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Beer Reviews

Beer Connoisseur Reviews Abita Amber

Judge’s Review: 93 Rating – Abita Amber Lager by Abita Brewing Co.

Abita Amber Lager by Abita Brewing Co. was judged against the 2015 BJCP guidelines for category 2B International Amber Lager.  

Amber lagers owe their provenance to the Vienna style first brewed by Anton Dreher in 1840s Austria. They combined the crispness of the emerging lager family with a deeper amber color characteristic of English ales, and carried a noted toasty-nutty profile from the use of kilned malts, which were processed like pilsner malt but then finished in the oven for a slightly amber-brown color. Over the years the style has ebbed and flowed, and other variants like Märzen (richer and maltier) and International and Mexican (lighter, crisper) have become established. The International style is noted for relative reserved flavors and modest body, but good balance between malt structure and sweetness and a dry, lightly-hopped finish. In some cases the flavors have toasty notes; in others some obvious caramel character is present. In others, the beers lack any amber malt-derived flavors at all, and get their color from processed malt coloring agents. The best are smooth, very well balanced and have a lovely light melanoidin-led toasty richness that is fleeting in the late palate. 

The beer is presented at 43oF and served in a tall and narrow German stange — perfect for evaluating relatively soft-charactered lagers. The appearance is a light amber color (~7 SRM) with bright but not brilliant clarity and a lovely off-white and moussy cap of foam that exhibits excellent stand. 

The aroma is very light and soft, with hints of caramel and a lovely light dry-herbal hop note. Overall the nose is soft, dry and beery with just a hint of honey-caramel sweetness. The flavor profile starts crisp and malty with a reserved low bitterness estimated at 15-17 units; the mid-palate flavors present a distinct low-color caramel malt angle and a nice spicy-herbal hop note characteristic of continental varieties like Spalter and Hallertau Tradition. The balancing act between the malt character, the reserved bitterness and the light but apparent hop flavor are very nicely played against each other. The finish is dry with a light lingering toastiness. Carbonation is high, body is medium-low and there is no astringency evident.

Overall the beer is refreshing and crisp, with notes of malt richness leaning to low lovibond caramel malt, with a reserved and delicate German hop character in a tight and dry package. It is extremely drinkable and would work both to slake a hot day’s thirst as well as complement a rich meal on a cool evening.  I am not sure why, because it’s not a common meal for me, but the idea of pairing this beer with a rich and fatty Bavarian Pork Knuckle has popped into my brain, and is very appealing. Not because the beer is overtly Germanic, but its light richness seems the perfect counterpoint to lifting the heaviness of the meat-fat-breading off the palate. Apparently, I am hungry (for German food, no less!).  In any event, this beer is an excellent example of the style, and deserves credit for its balance and elegant light flavors.  

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