Thursday, October 17, 2013

Switchback Roasted Red

The original Switchback is undoubtedly one of the most well-known beers in Vermont, as one can only obtain it in this state and on draught. It is no big secret now that Switchback WILL be bottling their beers soon. Although there is no rush, their plant engineer has notified me that the bottling line is currently being set up and that they will be fine tuning the recipe to be released on the shelves starting as early as January 2013. The Roasted Red is one of three rotating seasonal brews along with Slow Fermented Brown Ale and Porter.

Alcohol Content: ~ 5.5%
IBU: ?
Malts: ?
Hops: Simcoe, Amarillo

Price: $5.00
Medium: Pint Glass

Aroma: Malty sweet with notes of dried fruit and a finishing touch of roasted grain. Roasted grain is comparable to a lightly toasted coffee. Fermentation character provides a generous amount of fruity esters which plays into the deep malt sweetness. The rich maltiness balances the Simcoe and Amarillo hops in a unique way by almost playing down the hop character. Some orange zest and resiny hop aromas blend nicely and keeps the sweetness in check.
Appearance: Like all Switchback, the Roasted Red is cloudy example of an unfiltered beer. Poured a deep red/ amber and a golden color on the bottom of the glass. Bartender did not allow for any head and beer spilling over the glass as she handed it too me. No sign of bubbles. After a few sips I agitated it to allow for a tan head to develop and linger around the rim of the glass. No lacing.
Flavor: Initially very malty at the front with a roasted grain finishing in the middle and back of the palate. Finish and aftertaste can be described as bitter coffee and chocolate notes, although this is very light and undoubtedly smooth. Maltiness reminiscent of biscuit, bread, or toast and partakes almost a nutty dryness. Hop flavors strike a balance with the malty sweetness and are incredibly smooth, depicting tangerines with a bit of a citrus and resiny aftertaste. Mild fruity esters.
Mouthfeel: Malty and yeasty providing a moderate amount of chewiness. This is met with low carbonation and may be perceived as watery. A good amount of body is provided by the yeast. Very layered with distinct maltiness balanced by bitterness and roastiness that does not dry out too much. Smooth with alcohol well hidden. Not much viscosity - easily approachable for a summer beer.
Overall Impression: My best guess is a small portion of Munich malt (or comparable) contributes to the sweetness and body. They also achieve a pleasant roasted grain finish that compliments the beers complexity. I noted a slightly spicy character (from grains?) towards the end of the session. Alcohol becomes more noticeable as the beer warms - not sure why this is the case. Along with the original Switchback, this beer doesn't really fall into a category of styles.

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