A style first made popular by brewers in California and the Pacific Northwest, American amber ale is a descendant of lager or bitter ale. American amber beer got its start in breweries that used American grain and hop varieties, but other than that the beer has a pretty ambiguous quality. The color should be somewhere in the amber range, but it can range from coppery brown to shades of red. Most of the time the beer should be quite clear, unless it is dry hopped, then it comes out hazy. It goes well with barbecue, cheddar and pecan pie. Although the style is varied and sometimes hazy, below are the top five beers that can be considered American amber beers.
Considered by some to be the iconic centerpiece of the craft beer movement, the Fat Tire has its origins in a bike ride that took place through the Belgian countryside. Brewery New Belgium uses all-European ingredients to create an amber beer in Colorado, representing the American spirit of craft brewing ingenuity and irresistible imagination. English floral hops, the subtle sweetness of malt and the spicy, fruity notes of Belgian yeast form a balanced yet magical combination. With a smell of sweet biscuits and caramel malts, it has a medium body and a clean finish on the palate.
Published only once a year from Tröegs Brewery, whole Nugget hop flowers are added to a hop container, resulting in a burst of citrus, resin and pine. If you are a hop, this beer is available in the spring when the new humulus lupulus crop arrives in Tröegs. Despite the large amounts of hops used during the brewing process, Nugget Nectar manages to balance the overall flavor with some caramel and malt sweetness that shows up halfway through. The finish is similar to the balance of flavors mentioned above, leaving a delectable aftertaste and a desire for more.
Introduced in 2013 by Green Flash Brewery Co., the original brew had an ABV of 7%, but the new recipe is 8.1%. Available all year round, Hop Head Red is a happy union of Double India Pale and Red Ale. Captivating floral aromas and seductive hop flavors are the result of dry hopping with Amarillo, Warrior and Nugget hop mounts. The aroma presents subtle resins and fruits as well as some cereals. The sweet malt and caramel flavors still manage to punch through the hops, creating a light body with an almost watery mouthfeel.
The beer that helped build Bell Brewery, Inc., Bell’s Amber Ale features both toasty and sweet caramel notes from carefully selected malts. Deep herbal and citrus hop aromas balance the malt, and it’s all topped off with a clean bitterness. It tastes sweet and caramel, with a small green apple in the background. Versatile with food or tasty on its own, Bell’s Amber Ale is available year-round. It fires on all cylinders for style and is well balanced. Very malty, but the 5.8% ABV means it’s still approachable and really refreshing.
Sierra Nevada Brewery. makes a variety pack featuring their Flipside Red IPA, a smooth, drinkable beer. Earthiness is the underlying element when it comes to aroma and initial flavor, but fruity and spicy hops also come into play. Understated tropical and citrus notes intertwine throughout, bringing out the sweetness. It also has a perfect balance between hops and malt. The finish is bittersweet in both senses of the word while the flavor and velvety mouthfeel make it a pleasure to drink.