Serious Beer: Washington Amber Ales

Beer Reviews

Seeking out the best in malty, hoppy refreshment.


[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]



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This is the last stop on our amber ale road trip up the West Coast. These amber (and sometimes red) ales are one of the styles the Pacific Northwest is known for, and it's now pretty easy to see why. These amber ales manage to strike a balance between bready, biscuity malt and fragrant, fruity hops.

Like in Oregon, many great Washington beers don't make it far from their breweries, but we were able to try nine different amber ales from the Evergreen State. Are some of your favorites absent? Please recommend them in the comments section!

Serious Beer Ratings

5/5 Mindblowing; a new favorite 4/5 Awesome, stock up on this 3/5 Around average for the style 2/5 There are probably better options 1/5 No, thanks, I'll have water.

Lazy Boy Brewing Co. Amber Everett, 5.2% ABV We loved the way this beer's medium-bodied mix of bready and toffee malts balanced perfectly against its apricot hop flavor. There's a persistent underlying sweetness throughout the leads to a nutty finish. We could drink this all afternoon. 4.25/5

Two Beers Brewing Co. Immersion Amber Seattle, 5.4% ABV Immersion pours a reddish amber with an ecru head. The aroma is sweet malt and mild citrus hops. Caramel malt and burnt sugar play off a mix of floral, citrus, and spicy hops and a bit of tobacco. Very smooth mouthfeel with a clean finish. 4/5

Elysian Brewing Co. Men's Room Red Seattle, 5.6% ABV Men's Room Red begins with the aroma of fresh milled grain. In the glass, the brilliantly clear amber-colored beer's thick white head leaves a fair amount of lacing. While the aroma was more about the malt, the focus shifts in the flavor as spicy hops ride on top of caramel and toasty malt. 4/5

Silver City Brewery Ridgetop Red Silverdale, 6.0% ABV Ridgetop Red had the most complex malt profile of any of the Washington ambers we tried, showcasing strong flavors of layered caramel with accents of cocoa. It was also the fullest bodied beer we tried and quite smooth. The hop character is a bit restrained and shows up slightly spicy in the finish. 3.75/5

Ice Harbor Brewing Co. Runaway Red Ale Kennewick, 5.7% ABV The hazy brownish amber beer's aroma is tangerine hopes and bready caramel malt. The flavor opens with a snap of bright citrus and spicy hops. Toffee, burnt caramel, and bready malts provide the beer's backbone. The finish is dry. 3.5/5

Snoqualmie Falls Brewing PGA Amber Snoqualmie, 4.0% ABV This copper-colored beer begins with a bit of toast and caramel in the aroma along with a hint of orange cream. Sweet tinged caramel malt and candied orange flavors follow in the first sip. Relatively light bodied with a dry finish. 3.5/5

Fish Brewing Co. Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale Olympia, 5.5% ABV We picked up some moderate fruity esters in the aroma, accenting the caramel malt character. Spicy and slightly floral Hallertauer and Santiam hops provide contrast against the beer's soft and sweet caramel and toasted bread malts. The malt lingers on the tongue after swallowing. 3.25/5

Yakima Craft Brewing Co. 1982 Yakima, 5.5% The aroma begins begins with a blend of caramel and a bit of butterscotch. Floral hops provide a bitter punch and balance out the soft caramel malt character. It's fairly light bodied and finishes clean and dry. 3.25/5

Redhook Brewery Copperhook Woodinville, 5.8% ABV Pours a crystal clear golden honey with a thin white head. There's some nutty malt sweetness in the aroma. The same malt sweetness carries over in the flavor along with bitterness to balance, but there's no real hop character. We found Copperhook to be easy drinking, thirst-quenching even, but thought it lacked some depth and definition. 2.5/5

All beers were provided as samples for review.

About the Author: Jonathan Moxey is a Harlem-based homebrewer, BJCP beer judge, and Cicerone Certified Beer Server. He hosts private beer tastings for Tapped Craft Beer Events.