Welcome back to another edition of Into The Pint Glass with me and the lovely Katie over at the Hungry Goat! Today, we are exploring Ambers, which is not the most well-defined beer style. Let me try to explain…
The label Amber is a bit of a catch all for several beer styles. Ambers can range from caramelly mild to malty with strong bitterness. This beer category is more defined by its color than a flavor profile.
American Amber Ale or Red Ale, is a spinoff of the Pale Ale category. This is the in-between category for beers that are not pale, but lighter than a dark ale. They range in color from copper, amber, red, to a lighter brown. Most focus on malty characteristics and medium mouthfeel. The color of the ale is from the grains used in the brewing process. Flavor profiles are not well defined for this category.
Included under the Amber label are European Amber Lagers encompassing Vienna Lagers and Oktoberfest beers. Vienna Lagers and Oktoberfests tend to be cleaner, malt forward with a balanced hoppiness and no caramel flavor as opposed to the American Red or Amber ale that are sweeter, and have more of a caramel characteristic. Vienna Lagers and Oktoberfests are more narrowly defined beer styles, with flavor profiles being much more defined than the broader label of Amber ale. Vienna Lagers are the drier of the two varieties. The Oktoberfest is differentiated by being bigger, with more maltiness and sweeter than the Vienna Lager.
The Amber label can also be applied to the German Altbier. The Altbier style is further broken into Northern German Altbier and Dusseldorf Altbier. Both Altbiers are clean, smooth malty ales, with the Dusseldorf having more hop forward flavors of spiciness or floral hops.
In addition to the American and German Ambers, we also have the Irish Red Ale. Again, featuring a malt focused flavor profile. Irish Red is distinguished by having a sweeter start and dry roasted finish.
In conclusion, the Amber label gives us a wide variation of beer styles. Most focus on the malty characteristics with variations on roastiness, bitterness, hoppiness, and sweetness as further distinguishing characteristics. I hope you enjoyed that little beertory on Amber ales, now go forth and drink!
I am drinking all local for this Into The Pint Glass, but still was able to try out three different variations of the Amber style ale. I’ve never really given much thought to the Amber beer. Ambers are not a style I seek out, but it is also not one I avoid or I’m weary of. After doing the tasting I think I’m pay a little more attention to trying Ambers, especially as a good beer to go with a meal.
Misson Amber Ale, San Diego, CA (Dusseldorf-Style Altbier)
This is one brewery P and I have yet to visit. I would be interested to try this amber again at their tasting room, because after reading their description of the beer and what I tasted does not match up at all. I’m shocked that this had an IBU of 43. Mission brewery describes their Amber as a Dusseldorf-Style Altbier. The ABV was 5%.
Smell: Malty, bready with a hint of dark fruit, like raisins.
Taste: I found this beer so bland! It had a medium to light mouthfeel, with a bread like taste that finishes bitter and clean. I did not pick up a hoppiness, just a clean bitterness at the very end with no aftertaste. Maybe we somehow got an old bottle and the hops had aged out. I certainly did not think it matched their description of the beer or the characteristics described of a dusseldorf-style altbier. If we make it to the brewery soon I will be sure to grab a taster.
Alpine Irish Red, Alpine, CA (Irish Red)
While Alpine makes some really good beers, I would not have picked their red ale to review mainly because of the label. I hate their labels. If you get an opportunity I do recommend taking a drive out to Alpine to sample a few of their beers, just get there early because it gets busy! Their food is surprising good too! P and I have been out a few times. This Red had an ABV of 6% and an IBU of only 13.
Smell: Carmel sweetness with a touch of bready/yeastiness.
Taste: Clean on the front with a sharp roasty bitterness on the finish. Its a very dry beer with a light mouth-feel. Very little hop flavor is present. Overall, a very clean tasting beer with the whisper of sweetness, but the finish makes it dry and clean. This would be a good dinner beer, because it is so clean tasting and dry.
Coronado Mermaid’s Red Ale, San Diego, CA (American Amber)
Coronado has some very solid brews going on! Almost all of the beers I’ve tried from them have been spot on, well balanced and very drinkable. This was beer had a IBU of 50 and an ABV of 5.7%. As a side note, this marked the 1000th distinct beer I’ve checked into on UnTappd!
Smell: Grainy but clean, reminds me of cereal.
Taste: This one had the most pronounced hoppiness of the three I tried. Strong bitter finish, with a hop forward taste. This had a higher carbonation, with a medium to light mouthfeel. Finishes clean after a strong bitter punch. Very drinkable beer. Again, a good beer to pair with a meal, not too heavy and tastes clean, though it does have a more pronounced bitterness than the Alpine Red.
Now, it’s your turn to show us the Ambers you tried!!
The next Into The Pint Glass on April 16th is featuring Porters!