Brew Review

Beer Review – Switchback Brewing Company Extra Pale Ale

Switchback Extra Pale Ale

With summer winding to a close, we (and by we, I mean Benita, The Urchins, and yours truly) headed up to Vermont for one last trip before school started up again (I really wanted school to start again, but with the seemingly endless stream of homemade lunches, after school activities, and parent nights, I’m not sure what I was thinking!). Anyway, while enjoying the great outdoors by day, I sought out local craft beer for the evening activities. I found a good six pack from Otter Creek and a nice bomber from Rock Art and then came upon a bottle of the Extra Pale Ale from Switchback Brewing Company of Burlington, VT.

Switchback was founded in 2002 with an SBA loan, the brewing equipment from a failed Arizona brewer, and the dedication of Bill Cherry. Today, Switchback is one of 30 or so craft brewers in Vermont. And, after a three year expansion (2008-2010) and the introduction of a bottling line (2012), they produce 7 quality unfiltered, naturally carbonated beers that run the gamut from their original Switchback Ale (2002) to their newest Citra-Pils Keller Bier (2015).

Before we begin the review, here’s what Switchback has to say about the EPA:

Our Extra Pale Ale is a hop-forward pale ale that employs an abundant use of whole cone hops. We designed our Extra Pale Ale utilizing Vermont grown hops from the UVM Hop Extension Program. In this beer we have used Centennial, Chinook, and Cascade hops in their whole cone form, allowing us to selectively pull lively aromas from them through a brief steeping at the end of the boil as well as dry-hopping during cellaring. We use a malt bill that is tailored to complement and showcase the hops, which, when coupled with a gentle bitterness, make this beer all about the glorious aromas and flavors of these hops.

And, now for the review…

  • Appearance: Unfiltered & fantastic! Cloudy orange blossom honey with a nice bit of foam.
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Aroma: Pine trees and citrus rinds (lots of grapefruit with just a hint of lemon zest).
  • Taste: Medium body and flavor; not at all a hop bomb like the aroma had suggested. Crisp and refreshing upfront followed by a good balance of sweet and hops mid-palate and ending with a mildly bitter finish.

The Verdict

I’m not usually a fan of unfiltered beers. I find they are a little too thick and have a little too much funk going on (especially at the bottom of the bottle). I found none of what I would consider off-putting characters here. This was just a nice, well-crafted, albeit mild, extra pale ale.

2 replies »

  1. Nice review! This beer sounds lovely. Did you bring one back?

    Re: the funk at the bottom of the bottle, Switchback Brewing was kind enough to send the following link our way:

    Now we know what to do when confronted with unfiltered beer funk!


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