Switchback Brewing Co. Brown Ale

By: Beer Baron PA

Switchback, switch’back, [swich-bak,] swiCHˌbak, (swchbk)


1. A highway, as in a mountainous area, having many hairpin curves.

2. A zigzag track arrangement for climbing a steep grade.

3. (In Beer Barən’s own wərds:)

Definition: A bi(ə)r (pronounced beer) produced by Switchback Brewing Co. based in Burlington VT.

With a presence of 11 years, Switchback produces only two different beers at one time. Their signature ‘Switchback,’ is brewed year round while three other bi(ə)rs are produced in rotations. One of which is the Switchback Slow-fermented Brown Ale. This has been chilling in my stock for little time and will be my first look at a bottled Switchback product. All Switchbacks are unfiltered. In fact, the company has been brewing unfiltered bi(ə)rs since late 2002.

Wherever you are in Vermont, you can be sure that more than likely, some kind o’ Switchback will be served on tap.

As far as distribution, since 2006 Albany has been receiving shipments of the bi(ə)r and in 2007, New Hampshire as well. Those of you on the skirts of the Northeast, and further out, well… I’m not quite sure what to say. Ever experienced a switchback?

At any length, elbowing your way to the beer section through dazed and confused people in local grocery stores, the bright blue Switchback label isn’t hard to miss. I was never too attracted to it, honestly. But the Slow-fermented Brown Ale intrigued me.

Switchback-Slow-Fermented-Brown-AleFirst Impression: Beautiful label, (I am a fan of short and sweet.) The brown serif font is attractive. Easy for the eyes to gauge. Good price for a bomber. I’m also found of the 22 ouncers.

Pour: Pours smoothly. Only up and close aromas are evident with a wavering wheat and yeasty note. For some reason, the aromas transport me. Suddenly I am among the autumn season with the weather undressing from her summer clothes. The earth gushes with fall crops, and the land wears caramel leaves like a leather glove. Does a particular beer transport you ever? Think about it. This one certainly did for me. Perhaps it is those hops that relax the brain. Perhaps it is the magic of a Vermont Brew…

But anyways, on to taste!

Taste: Great initial taste that fades really fast. Roasted malts, sweet, with burnt caramel aftertaste. Very shy beer. I mean to say that the quality is great. The beer doesn’t linger. It’s a throwback kind o beer. Something to drink easily without looking for something the gods made. Something to enjoy with folks. The drinkability must come from fermenting at a cooler temperature. In fact they say the “conditions stress the yeast, resulting in a slow methodical fermentation…flavors are clean, somewhat like a lager… creamy smooth mouth-feel.” Yea. I’d say so.

Grade: B

ABV: 5.2%

IBU: 26


Switchback Brown Ale