Beer Review: Amber Ales

IT’S NATIONAL BEER DAY! šŸ˜€ So with this most amazing of days, why not allow “It’s Just a Beer” to give you some suggestions on what to enjoy tonight when you can put your feet up and kick back some suds.

With it being National Beer Day, this is prime time to shine a brightened spotlight on another style of beers that don’t get the credit they deserve: Amber Ales.

Bear Naked

Bear Naked Ale

Style: American Amber/Red Ale
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 30
Brewery: Adirondack Brewery

This week’s launching point is an offering local to Northern New York. Hailing from Lake George, Bear Naked Ale is very much on the sweet and malty side of the amber ale spectrum. Immediately you get hit with a sweet blast of malts and sugars that translate into an equally sweet and malty product.

What sets this ale apart from others of the stripe is that the hops used give the beer a sweet, fruity taste as opposed to the dry bite hops tend to add to the mix.

Aside from its deliciousness, this beer is pretty widely available here in the North Country of New York. It’s a fairly common member of the beer sections of Nice and Easy gas stations and offered at the Price Chopper create-your-own six-pack dealios.

With the warm malts and sugars of this beer, I tend to look for it when it’s a little cooler out but here in the North Country, it’s a little cooler a lot of the time.

Bell's Amber

Amber Ale

Style: American Amber/Red Ale
ABV: 5.8%
Brewery: Bell’s Brewery, Inc.Ā 

Next up on our amber adventure is one of my top ten favorite beers of all time. This was one of the first craft beers I ever tried and loved it from the start.

What makes this beer so highly acclaimed — to me at least — is it is the perfect midway point between the sweet, malty, sticky side of amber ales and the near IPA hop bombs that we’ll be gettingĀ closer to soon.

Bell’s Amber is sweet and malty yet finishes with a hoppy bite that is somehow not big enough to register an IBU rating but I guess I’ll have to look into that some other time. The brewery’s info on the brew promotes it as “a mixture of toasted grain & light caramel notes with a range of floral, citrus and herbal hop notes, capped by a clean bitterness.” And I totally agree.

When I enjoy this beer most is when paired with a pile of chicken wings. Just like I did the first time I had this beer.

Since I went local to my region with the first offering, rest assured this beer is much more widely available, with Bell’s products being served up and sold in 23 states, 21 of which are on the East Coast … except New England … sorry New England …



Censored Rich Copper Ale (aka The Kronik)

Style: American Amber/Red Ale
ABV: 6.70%
IBUs: 39
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company

As far as reds go, this is going to be more on the sweet and malty side so if you are not a fan of that floral, bitter hoppy taste or you want to try to ease your way into hoppier beers, this is a good place to start.

When poured, the beer forms a thick foamy head that falls, leaving behind some beautiful lacing … a fancy way of saying the beer foam leaves some foam scum around the inside of your glass. Oddly enough, the first thing that hits the nose is a sweet chocolaty smell, which comes from the type of malts used in this brew. The beer is a brownish/amber but what else would you expect?

After a gulp or two, the beer reveals itself to be a well-balanced mix of hop bite and smooth sweet malts. Although you can smell the chocolate, personally, I don’t taste much, rather a more burnt sugar taste. At the end of the mouthful, all 39 of the beer’s IBUs come through really quick for a nice hoppy finish that balances out the sweet malts that come up front.

Personally, this is not my favorite Lagunitas product or one of my favorite ambers but for what it is, it is pretty tasty and serves an important place in the spectrum of this style of brews.

Availability-wise, being a Lagunitas product, chances are good you’re going to find this fairly regularly as either a sixer of 12 oz. bottles or on draft. According to a BeerAdvocate message board, Lagunitas distributes to 49 of these 50 states except Tennessee … sorry Tennessee …Ā 

If you’re ready to go out and pick this up to enjoy on National Beer Day, Lagunitas has a really great beer finder that will give you a Google Maps view of exactly where you can find this and any other Lagunitas brew.

If all else fails, Smithwick’s essentially grows on trees and is a great red/amber ale to boot.

Evil Crawfish
NOTE: Not really sure why the label says this is an Imperial Red IPA. The brewer’s website says it’s an Imperial Red, Untappd says it’s an Imperial Red.

Evil Crawfish

Style: Imperial/Double Red Ale
ABV: 9%
IBUs: 65
Brewery:Clown Shoes

Once crowed as one of the top 100 breweries in the world, Clown Shoes is known for producing some truly over-the-top brews with some very intense flavors. Evil Crawfish is no exception.

Bitterness-wise, this beer comes in at about double the IBUs the other beers on this list clock in at. To mask the hop bomb, the evil geniuses at Clown Shoes concocted an array of malts and sugars to give the beer an upfront sweet, caramel and fruit taste that is then shattered by the floral citrus and hop punch derived from a three prong dry hopping.

Another important characteristic to this beer is that it is an imperial or double which means the beer uses two or three the usual ingredients and packs two or three the alcoholic punch a traditional beer will pack. As far as ABV goes, these brews can start around 7-9% to pretty much as high as you can think safe for human consumption. Dogfish Head has World Wide Stout which clocks in at 18% while other popular imperials or doubles tend to hover around 10-13%.

In short, what this means is that these beers will have a very present alcohol taste, much like hard liquor. If you find you don’t like that hot alcohol taste, I suggest getting a decanter or bottle you can pour the beer out and let breath for a little bit.

With the Evil Crawfish, the alcohol burn is there but I tend to like that burn so that’s a plus for me. For freshness sake, I did pour out the second half of the bomber into my decanter with a loose cork so I have something to enjoy tomorrow.

If you’re looking for something crazier and don’t mind paying the price that comes with a high-end 22 oz. bottle of suds, I say go for it. It’s more than worth it.

Thanks for stopping by this week, folks. I know this was a little bit longer but with today being National Beer Day, I had to give a little more service to some beers that more than deserve to be a part of your inspired consumption today. So as you’re out and about looking for a beer and see these or anything else that looks good, don’t be afraid. Pick it up, try something new. It’s just a beer, after all.



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