Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tommyknocker Ornery Amber Lager review

It's getting close to the end of the Trail Mix Sampler 12-pack from Tommyknocker Brewery. Tonight I opened the cap on the 5th beer in the series. All of the lighter colored beers have been sampled, so the remaining two are the darker ones of the bunch. This is a review of Tommyknocker Ornery Amber Lager - a 5.3% ABV amber lager that was bottom fermented at cooler mountain temperatures. This beer was later renamed to Tommyknocker Vienna Amber Lager.

Of all of the recent beers I've poured, this one looked amazingly good in the glass. It filled the glass with a nice burnt orange brown color with a slight haze. On top there was a near white head that stays and stays. The Samuel Adams glass really brought out a generous amount of carbonation from the bottom. After 10 minutes, the original head was still there.

This brew initially had the smell of a European Pilsner only with more body, a classic lager aroma. It had a touch of caramel malt fragrance as well. It smelled very inviting. Be careful though, if you tried to smell the aroma too many times it seemed to become much more difficult after a minute or two.

The first sip was of sweet caramel malt. Very low bitterness in this brew. I have to remind myself that I'm not tasting an Ale, but rather a lager. There was a noticeable difference in taste from an ale. It's nothing like a Bell's Amber or a Breckenridge Avalanche Ale. The sweetness stays with you throughout the entire time. The darker malts came out fully and covered the tongue. I was hoping for more of a bitter finish but it was not to come in this beer. You could tell that there were hops present but with some difficulty. Later on in the sampling, I could detect some bubble gum aroma in the glass from the yeast. A slight reminder of some Belgian strains.

If you lined this beer up with an amber ale you might be inclined to pick the ale over the lager. The Ornery Amber starts out with a lot of promise and then settles down to an average experience. While I enjoyed drinking the entire 12oz bottle I might pass on having a second. The beer was well made but seemed less exciting than other beer styles. Ratebeer and BeerAdvocate seemed rather neutral on this beer, but it's best for you to judge for yourself.

My thoughts here were to give this beer a 3.0 out of 5 ranking and with a sideways thumb. Drink this one slightly cold and on a cool Spring or Fall day. This beer looked good in the glass but didn't make a bold impression after.

Update 2011: Ornery Amber has been renamed to Vienna Amber Lager and has all new packaging.

Next up: Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale - last of the pack.

Related articles:
- Tommyknocker Jack Whacker Wheat Ale review.
- Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale review.
- Tommyknocker Butt Head Doppelbock review.
- Tommyknocker Alpine Glacier Lager review.

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