If craft beer has a style that tastes like late October, it’s got to be the amber ale. Red in color and carrying a bit more malty weight than a pale or a lager, this beer is built to accompany scarves and playoff baseball. It’s also great with classic Americana dishes like burgers and onion rings. Fans of medium-bodied beer with notes of caramel and nuts will find pure bliss in the amber ale, and part of its appeal is its middle-of-the-road-ness.
After all, it’s a beer perfectly wedged between refreshing summer options and hearty winter sippers, pulling traits evenly from either side of the spectrum. Even those who don’t claim to be that into beer often find some redeeming qualities in the amber. And unlike IPA, there’s not an overwhelming number of amber ales on the market. Just a reasonable amount of quaffable ales, some better than others, that greet the crisp weather wonderfully.
So, ditch the ubiquitous Fat Tire and try one of these decidedly more interesting amber ales this season.
Rich, nutty, and balanced, this amber from California is among the best, crafted since 1987. There is a warm and subtle baking spice element to the beer, which is rounded out by four hop varieties and two types of malts. The Boont Amber finds a way to be simultaneously crisp and rich.
Alaskan has been turning out its tasty amber for many years now. The beer has become so popular it’s pretty much synonymous with the Alaskan name. A nice balance of toasty notes and hops, it’s a beer.
This Oregon-brewed beer is a hybrid of sorts, blending an IPA with an amber or red ale. It touts an incredibly satisfying hop bill atop a nice malty backbone that offers some toffee notes. And with a little more in the ABV department (7%), it’s a great pre-bedtime nightcap.
Michigan brewery Bell’s makes a dandy of an amber. It’s got a little bit of everything, from citrus notes to herbal qualities, along with toffee flavors and a bit of nuttiness. And it’s quite pretty in the glass, pouring a robust honeyed amber hue.
One of the more buzzed-about ambers in the American beer scene, Zoe is a deftly made example from the East Coast. It’s woodsy, with dried fruit, raisin, and baking chocolate notes. The hops, a blend of Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe, shine through brightly, cutting into the underlying richness.
The name comes from the indigenous group that once called the Gulf Coast home. Like the Ninkasi beer above, it’s part IPA, with a nice zap of bitterness to counteract the bakery-esque flavors of the malt bill.
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