All notes on beers in the style

Winter Warmer

Leffe Biere d’Hiver (Winter)

This is one of the prettiest beers that I've seen in a while. A truly deep red-brown pour, with a great head and some fantastic lace. Bone white layers are left behind in the glass. Unfortunately, the look is the high-water mark for it. The beer drinks very light, considering the style and the look. That's both a good and a bad thing. It makes the beer drinkable and easy, but TBH it really lacks the depth that it should have, and that either style (see below) demands. Plenty of caramel, plenty...

Rosey Nosey

Lighter than expected amber color with a head and lace combo which is sufficient to keep me happily engaged. Medium (appropriate) carbonation. The nose is where the special nature of this beer start to manifest themselves. Rich caramel, biscuit malts combine to reveal a classic, English malt and mid-hop character brew. Slight dry finish that one would expect completes the package with a touch of soapy bitterness in the aftertaste. Don't think of this as a Winter Warmer and you'll be happier....

Fireside Chat

$1.65 for the 12 oz can from Green's on Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA, USA. A reddish, thin looking body with some brown highlights at the extremities. The head is richer than the body and leaves some nice, dense lace. The beer has very little hint of being a Winter Warmer and frankly no winter spice element that I can detect. It drinks like a thin, acidic, slightly off brown ale that may be on the brink of developing a large infection. Some slight lacto elements, the beer is pretty poor under...

Jubilation Ale

22 oz bottle, $10.99 from Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. Pour is a murky brown body with average head and lace. Not that enamored with the color or the appearance and it has me a little unhappy. On to the nose and taste. It actually drinks in a much cleaner than the color and bod would suggest. The light fruit touch and the cleanliness are traits that I have (happily) begun to associate with Baird, and they are attributes that I enjoy. the nose has a lightly spiced alcohol note,...

Frosted Frog Christmas Ale

22 oz bottle from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. The pour is a very attractive garnet colored pour with a smallish head that eventually forms a light, mocha colored spotty film on the surface of the beer. No lace to speak of. The nose delivers a HUGE blast of cinnamon. Not subtle, not restrained and a little off-putting. The tastes follow suit with some large cardamon, cinnamon and ginger elements all present. Underneath it all there are some caramel malts, but the spices are extremely dominant...

Our Special Ale 2010 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

12 oz single from my annual sixer. Usual presentation The usual, dark walnut brown pour with plenty of quite rich looking head. Some good looking lace as usual and the beer looks its usual, rich color. All of the expected and normal herbal, lightly spiced notes with the emphasis on some more bitterness than in the past. Some really light licorice but a beer that seems to have less influence on the fruity side of things. A little bit of sweet and sour on the back end. Mouthfeel does not seem...

Christmas Ale 2009

Purchased form Sam the Beer Man in Binghamton, NY in summer of 2010. 750 mL bottle, $8.99, Corked & Caged. Murky brown pour with a fair amount of yeasty sediment but a nice presentation in the glass. Good head forms, with a thick, mocha color and some nice lace. Looks good. Pleasing nose with some gentle fruit and spice, but that doesn't really manifest itself quite as strongly in the tastes. Perhaps even the few months age on this has not treated it all that well, and it would have been...

Our Special Ale 2008 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

‎2008 vintage that is approx. 1 year old (I purchased my usual, 2009 sixer a couple of days ago). ‎The usual Anchor code, 8OU dot-matrixed on this baby. ‎ Nice, mocha colored head on top of the usual dark brown, garnet body. Head is maintained nicely ‎and the lace is nicely broken on the glass and firm on the surface. ‎ The nose is surprisingly muted for the OSA. Normally one gets plenty of herbal spices but after a ‎year this seems muted somewhat. ‎...

Scratch Beer 16 – 2008

12 oz single bottle. Winter Warmer??? I thought it was more like an American IPA. Dark, mahogany pour with good clarity in the body. Head is small and clears quickly to give a thin, off-white collar and some film on the surface of the beer. Nose gives away a little alcohol and some more solvent like character. Not much else. Tastes are bitter rather than spiced. Very American IPA like in terms of aggressive hops. This is tempered by some malt but the whole combo is not very good. It has a dry...

Jubelale

12 oz single from a recent trade. 2008 vintage. I've been waiting on this beer for sometime. Delighted to get the chance to drink it. The pour is just the way I like it; it has that noisy, richness with a dark, caramel color. The head is high, rich, dense and produces some lovely ice-cream like lace. The nose and tastes have light alcohol and some delicate touches of spice. After the caramel notes subside, there is a mild hop bitterness that comes across the tongue. Nothing too spectacular,...

Winter Ale

12 oz single from Green's on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. $1.85 for the single bottle. One of my favorite styles from a reliable brewery - has potential to be a good combo. Chestnut colored pour with a nice head that falls back to give some nice lace and a film and ring of froth that lingers. Nose gives away very little other than some simple malts and a touch of indistinguishable spice. Mouthfeel is good, with a decent amount of creaminess. The tastes are slightly on the bitter side of spice...

Special Holiday Ale

12 oz single from Tower on Piedmont. $2.99 for the pleasure. Well, the marriage of these three breweries certainly makes for an intriguing combination, but at the same time it makes me a little nervous. Jolly Pumpkin has been very hit and miss for me (I just don't want funk in EVERYTHING), Mikkeller aren't exactly know for their subtlety and Stone have pushed a few boundaries of their own. Dark garnet pour with a tan head and sticky lace. It looks rich - and that's good because it IS! (In fact...

Never Summer Ale

$1.69, 12oz single from Charleston Beer Exchange, Charleston, SC, USA. Nice looking copper colored body with light lace and some fine, tan head that falls back to give a ring of lace and some fine bubbles. Looks good. Light, buttered and toasty malts along with some whiffs of sherry get in the nose. Lovely, full flavored beer that reminds me of some of the best English bitters. There is a touch of winter spice that does lend itself to the WW category, but to be honest it seems to blend...

Pickled Santa

Relatively new entrant to the GA market, I picked this one up for $4.99 at Tower on Piedmont, Atlanta, GA, USA. 500 mL bottle, "F10 288" on the label. I'm not really sure what a "XMAS English Ale" is, but here we go. Pour has gold clarity with a large, fluffy white head with some very good retention and lace. Candied, bubble-gum type phenols and esters greet the nose. The tastes reflect much of the nose, and there isn't really a great deal of "spice" as such. Quite sweet but just about holds...

Full Sail Wassail

2008 version. 12oz bottle from Total Wine at Perimeter, Atlanta, GA, USA. Pour is a dark, garnet body with an ivory head and plenty of sticky lace. Good looking. Nose is very bland. Lacks anything other than a little malt. Disappointing. Tastes are essentially that of a slightly acidic, malt based English ale. Lacks any kind of Winter Warmer spice as far as I can tell. Don't get me wrong, this is a pretty tasty, simple, ESB type ale with an easy drinkability and a nice mellow mouthfeel....

Ebenezer Ale

This is a beer that I have been wanting to try for a number of years now, and although Bridgeport has been in GA for a number of years, this is the first year that this seasonal has made it here. 12oz bottle, Taco Mac, Marietta, GA, USA. Murky brown pour with a decent, high pitted head with good lace and retention. The color isn't inspiring but nevertheless it looks pretty good in the glass after an agressive pour. A malty brew, this reminds me much more of an English ESB and the moniker of...

First Snow Ale

16 oz pint at Taco Mac on the East West Connector, Austell, GA, USA. Having tried a few of the RJ Rockers line so far (and been impressed) I was happy to see this and keen to give it a whirl. Pour is somewhat ordinary looking in terms of color (a golden macro color), but above average in terms of head and lace. Nose is an interesting combination of faint cinnamon and a bunch of other spices. This carries through to the tastes where we get an solid but subtle arrangement of Winter Warmer tastes...

Winterhook Winter Ale

16 oz pint on tap at Taco Mac, Douglasville, GA, USA. Interesting one this. The first pint that I was given had a very nasty, plastic taste about it. I was pretty sure it was line cleaner which is ironic given what the line cleaner is supposed to do. The bar manager Ben was called, and he pulled a full pitcher off and the resulting pint was very tasty. Just a little effort is all that it generally takes. Chestnut brown pour with very nice clarity. The head is a little too small for me, and the...

Winter Warmer

What a delightful find. A cask beer! Unusual enough in this part of the world, but being in the style of a Winter Warmer makes this a exciting brew to stumble across. Two, 8oz half-pint pours at $1.80 each during Happy Hour. Great garnet color with a super head and lace. Looks great. Beautiful clarity, very smooth in the mouth. Nutty malts. Highly drinkable, a relatively subtle beer wiithout any kind of Winter Warmer spice that I could pick up, but still very tasty. Impressed.

St. Peter’s Winter Ale

=== Updated Review 03/09 === Bottle still in the circular rather than the oval style from Bullock's, Marietta, GA, USA. $1.19 for 500 mL on sale. Jubbly. Pour remains resplendent with the head, lace and color exceptional. Still full of malty goodness with mild spice and wave after wave of first class drinkability. As smooth as you like, what a GREAT beer. === Original Review 01/08 === Delighted to see this turn up in GA at Green's on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA - means it went ON to, and then OFF...

Young’s Winter Warmer

$3.99 from Arbor Place Beverage, Douglasville, GA, USA. 1 Pt 0.9 oz (US) - 500 mL bottle. Has the updated Young's logo. Not a Winter Warmer in the US sense of the style, this is a simple, but delicious malty and caramel based ESB/Bitter/Brown Ale cross. HUGE, frothy and creamy head atop a beautifully clear, dark brown body with plenty of impressive lace on the glass. Looks AMAZING! Tasty malts dominate. This is VERY English with the Maris Otter also coming through some. Moreish taste. This is...

Rudolph’s Revenge Winter Ale (6%)

500 mL bottle, different (updated?) label to the BA database. Very simple, subtle, malty classic English ESB style (not Winter Warmer IMO) bitter. Lots of biscuit malts (Digestive and caramel) with a smattering of hop character over the top. Mildly fruity in the nose and the taste, this beer shows class in depth and its drinkability is off the chart for me. Crystal clear, tawny brown pour with a ovely head and plenty of very sticky lace. Sweet nose, this beer drinks well below 6% and seesm to...

Ale Mary

$4.95, VERY substantial 500 mL bottle, Green's, Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA, USA. Pretty unusual beer. First off, it pours and smells like a pretty standard, English Pale Ale, bottle-conditioned offering that we get in the USA. One difference, there is a cloudy, honey colored appearance that is a little different. Lots of simple, sweet biscuit malts (as expected) in the nose and the taste, but then things change fairly rapidly. Creamy head. There IS a spice element, but not in the way one...

Dundee Festive Ale

Picked this up as a single 12 oz at Mac's Downtown, Atlanta, GA, USA. I've not seen this in Atlanta before (in any form) so I was pleased to be able to get hold of it. Nice looking clear amber pour with an impressive pillowy, ivory head, a spotty film on the surface and some good lacing. Nice looking. Some mild spice in the aroma, but much more pronounced in the taste. Dark holiday spice with some fruits, all supported by a solid malt backbone. Good bitterness in the finish. Smooth and sweet....

Harveys Christmas Ale

275 mL bottle, Green's, Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA. $3.95. Presumably 2006 vintage, but despite the bottle saying that "Best Before Date and Lot Number" are on the "bottle top", apparently they were not - not on the bottle itself or the cap (inside or out). A still pour, with a real nice dark brown amber color with plenty of serious red highlights. Minimal lacing and head consistent with the ABV. Very little hint of spice to place this in the WW category. Without question this appears to drink...

Snowbound Winter Ale

22 oz bomber, Green's, Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. Lovely dark brown and noisy pour with a massive nose emanating across the room. All the spices are there, nutmeg though cinnamon through all spice through orange zest. Delicious. Tastes are all the same, with a really good body. Figs, dark Christmas fruits the full package. Fantastic, reminiscent of Sam Adams Old Fezzy. I could drink gallons and gallons of this. Rock on Left Hand.

K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale

$4.25, 12 oz single, Taco Mac, Decatur, GA, USA. Also as part of a $6.99 mixed sixer from Mac's, Atlanta, GA, USA! Potentially one of the better/best of the Flying Dog range. Great dark brown/garnet color with a nice size head and plenty of lace. A pretty good looking beer. Bigger than I was expecting in the nose and the initial tastes. Plenty of malts and significant hop bitterness. Quite a package. Caramel malt notes and a nice finish. To me this drinks bigger than it's advertised ABV, but...

Hitachino Nest Celebration Ale

Well this is a very odd beast. Bought as a single stubbie from Green's, Ponce de Leon, Atlanta, GA, USA. Pours like an American strong ale - reminiscent of a Double Bastard. Hazed amber body with a dense, light coffee colored head and some decent lacing. Aroma and tastes are ethanal (apple) infected. Alcohol is evident but the apple funk is very off putting. No spice of any description and if you are expecting a WW of some description you'll be disappointed. Maybe a bad bottle, but I know for...

Our Special Ale 2006 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

On tap, East-West Connector Taco Mac. As usual, served too cold. The usual "coke like" pour with burgandy highlights at the edges. Very small head and some lacing, but the lacing seemed a little thin. Lack of substantial body also reflected in the mouthfeel. Obviously OSA like, with darker spices (cinnamon and all spice) very upfront. This years version seems to lack a bit of body for me, although I will definitely have to drink more to get the full effect. A bit more bitterness than I...

Christmas Ale

2006 version with a new look. 12 oz single, Liquor Barn, Lexington, KY, USA. Very disappointing Winter Warmer, but a nice Brown Ale! Pour is basically solid brown wih some head and a little lacing. Lacks the red highlights that sometimes accompany WW's. Malty sweetness in the aroma. Tastes seriously lack the spices I was expecting from the style. What we get instead is a nicely balanced Brown Ale with good tasty malts and a satisfyingly dry finish. Enjoyable as a beer - it'll disappoint you as...

Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale

Even better on draft than in the bottle. I like this because of the sweetness and the vanilla character. Many will not like this much, probably for one of several reasons not least of all being the fact it is an AB product. I'm over that, and I must say this drinks pretty easily. Less spice than your average Winter Warmer, almost like a sweet, vanilla brown ale. That is not going to be to eveyones taste, but it's right up my alley. Also see my review of the bottle.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Updated Review 12/07 === Thanks go out to nlmartin as part of Secret Santa 2007. Much lighter in color than some of the same style. Still seems slightly alcoholic for the style. Still tastes good, but a little odd. Originial Review 11/06 === Purchased as a single on a recent rip to Lexington, KY. 12 oz bottle. GREAT clarity with a copper color and a nicely formed, capped head. No lacing. Some decent legs. Aroma is the typical spice with sweet alcohol notes. Taste is a tad more alcoholic than...

Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale

12 oz bottle purchased as a single from Mac's, Atlanta, GA, USA. "Born on" Oct 13 2006. Blue and White main and neck labels, "Limited Edition, Seasonal Brew", featuring the Snowman character lifting a glass of the beer. Nice looking copper colored clarity, with an initial decent head, but this fades fast. No lacing, but some spotty head left behind. The aroma is an odd combination of indistinguishable spices and some cooked vegetables. Tastes are slight vanilla with a dryish hop finish. Fairly...

Sweetwater Festive Ale

2009 Vintage - on tap, Taco Mac, Douglasville, GA, USA. Again less spice than some of the first vintages and this year more licorice flavors. Still drinking well though. === 2006 Vintage - on tap. Taco Mac Linbergh City Center, $4.50. Still the same attractive pour and nice head and lacing - in fact perhaps even better than in the recent past. This year the vintage is drinking very nicely but VERY differently. MUCH less spice, and flows like a malty brown ale. Color is pretty much the same as...

Sweetwater Festive Ale

2008 Vintage === 2008 vintage from a 12oz bottle. Thought that it was time to re-review a fresh vintage so here we go with the 2008 version. The usual dark, dark brown almost black pour with the promise of a creamy experience in the head and lace. Large, creamy and coffee-milky bubbles form at the edge of the head. Some lace. Nose and tastes this year seems a little less spicy to me, but there is a VERY distinct harsher, solvent alcohol edge to this beer. Some acidic, orangey licorice notes....

Old Jubilation

Great tawny brown, deep colored pour with a big head, nice lacing and some decent retention. Aroma is alcoholic and acidic fruit. Tastes are dark fruits (figs, plums, raisins) but there is a strong brandy alcohol presence too. Definite huge malts up front, but this fades very rapidly in the finish to give some real bitterness. A very complete and quite complex beer indeed. Mouthfeel is full and staisfying. Quite alcoholic in the taste, but not in an overpowering way.

Brooklyn Winter Ale (2005)

A surprisingly brown beer, that lacked the ruby red highlights that the style often has. Some head, but poor retention and almost no lace. Obviously malt based with some spicy overtones, perhaps some ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, but whatever spices are present they serve to provide a little bitterness and dry warmth. Highly drinakble with a nice orange peel bitter citrus finish. Not hop based but just dark enough to suggest a hint of smoke and dark winter days. A very nice beer that is highly...

Saranac Winter Wassail

Part of the mixed 12 pack from Saranac. Nice looking pour, a red body that is very, very clear and is topped by a bone white head, but it doesn't last long and as a result there is not much lacing. Aroma is a diluted cinnamon. Taste is a little strange and seems artificial. Definite spice notes, but this coupled with some metallic notes as well. Finishes fast with a puckering, spiced dry feel. I've had much, much worse, but much, much better too, so it's very middle-of-the-pack. $9.99 for the...

Moonraker Ale

Deep, deep dark colors of varying hues, but dominating by an ultra attractive ruby highlight package toward the bottom of the glass. Some head and a little lacing, but not big. The beer is fruity, alcoholic, mild, port-like and has great depth. In fact the depth is the real strength of this beer. It gives the beer a beautiful mouthfeel and a huge drinkability. Amazingly tasty with sweet malt backbone and caramel and sugary flavors. A great beer, and not what one would expect from a Winter...

Bah Humbug

Updated review; 11/19/06 === This gets better everytime I drink it. Even more smoothness than I remember, more rounded, more port like and sherry aftertastes, it gives me a warm glow inside. Delicious. Much darker pour that I remember in years past, and checking the review from a year ago that seems to be the case. Much better in 2006 and I have adjusted the scores accordingly. Really dark mahogony greets me this time. Lovely sweet malts in the nose. Less bitter too. I have bumped up one or...

Summit Winter Ale

Dark chestnut hue with some red highlights too. Minimal head but nevertheless some decent lacing. A little bit of hop aroma but really very little. Taste is a dry hop with a little spice. For a winter warmer this is very subdued but still very drinkable. Some nice bitterness in the finish. Mouhtfeel is OK, but a very average performer in most categories. OK, but nothing spectacular to report.

Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale

Additional notes 11/06/21 After a hiatus Fezzy is back in what used to called the Winter Sampler Pack but now carries a new name. Label has changed, and this is the beer pictured here. The beer seems cleaner than it has been in the past which might be considered better by some, but for me it feels lighter, and lacking depth in terms of the body and the taste. Just meh compared to a decade ago for me. Updated Review 11/10 Got really lucky and managed to pick up four, single bottles at Macs in...

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale

=== Updated Review 11/07 === 2007 Vintage. Bought this at GSO Wine Warehouse on a recent trip to Greensboro, NC, USA. $4.49 for the 22 oz bottle, purchased on the day of release. I resisted the temptation to buy the larger, flip top growler type bottle since I remembered not being that impressed with this beer the first time around in 2005 (last year I didn't buy it at all). I was surprised to read my review form 2005 and see that it almost EXACTLY applies to this vintage. It's a decent beer,...

Harpoon Winter Warmer

Nice, if somewhat reserved Winter Warmer. Pour is standard, with a decent red/brown color, nice head and a little lacing. Mouthfeel and body are both pretty light, and I found the spices really rather reserved. Unlike some of this style, this is a beer you could comfortably drink year round. Not heavy at all. Smell is also laid back with not much in your face spice, rather just some in the background. Not sure if this is a great example of the style (the WW's are usually much more robust) but...

Mac Frost Winter Ale 2004

Ruby red to dark brown with a somewhat flat appearance. Not much in the way of carbonation, so obviously little or no head and not much lacing. Defiite aroma's of toast, but malt sweetness is there too. Not many hops until the finish and then they come through with a satisfying dry edge. Reminded me a little of a Barley Wine, with some warmth in terms of alcohol and the appearance was really very BW like.

Cottonwood Frostbite

Definite, dark coffee undertones make this beer a real winter warmer. Quite heavy in terms of hops and bitterness, most certainly not a light beer in any way shape or form. Really dense, black body and a lively tan head make it look like it tastes. Aromas are a little smoky. Good coating in the mouth, this is a full bodied beer. Lots of bitter coffee present and not much else. Whatever alcohol is in there is masked and the malt body is not present to any degree. Definitely best consumed on...

Our Special Ale 2004 (Anchor Christmas Ale)

Updated Review 01/08 === Bottled. Part of a recent 03-07 vertical. This was the sweetest of the vertical with the usual notes but oxidation being prevelant. Enjoyable at four years old. Original Review 12/04 === Taco Mac, Marietta, GA, $4.25. Very nice. Beautiful, deep, dark brown, almost black, with a lovely dark tan head. Very, very smooth drinking with just the right amount of carbonation. The bartender seemed to think there was a lot of gingerbread in the beer, but I didn't pick that up. I...

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale

2022-2023 (pictured) 11/26/2022 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II commemorative edition. So, so flavorful as always, but it f it's possible this seems so much richer and fuller than years gone by. Delicious biscuit flavors as usual, the kiss of hops and a clarity and mouthfeel to die for. Simplicity itself, one of my favorite, British bottled beers of all time. 2007-2008 Vintage (Additional notes 02/08) Thanks to Penney for this gift. 500 mL bottle. Biscuit malts still there behind the great...