It has some caramel flavors, some bite from hops and a nice wholesome flavor- perhaps being unfiltered leaves a faint touch of yeast flavor. None of the flavors overpowered.
Overall, good stuff for routine drinking. Could be considered a "session" beer, since it is not too high in alcohol content, and has a balanced but not overpowering, but complex flavor.
If you try it, I'd suggest against drinking it ice cold.

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

Consumed 3/13/13

Appearance: Lightly hazy, copper with some gold and amber highlights - pours from the bottle with some enthusiastic carbonation that forms a big, fluffy white head - fades to a small, fluffy white head, leaves some nice lacing

Smell: Mild, pale malts and some spiciness - clean pale grains, with a some caramel malts as well - some earthy/spicy notes, that seem like they are either coming from the yeast or the hops, hard to discern because this is decidedly not hoppy - some grassy notes, some light sweetness

Taste: Mild, balanced, and very pleasant - clean, grainy, pale malts, with a touch of caramel malts - lightly earthy, spicy - some grassy malts - mildly bitter - lightly bready, like a soft white bread - some fruity esters become more apparent as this warms up, imparting some banana and clove

Mouthfeel: Light, nicely carbonated, extremely smooth, stupidly quaffable

Overall: Solid, best with food

This was one of the first beers that I had on tap after turning 21, and I had it a bunch of times when I was in Burlington. This bottled iteration is very similar to what I remember. Mild, lightly spicy, and good - but not fantastic. It's extremely drinkable and would be better suited to being canned in tallboys. Because it's not like any other breweries do that in that area of Vermont...

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2.66/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.5

Bomber to tulip.
Sampled 13APR13.

[A] Pours with a beautiful bright white foamy head, dense but fluffy, and excellent retention. Minutes later a chunky collar remains just below a thick, solid sheet of lace along the entire glass. The body is dark orange with above average haze. I don't love the color of this beer, but every other characteristic is fantastic.

[S] Subdued aroma. Minimal and nondescript hop presence. A strong metallic edge plus a hint of sulfur are noticeable. Lightly toasted bready malts provide the backdrop. The second pour - including the yeast - lends to a more enjoyable nose and introduces a well rounded fruity aroma.

[T] Light front end sweetness. And low bitterness on the back end. The flavor is a little vague from a hop and malt perspective - although it is well balanced. The yeast actually seems to be the most important part of the flavor profile, which adds the same fruit quality captured in the aroma. Mild caramel malts are deep in the background.

[M] Smooth at first with a fine tingling carbonation setting just before midpalate, and increasing in intensity all the way through the finish. The body is medium. The finish is medium-sweet.

[O] The appearance and mouthfeel of Switchback Ale are great. But the aroma and flavor are lacking. And, unfortunately those scores count a lot more. I doubt I would drink again.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.74/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Yeast was allowed to mix with the beer prior to and during the pour. A medium amber color, with a fair amount of suspended sediment/yeast. A thin light yellow head on top, didn't change much in size, and had just a bit of cling. Smell was slightly fruity, a bit of banana over the undertones of wheat. Flavor was a bit of bitter on the backend, with a slightly sweet grain up front. Felt ok in the mouth, except at the end of the sip, somehow it seemed to dry out the mouth. A bit off putting. Overall, a solid very drinkable beer. Great gateway for macro drinkers.

Bottled 3/13/2013

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Photo of stephenjmoore
3.69/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A- Amber colored body with a sticky white head. Tons of lacing all over the glass. Light comes through the body, but there is some cloudiness.

S- Caramel malts, pilsner malts, grainy bread aromas, fresh grass, a hint of citrus.

T- Lots of malts come through. I can taste caramel malts and pilsner malts, but I also get a burnt toast flavor. Not a bad flavor, just very different. Some grassy hops, a slight herbal note.

M- Medium bodied, medium carbonation, drinkability is good.

O- Not a bad beer, but nothing I would seek out. Very interesting malt combination, with little in the way of hops coming through.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I picked up a bottle of Switchback Ale on a recent trip to Vermont. The beer pours a clear orange/amber color with a small, creamy head on top. The foam fades away quickly leaving only a few spots of lace on the glass. Some sediment at the bottom of the bottle made its way into the beer.

The aroma isn't very strong but has some bready malt, orange citrus and a little grass.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is creamy with moderate carbonation. The flavor has nice notes of bready malt, caramel, and orange citrus. it finishes dry with mild bitterness and a touch of grass flavor. Once gone the citrus and caramel lingers on the palate.

This is a nicely balanced beer that leans a bit towards the malt side. A good session beer that would be great with a burger.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.26/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-hazy amber color with a nice white head and decent lacing

S-mild malt scent, grass, minimal hop aroma

T-malt, light citrus, pine, slight grassy and herbal flavors, decent bitter finish

F-light to medium body with moderate carbonation, crisp and clean

O-an average pale ale, easy drinking

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Photo of JMScowcroft
2.6/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I snagged one of these in the new 1pt 6oz (bomber) bottles since they started shipping these around in stores, they are still selling quite fast but if you are out and about on the delivery day you are almost guaranteed to get one.

Look - Bottle is clean and inviting, good marketing. Pours thick and caramel, frothy, full head. Unfiltered in all its glory. I followed the recommendation of thumb cover and half pour to mix the yeast back in, once or twice.

Smell - Rather plain, unimaginative, lightly scented, surprisingly lacking for what appears to be such a full bodied beer.

Taste - Heavily carbonated, rather dull flavor, not quite as good as it is on-tap. Almost like a light red ale without a full body.

Mouthfeel - Nothing special here, goes down rather smooth with a slight bitter aftertaste. Leaves the palette rather quickly, you will forget how it tastes between sips.

Overall - Not an amazing beer, but not bad, I would say it is about as average as it gets for a craft beer.

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Switchback Ale from Switchback Brewing Company
3.55 out of 5 based on 822 ratings.
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