Amber Ale is a style that used to be made by every brewery, then it fell out of popularity and now it is BACK baby, but with craft beer taking the flavor to extremes.
Check out this video to see if I was able to put them in order by ABV and which ones fit the BJCP style guidelines for Amber Ale. Below the video are my tips for identifying this style blind and a list of commercial examples from around the world for those studying for a Cicerone exam.
BJCP Parameters for American Amber Ale
ABV 4.5-6.2% (I mess it up in the video so now I’ll never forget it, ha!)
What I look for when blind tasting Amber Ale
When I’m looking for a classic amber ale, I’m searching for that crystal 40 malt flavor (slightly sweet, not too toasty) balancing hop flavor and aroma from American (piney, grapefruit rind, forest floor) or New World (tropical fruit, passion fruit, orange candy) hops, with just enough bitterness for balance.
The trick is that you can tell the light crystal malt is there, but it isn’t the center point of the flavor. Also the aftertaste shouldn’t be tooo bitter or else you’re getting into Red IPA or pale ale territory.
Amber Ale Commercial Examples from America
There are many amber ales made here in the States but not all of them fit the classic style outlines by the BJCP, especially those that are too high alcohol or too hoppy. My three that are easy to find and fit the guidelines are
ABV: 6% ICU: 55
Hops: Cascade, Nugget, Willamette,: Crystal, Nugget
Malts: Crystal, Munich, Pilsner
ABV: 5.4% IBU: 42
ABV: 5.8% IBU: 16
Hops: Columbus, Bravo, Northern Brewer, Mt. Hood
Malts: Pale Two-Row, Crystal (40L & 80L)
International Commercial Examples of American Amber Ale
When a style literally has “American” in the name, it have be hard to track down solid examples of it internationally. So I turn to the awards presented by the World Beer Cup that’s where I found these American Amber Ales from Japan and Ireland, brewed to style!
Amber-Ella, Eight Degrees Brewing, Ireland
Swan Lake Beer Amber Swan, Hyokoyashikinomori Brewery, Japan