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Switchback Citra-Pils

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I won't lie. Lagers have never really been my thing. Maybe it's because I drank entirely too much fizzy yellow stuff in my misbegotten youth and mass-produced adjunct lagers just ruined the flavor profile for me. However, we're capricious and whimsical here at Kaedrin, and as a result, I've had a couple of great experiences with lagers in the past month or so. Experience the first: At a local beeratorium, I tasked some friends with purchasing me a beer and not telling me anything about it. I made a pitstop, and when I came back, they gave me a glass filled with pale liquid. I sniffed it and immediately pegged it as a lager... but it turned out to be Captain's Kolsch (not technically a lager, but it certainly shares a flavor profile) and I genuinely enjoyed it (may review it sometime, but don't hold your breath). Experience the second was a glorious pint of Pivovar Kout Koutská 12° Dvanáctka from Operation Chowder. I mean, I'm not completely abandoning my typical rotation of Saison/IPA/Stout in favor of lagers and Kolsches, but it's nice to change things up every once in a while and get out of your comfort zone.

To that end, when in Vermont for Operation Cheddar III: Cheddar Harder, I took a flier on this Pilsener (or is it a Keller Bier? The label sez both!? Gah!) from Vermont stalwarts Switchback brewing. It starts off as a pretty typical Pilsener; lots of pale malt and Saaz hops. The curve ball here is that after the traditional 6 week lagering period (i.e. cold conditioning after fermentation), Switchback dry hopped with Citra and more Saaz. The result is a nice little compromise between an IPA and Pilsener, well worth checking out if you get the chance, even if it won't make you fall down and see God.

Switchback Citra-Pils

Switchback Citra-Pils - Pours a gorgeous, clear, almost radiant yellow gold color with a finger of fluffy white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells of clean, grassy, hay-like hops with plenty of citrus making itself known. As it warms, more of the typical Saaz herbal and spicy hop notes come through too. Taste starts off very clean, with just a hint of hops that intensifies through the finish, where you get some more traditional lager-like character and some hop bitterness. Taste is more Saaz than Citra, lots of spicy and herbal notes, but there's enough Citra to make it feel like I'm not drinking anything close to a typical adjunct lager. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied up front and thinning out in the backend, certainly quaffable stuff. Overall, I really enjouyed this beer and am glad I made the stretch. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a teku glass on 6/19/15. No date on bottle, but it was first sold in May 2015, so this was reasonably fresh.

I enjoyed this more than their normal flagship Switchback Ale, and would love to check out more from these folks. Perhaps we'll snag something during the imminent Operation Cheddar IV: Smoked Cheddar.

Switchback Ale

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Another random impulse buy from the Warren Store during Operation Cheddar. I'd never heard of this before, but when I brought it up to the counter with my bottles of Double Sunshine, I received a knowing nod from another patron who commented on my purchase of "the usual suspects". I asked about this one, but I had trouble getting a read on what he thought on this. After having the beer, I have to admit that I kinda get that. The label sez that "Switchback Ale was developed as a flavor concept, not adhering to any style guidelines", and it sorta drinks like that. Sorta. I found it strongly reminiscent of a pumpkin beer... but without pumpkins or pie spice. Whatever that means.

It's one of those beers that makes me wonder why I even bother posting a rating. As noted in the comments recently, my ratings tend to be relatively high, especially lately. This is partly because, well, who wants to write about mediocre beer? Also, as Rich speculated, there are enough resources out there and I obsessively read enough blogs/twitter feeds to have some intuitive sense of what's going on. This beer kinda threw me for a loop though. I liked it well enough, and it is clearly a very well crafted and interesting beer. I couldn't see it being something I reached for often (if it was regularly available to me)... but writing this post a week later, well, I could see myself cracking one of these every once in a while. I rated it relatively "low" on my scale though. Of course, a B is nothing to sneeze at, and that's not objectively low at all. So take that.

Switchback Ale

Switchback Ale - Pours a dark amber orange color with a finger of white head. Smells of bready malts, maybe buscuit malt, with some earthy hop notes for good measure. That breadiness may be coming from the yeast too... Taste is also very malt forward, mildly sweet breadiness and biscuit flavors (again, perhaps accentuated by the yeast), just a bit in the way of earthy, herbal hops. Mouthfeel is light bodied, well carbonated, crisp, and relatively dry. Goes down very easy. BA calls this a Pale Ale, but this sorta feels like the base for a pumpkin ale (i.e. no pumpkin or pie spice or anything, but with the malt/hop/yeast bill along those lines). Overall, well crafted and balanced but very subtle. It's making a very nice accompaniment to dinner and it's something I could see trying again, but it's not among those face melting VT beers worth making the trip for (though it's probably worth trying if you're already there, and why wouldn't you be)... It actually seems like it could be a really great alternative to those who want to celebrate the fall weather, but don't like the heavy handed use of pumpkin and spice in so many beers. B

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a willybecher glass on 8/30/13.

Apparently Switchback only started bottling last year (after a decade of keg only brewing), and they seem to be doing well. I'd be curious to try some of their other stuff some day...

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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