Wednesday, January 5, 2011

An Evening of Amber Ale

It could have been an amber ale shootout, but it was a lot calmer than that. I nice relaxing night with three amber ales lined up; Boont Amber Ale from Anderson Valley, 5 AM Saint from Brew Dog and Levity Amber Ale from ODell's. On hand was a keg of my own amber ale (Red Hopper), should the need arise.

First up was Boont Amber Ale, the beer pours a lovely amber colour with a thin but lasting off-white head. Very floral aroma with hints of pine and citrus. Quite a thin body, I would have expected something a little more chewy. The caramel and toffee flavours of this beer are quite strong, followed by a lasting strong bitterness. I have to say that this beer is nothing out of the ordinary and unfortunatley as it warms up it doesn't improve. An ok beer but I have had far nicer amber ales than this.

Next up was Brew Dog 5AM Saint. I have to admit that I had heard a lot of good things about this beer and so I was looking forward to something good. It pours a nice red colour with a thick off-white head. Aroma is dominated by citrus hops with a nice sharp quality. Medium bodied with a nice mouthfeel. I have to say I found this to be a fantastically flavoursome beer, citrus and pine up front, caramel malt in the middle, finished off with a nice strong level of bitterness. A truly great beer, however, the flavour is so heavy and intense, I am not sure if I could drink more than a couple of these! Definitely worth picking up a few bottles.

Last, but not least, was Levity Amber Ale from O'Dell's, a brewery I really like. The beer pours a light amber colour with a thick cream head. Lovely marmalade and citrus aroma. Light bodied and immensely drinkable, but a little too light for me. I am a big fan of O'Dell's but this is just a little too lightweight for me.

I think the key to brewing a good amber ale is balance, you need to balance a strong caramel and toffee malt base with a big hit of hops up front and a nice strong level of bitterness at the end. I think the beer that comes closest to this out of the three I tried was 5AM Saint. Boont Amber was ok, while Levity was very dissapointing. This is still one of my favourite styles of beer, however out of these three, probably 5AM Saint is the only one I will be buying again.

PS, I did finish out the night with a few glasses of my own Red Hopper, and while it was not as good as the Brew Dog (although more drinkable), I thought it was easily the superior of the other two!

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