Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale - Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

Not Rated.
Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome AleSamuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,113 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,113
Hads: 2,051
Avg: 3.65
pDev: 16.71%
Wants: 37
Gots: 158 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-29-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (31) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,113 | Hads: 2,051
Photo of francisweizen
3.38/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batman...I've been skunktified. This bottle of sam Smiths Winter Welcome must have been light-struck or just plain skunky. It was the 2002/2003 edition and it opened with a loud sound and a rush of carbonation. The appearance was average enough and what one would expect from a buttery English style ale but the smell was pure skunk. The taste was skunky as well but what I could taste through the skunk was pretty good. malty, with a touch of hops, and buttery with some nice alcohol notes. Still for a winter brew this is two week and two suceptible to light damage and skunkiness to be worthwhile. Maybe a fresh-er example would be a lot better, but probably not. The mouthfeel on this was OK if not a little thin and the drinkability was good as well...
Still this is my least favorite brew out of the Sam Smiths that I have had...it was also the first one of their brews that I have ever drank..that was skunky. They should really ditch the clear bottles or at least put warnings on the cases so that packies can keep these things away from the light!!!

 1,073 characters

Photo of pezoids
5/5  rDev +37%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The sample I tasted was the 2002-2003 version.

I must give this beer a perfect score. The reasons are: 1. I have had this beer many times before in the past and have never been dissapointed. 2. in my opinion, this is the perfect example an English ale that I would like to drink (and brew!). In other words it just doesn't get any better than this.

The beer poured out with perfect clarity, a bright copper color.
A pleasant citrus aroma rises from the tall dense white head.
The head slowly laced the glass as the beer was consumed.
This beer has a good malt body to match the perfect hop

Very clean aftertaste with an excellent drinkability. I wouldn't change a thing with this beer. There's no wonder that I wait for this one to come out every year. A superb beer and worth waiting for every year.

 826 characters

Photo of marburg
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours with a fair amount of head that lasts quite a while, and the beer itself is an orange-ish red color, kind of light rust. Translucent for sure and pretty clear. Malty, caramel, butter nose. Malty taste with a pretty dry finish after a tiny hop kick that makes it a well-balanced brew. A nice beer when you're not in the mood for tea and just need something to drink.

 371 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2001 bottle, reviewed in December '02. Now why is it I never saw the '02 anywhere? So, the question is :how does it hold up after a year?
Thin white head, dark reddish appearance. Vinous nose, raisin, reminds me of a barleywine, but just a smidge. Spicy, aromatic, with notes of vanilla, sweet and malty. Smooth, and quite downable, with just enough flavor.
This used to be a wintertime staple for me, but I've fallen for the darker, bolder type of winter ales.
Quite good after 12 months, nothing wrong with it at all, though it tastes maltier than bottles I had last winter.

 580 characters

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.1/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Clear 12oz. bottle. Very busy purple label. $2.79 as a single as Carytown W&B.

Appearance: For some reason, I expected a "Winter Warmer"-type beer to have more...pizazz coming out of the bottle. I was rather disappointed by the clear golden color. Briskly bubbling head is quickly tamed and sits idly atop beer.

Smell: Not a very "busy" beer. Just a little bit of earth and spice.

Taste: I'm surprised this is considered a barley wine / strong ale. The flavor is on the thin side. There is a mixture of the earthy-flavored hops, the spice, and some sweetness in the background. Virtually no warming from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Again, rather thin. There is a bitter component that also sprouts up in the aftertaste.

Drinkability: Very dry finish with some bitterness thrown in as well.

 815 characters

Photo of brakspear
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2002-2003 Queen's Golden Jubilee

This strong ale is not generally what I think of when I am looking for a "winter warmer" beer. It definitely is British in style, but very mellow and mild, even with a 6% apv.

The beer pours a clear copper color with a moderate tight head forming and lingering, moderate lacing as well.

The aroma is an undistinguished malt base with perhaps slight English hop notes.

The taste is again mellow, smooth, and malty with an English biscuit flavor most prominant, though not very impressive, with a slight finishing hop bitterness.

All in all Samuel Smith's brews better beers than its Winter Welcome.

 646 characters

Photo of rabidawg
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Golden amber with a nice fluffy head that turned a little rocky before petering away, leaving a nice lace on the glass.

Smell: Not a very aromatic beer, as far as winters go. Slightly fruity, with minimal spice characteristics.

Taste: As with the smell, the lack of spices is apparent. To me, this an advantage. Carbonation bursts on your tongue at first, and slowly fades into a slight foam in the mouth. The alcohol is apparent, particularly in the finish. Slight maltiness, without much of a hoppy presence.

Mouthfeel: Nice and round, with a very pleasant fullness.

Drinkability: Very smooth, and the lack of heavy spice flavor definitely makes this a very drinkable winter ale.

Overall, a decent winter, but not on par with Sam Smith's other beers.

 779 characters

Photo of RonfromJersey
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shiny copper body, with little carbonation, topped by a frothy whie head. Very herbal nose, with some caramel sweetness. Nice biscuity start, then a touch of earthy hops arrive, in a supporting role, before a caramel-sweet finish. Long a winter favorite of mine, I shall continue to look forward to its annual appearance.

 321 characters

Photo of Bunnyhop
3.87/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A clear reddish golden beer with a large rocky tan head. The smell is sweet and malty with a nice hint of spice. It is nice and smooth in my mouth. The smoothness has a slight sweet creamy taste to it mixed with its maltiness, there is a taste of spice but not overwhelming, and it finishes with a mild cedarness. Overall, a very nice winter ale, the flavors blend very well with nothing too overwhelming.

(source: Broudy's; Jacksonville Beach, FL)

 452 characters

Photo of BitteBier
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nearly clear copper with a couple finger's worth of tan foam that quicky breaks down to a bubbly lace. Malty grains are the most noticeable component of the smell, which is both spicy and sweet though not overly so. Sweet, malty taste rules the day in terms of the taste. An astringent finish that accompanies a somewhat bitter coating on the lips and mouth (not such a bad thing!). Quite drinkable for a strong ale, with nothing strikingly great or terrible about this beer.

 483 characters

Photo of chilidog
4.13/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Winter Wonder, another fine sam smith brew. This one poured a clear amber with a nice medium off-white head that maintained itself & laced very well. The aroma is light, but fruity laced with winter spice. The taste is well blended spice, fruit notes,malt and faint hops. Mouthfeel is left slightly tart or bittersweet with a dry finish.This makes a great "holiday" beer. It does't overpower any meal and to add holiday dress to the table, the foil wrapped good looking bottle looks good next to holiday or special glassware.

 525 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 1 Pint 2.7 fl.oz, clear glass Bottle. Has probably the most colourful beer label in the entire world. Labelled as 2002-2003 aside the White Rose, which also has in the centre a Pint of Sam’s topped with a picture of the Coronation (St. Edward’s) Crown with the words “The Queens Golden Jubilee 1952-2002”. Wow – A truly regal beer.
Pours with the usual “glugginess” as the beer struggles against the ‘vena-contracta’ from the wide bodied bottle, through the long thin proboscis-like neck. Head is a slightly off-white mass comprised of a smooth collection of fine sized bubbles. The head is restrained and remains at 1” for some time, slowly rescinds to ½”, but I kept some beer back in the 550ml bottle (a tip from a brewery worker from Sam’s I may add), so the continuous act of topping up helped head retention. The Ale is a dark copper-amber color, extremely clear and fresh looking. In a handled 20 fl.oz Glass, it looks excellent and most quaffable.
Nose is of fresh fruit, apples & pears with some lemon-grapefruit traits. Some biscuit malt and freshly baked, broken bread mixed with the smell of half empty Cereal boxes come through in the aromas as well, which offset the earlier smells. Nice nose.
First Mouthful: is a malty, sweet beginning – middle is of hops, some spices with a dry finish. Second mouthful; the middle tastes stronger and there is a deeper fruitiness about the beer, finish is still dry, but slightly more acidic this time. To say that this beer is filtered and not bottle-conditioned – it is surprisingly complex and does alter as you drink it. Inherent carbonation is good and adds to the overall spritzy mouthfeel, it can sometimes feel like the Carbon Dioxide is playing “Bouncy Castle” on your tongue though at times.
The finish is bitter, long and astringent. Almost lambic like, I guess I like this, but I see that this could be a draw-back for others and some thought must be given to marks here – after all its is supposed to be a Winter Warmer, and not a Gueuze!!!
The really dry finish aside, this is still is a highly accomplished, high quality beer that will not disappoint, but it may very well "surprise" a few people. I have to say though that this is not one of my favorite Sam's beers.
Welcome to the wonderful weird world of “Sam’s”.

 2,311 characters

Photo of Jarod
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured in from a clear bottle an amber gold color. I liked the label. The head was the color of white and thin, not lasting at all. No lace present. The aroma was light and soft. It had hints of rose pedals, light malt and hops and it smelled like a white zinfandel wine. The taste was simple like a white zinfandel wine. To put it in a more complex way- sweet malt, flowers, fruit, light hops and dry at the finish. To be honest I had trouble with this beer, no distinct flavors came at me so I asked the wife to nose the beer and taste it, so if the review doesn’t quite sound like Jarod, that is because Jarod had some help on this one. It is a decent beer, probably would only get again if the choices were limited.

On a side note, wife liked it and even though she is not a beer drinker, she liked it.


550ml clear glass bottle.
1995 - 1996 edition.
Gold foil cap
Shakespeare phrase

This beer poured an almond color that when held to the light had orange tones on the edges, and the clarity had a chill haze to it. For the age of this beer it still had decent carbonation. The head that was produced was beige/butter cream colored, fairly dense and creamy that lasted to about ½ glass then slowly fell to a thin foam on top and a ring on the edges of the glass. It produced a sheet like lace on the glass when it was at full density, then spotty as the foam decreased. The aromas were pronounced and easily detectable, sweet malts, spices (clove, nutmeg), wood, sweet ripe fruits (cherry, apple, pear), some nut and alcohol soaked fruits (blended alcohol with fruit). The flavors were well blended and mellow, but detectable (each and every one), tastes of malts, spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg), wood, earth tones (mild), light alcohol, fruit (both ripened and alcohol soaked), and some roasted nuts. The aftertaste was of spices and wood. Pleasant. Medium bodied. Wow I was worried that this would have gone south d/t to it not being bottle conditioned, clear glass, not a high ABV, poor storage conditions, etc., but it was really good. Big aromas, smooth blended flavors, overall appearance made this a very pleasant beer to drink. I was thinking of ageing it more, but through the advice of Venom to try it before it would be too late, I did, and enjoyed it immensely. Thanks for not letting me miss this one.

Side note: d/t the age of this beer I noticed that when empty, the clear glass was not clear anymore, it was stained almond colored.

 2,518 characters

Photo of Dantes
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Package: 1 pint, 2.7oz. (550ml) clear bottle, with nice bas-relief. 6.0% ABV, 2002-2003 edition with no other dates.

Cost: $2.49 per bottle.

Presentation: Poured into pint glass at ~45º.

Appearance: Achieved a medium off-white head, which dissolved quickly into a thin but solid lid of foam. Color is a bit paler than I recall and definitely lighter than the benchmarks from Young’s and Fuller’s. More yellow than amber or mahogany. Bead is moderate to large.

Smell: A warning whiff of grapefruit, telling me that this will have an edge I often find a bit unpleasant. Malt and hops come through, but overall, this is a relatively austere bouquet for a winter warmer. I miss the doughy cereal aromas and toasted barley I look for in this style.

Taste: Yep. The grapefruit taste is there first. Followed by some herbal notes and then the hops. Not enough malty fullness to achieve a good balance. Finish is very dry and astringent. Would benefit from some more caramel and toasted barley. Tastes like the grain bill was a bit light.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is surprisingly coarse. Perhaps the carbonation is what disrupts the fullness of the beer. A bit too prickly on the palate. It prevents the warming aspect of what is meant to be a winter warmer. Body is too thin.

Drinkability: Although not unpleasant, I can think of many options I would turn to before having this again this year. In the past, I don’t remember this being so austere. However, I will try it again next year.

I regret having to review this right after Todd; but I did just have this yesterday, and I didn’t see his until I went to paste this in. Perhaps this suffered in comparison to the Fuller’s 1845 I had the day before, but the fact remains that this was not as satisfying as that was, nor is it a match for the other traditional British winter ales.

Backwash: Although a representative of one of my favorite styles, I enjoy the Young’s Winter Warmer and Fuller’s Old Winter Ale much more.

 2,036 characters

Photo of Todd
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

550ml clear glass bottle. 2002-2003 edition.

This ale started off with a rich, bright amber colour ... topped with an impressive two-finger, pure white foam head; creamy consistency with plenty of retention and touch of stick.

Aroma is that of a typical English ale: toasty malts, herbal hops (a touch of coarseness) and that mineral foundation; a bit metallic. This brew's bouquet is quite soft and pleasant.

Malty flavour; toasted malts, touch of caramel. Sharp-ish hop character offsets the malts with a thin edge of citric bitterness, coarse feel, cheesy flavour in the background and a hoppy spice array of flavours helps to round things off while getting lifted into the mouthfeel by the beer's tight and lively carbonation. Notes of yeast throughout. Bone-dry finish with traces of hop flavour.

I've always had a soft spot for Samuel Smith's beers. They were probably one of my first introductions into English ales back in the mid-80's. The Winter Welcome is not only the quintessential winter warmer beer, but it's an old classic and favourite of mine. However, its dryness does get on my nerves after one, making this less drinkable in my opinion, less "wanting of another." A touch sweeter and OBT might have a grand winter session ale in their arsenal of beers.

 1,285 characters

Photo of Morris729
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with a thick and creamy off-white colored head that fades into a nice thick lace. Nose is sweet malts, caramel, honey, and spice. Taste is a malty sweetness with notes of dark fruits and caramel with a dry finish. A very nice brew, but Samuel Smith makes many beers that are superior to this one.

 322 characters

Photo of cokes
2.78/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bourbon colored with a buttercreme head. Retains well.
Muted nose of butterscotch, paper and grassy, pre-floral hops. Plus some of the standard "oh, this is another f**king clear bottle from S Smith" light-damaged aroma is already creeping in.
Taste is along similar lines. Butterscotch up front, leading the charge albeit passively. Butter seems to be the main player with loads of diacetyl notes. Mid section is curiously devoid of any signature flavors, simply watery with some residual butterscotch/diacetyl. Finishes grassily hopped with an exiting jab of spoiling milk.
Washed out body. Very thin for the style. Effervescent up front. After the intial carbonation escapes, this one just dies.
A waste of time.

 733 characters

Photo of maxpower
3.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber-copper color, big frothy, clingy off-white tan colored head, leaves thick sheets of lace in my glass. Light caremel malty and flowery aroma. Sweet caremel malty flavor, some hops come through in the finish, decent medium body, a bit watery mouthfeel, not the best Samuel Smith, but not bad.

 301 characters

Photo of mzwolinski
3.49/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Copper in color with a quickly dissipating, finger-thick head. Unfortunately, like most other Samuel Smith's beers, the dominant aroma is skunk, as the clear bottles cause the beer to become lightstruck. It takes a while to get over this rather unpleasant introduction, but after a while a buttery diacetyl aroma, and a tart, fruity scent begin to take hold. Flavor, too, starts off a bit skunky, and follows much the same progression, with buttery flavors leading off, followed by a caramel-like maltiness, and finally a pleasant floral hop flavor, toffee-like notes, and a slightly sweet, fruity aftertaste. Crisp and smooth, with a medium body. If only Sam Smith's would ditch the clear bottles, this would be a very fine beer.

 730 characters

Photo of Pegasus
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reddish amber in color with a decent off-white head with small, slow rising bubbles, lots of irregular broken lace. Sweet aroma of caramel and honey with bread notes and some fugitive holiday spices. Taste begins with a sweet, lingering caramel note and soft carbonation, turns a bit grassy towards the middle, finishes with some slightly bitter and lingering hops and buttery notes. Alcohol is quite warming and seems potent. Mouthfeel is good, although not quite as good as one might expect. Still, a holiday pleasure that makes one wish that winter lasted a bit longer.

 572 characters

Photo of putnam
4.92/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The Nose: (the beer's, not Gogol's)
What perfection. Deep, alluring, sophisticated and subtle, the aromas offer a hint of the trademark Tadcaster blueberry and cream, but with a well of roasted and polished sugars as anchor: Asian spices, date syrup, toasted sesame, new leather, fruit wood...wow. And concise! No clumsy hop intrusions, canned fruit, or mustiness to blur the statement.

The Palate:
Subtle as opposed to decadent. Creamy, milky texture allows the aforementioned traits to dance and glide across the lingual plateau. No beef. No glitzy hops (but enough to dry up the finsh.)

I want more. And I fault the beer for not being more concentrated.

A perfect drink.

 684 characters

Photo of mickstepp
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper color with a respectable head. It looks very much like a pale ale and tastes a lot like one too, though an underhopped one in my opinion.It's very refreshing and quaffable (maybe a little on the thin side) and seems much more suited to warmer weather. There is a hint of nutmeg spice in the nose and in the taste profile but oh so subtle. I'm not usually a big fan of the big and spicy winter/Christmas ales but when I have one I want it to be....well, big and spicy. A decent ale overall but a little off the mark for the category.

 552 characters

Photo of kunzbrew
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper color that has no head. This reminds me of a pale ale with holiday spices mixed in. The smells and taste of nutmeg and pale malt compliment each other very well here. Not to bad but would not call it a winter welcome ale.

 242 characters

Photo of IrishRedRock
3.36/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

At first sip I was not a fan of this malty brew, yet it is growing on me now. I think the rigatoni, meatballs, and hot italian sausage I had it with made things better for me.

It is a deep copper with a reddish hue, with a thin head that sticks nicely. The aroma is rather pungent, and not quite to my liking...very malty with some caramel in there. Smells like an English pub.

More malts kick in upon tasting it, in addition to some biscuit-like and earthy grassy hay flavors. I think the bitter aftertaste is what struck me down initially, but now we are cool. Mouthfeel is quite smooth and pleasant. At first it was nearly intolerable, but now I am enjoying slowly sipping this one. I think the fact that the food made it better is a possible indication that it pairs well with Italian food. Nothing like ol' Nana's cookin on Christmas!

 847 characters

Photo of doerickson
4.05/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Color of apple juice with a thick white head. Sweet smells of caramel maltiness and a taffy-like aroma as well. Light carbonation. This is a malty brew, with candy apple and brown sugar sweetness with a bit of earthy hops to bring some balance. Nice warming effect from the alcohol. I enjoyed this beer.

 303 characters

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
83 out of 100 based on 1,113 ratings.