Tommyknocker Ornery Amber

There’s a phrase that I’ve picked up living in Colorado: “It’s all downhill from here.” It’s generally taken as a positive thing, saying things can only get easier, or we are more than halfway through something challenging. But, on occasion, it’s a little more negative, meaning things can only get worse, since you’ve reached the highest, most exciting point. In fact, Grand Lake has a similar saying as their slogan, but I think they mean it in the more positive light.

This particular saying comes to mind when I drink certain beer. It can be a positive thing, like I still have half of the beer to go and the flavor is best at the end. Sometimes it’s negative, like I have a whole half of the beer to go and the beer has been terrible.

Now, the Tommyknocker Ornery Amber can have “it’s all downhill from here” applied to every sip, and unfortunately, it’s not a positive thing.

Initially, the Ornery has depth and intrigue. It has a rich aroma, smelling of hazelnuts and caramelized sugar, with a strong hint of licorice and dried fruit. The smell lingers in your nose longer than you may expect, and the Ornery is much more fragrant than your average amber.

The initial crisp taste is equally as interesting, tasting sweet and fruity, like a pie or cobbler, or raisin bread. The flavor really fills your mouth with hints of sunflower seeds, and leaves your mouth dry. It’s almost sour, but in a way to add a certain complexity to the beer. There is hardly any bitterness to speak of, making it a good, middle-ground ale.

But as soon as the amber leaves your mouth, something tragic happens. In most beer that I’ve tried, the finish was the winning quality, since it generally lasts longer and is more complex than when the liquid is in your mouth. The Ornery doesn’t go anywhere. A finish exists, but it is bland and boring, tasting like those Lipton powdered drinks with the grainy, flat aftertastes. I want to keep drinking the beer to keep that complexity and flavor, but dread swallowing the amber since it’s a disappointment every time.

If this amber was offered to me, I wouldn’t turn it down, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to search for it. There are interesting flavors the mix well together, but I would want some snack food or meal when I had the beer to make up for the poor ending. It’s not a bad beer, but as soon as it passes my lips, I can only think one thing: it’s all downhill from here.

I’ve heard good things about Tommyknocker’s other beer (and I’ve had their pale ale, with a review coming next), so I’m looking forward to trying some other, better brews.

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