Beers Of The Week: Switchback Ale and Porter


The great state of Vermont is mainly known by most people for its cheddar cheese and other dairy products, its maple syrup, the Green Mountains, Cabot Creamery or Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. But if you are a connoisseur of great beer, this may be one of your focus states for their awesome breweries. At last count, there were more than 30 breweries, brew-on-premises restaurants or brew pubs serving their thirsty fans pints, growlers, or flights (small tastings of different brews) and generating a lot of interest and profit. One such brewer is Switchback Brewing Company in Burlington.

Switchback was started back in 2002 by owner Bill Cherry with the idea of making an easy drinking pale ale for his friends around the Burlington area. Little did he know that his pale ale would be one of the most asked for beers in taverns and eateries around New England. 2008-2010 brought a major expansion to the facility with greater capacity to keep up with their demand, going to 24 hour operation. 2014 marked yet another growth period with an expanded bottling line and redesign of their taproom. Finally this year, Bill wanted to make sure Switchback was never bought out by macro brewers and large financial buying institutions, so he made his employees business partners and made Switchback the first 100% employee-owned brewery in Vermont. You can find out much more about them at
Looking at two of their most popular beers at the same time makes sense because they share a lot of commonalities but could not taste more different. They are both unfiltered when bottled so the labels suggest that the buyer slowly invert the beer a few times before opening to mix any settled contents.
Switchback Ale is actually specified as an American Amber style on but looking at this glistening beauty, with its white head, you would have to agree it is a golden ale. At 5% ABV, this easy drinking, well balanced but complex flavored beer is so refreshing, you can see why it is popular. With five malts and four different hop varieties and a secret yeast combination, this inviting beverage will certainly be among your favorites to keep within reach.
The story behind Dooley’s Belated Porter is that it was a recipe created by their head brewer years ago and promised to be put into colder month production year after year, but that never happened. Finally, Mr. Cherry decided he had waited long enough and produced it for the first time in 2009. It was a huge hit and has been available ever since. With a bold and full flavored porter such as this, Switchback builds upon their ale success and adds complexity to their tastes. A mocha head, roasted and caramel malts along with flaked barley and balanced Simcoe hop profile help to round out this lovely 5.7% ABV liquid, making it satisfying and delicious. marks both of these brews in the ‘Good’ category giving the ale an 81 and the porter an 84 out of 100. Both of these Switchback beers are available in 12 oz six packs and 22 oz bottles at Case-n-Keg in Meredith so check them out today!

Jim MacMillan is the owner of WonByOne Design of Meredith, NH, and is an avid imbiber of craft brews and a home brewer as well. Send him your recommendations and brew news to