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Father John's Winter Ale - Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Father John's Winter AleFather John's Winter Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

56 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 56
Reviews: 32
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 12.47%
Wants: 0
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company visit their website
British Columbia, Canada

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
A rich, malty seasonal ale brewed every fall for the winter months, this ale is made with four different malts, Nugget & Hallertau hops, and a complex blend of spices. It is named for John Mitchell, Howe Sound's original brewer.

17 IBU

(Beer added by: BDTyre on 11-17-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 56 | Reviews: 32 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lumikuuro
5/5  rDev +32.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1 litre bottle.

Appearance: Fairly opaque, brownish mahogany colour with fairly white head receding to a ring. Head was monstrous when previously enjoyed in a ceramic stein; this time minimal when poured into tall central European style half litre glass tankard.

Aroma: A wonderful blend of nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, distant cinnamon, rich sugars and malts. Alcoholic nose blending in with the spices like a true winter warmer.

Taste: One word: phenomenal. The nutmeg, vanilla, and the sugary blend of honey, treacle, and yellow sugar added to this beer work in perfect harmony with each other. The added ginger blends into the warming alcohol taste, while the added cinnamon is barely noticeable but surely helps round the spice flavours. There are also hints of black cherry and even orange in here, showing just how well this beer is brewed: there are port notes here as a result. The blend of the honey, treacle, and yellow sugar add a rich sweetness that reminds the drinker of Christmas, without overpowering any of the other flavours and nuances; everything is in perfect balance. In fact, this beer is also known as Father John's Christmas Ale at the Howe Sound brewpub.

Mouthfeel: Fairly full bodied, wonderfully silky as the beer seems to explore the mouth without any effort from the drinker.

Drinkability: A true winter warmer that entices the drinker to have more, but is so complex and rewarding that it also begs to be savoured. Easy to drink, but not as a result of thin body or light flavour; this beer is in a much higher class.

The best winter ale in British Columbia by a country mile. And there is plenty of countryside in this part of the world. Absolutely fantastic beer.

lumikuuro, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of bazzz
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%

bazzz, Sep 30, 2013
Photo of TheBarnes
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%

TheBarnes, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of Erik-P
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%

Erik-P, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of KeeganRohovich
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

KeeganRohovich, Mar 14, 2014
Photo of Coastal_Brew
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

Coastal_Brew, Jul 22, 2012
Photo of FinnHawk
4.25/5  rDev +12.7%

FinnHawk, Nov 18, 2013
Photo of leaddog
4.22/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Dark and hazy copper brown, bubbles present, with a fine white head. Slight lacing on the glass.

Smell - Winter spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice. Slight aromas of ginger, vanilla, and citrus (orange peel).

Taste - The winter spices are the predominant flavour, co-starring flavours of molasses, citrus, and hops. Nice balance of sweetness and bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Very bubbly with plenty of carbonation. Medium bodied ale that goes down smooth (despite all the bubbles). Spices leave a refreshing aftertaste.

Overall - A good example of a winter warmer by Howe Sound, incorporating all the spices of the season. I was pleasantly surprised by the high volume of bubbles, as other winter warmers I have sampled recently have dialed down the carbonation. A great warm-up ale after a day in the snow or on the slopes!

leaddog, Dec 05, 2011
Photo of Methodd
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Came in Howe Sound’s usual 1L pot-stopper. Poured into a 500mL mug.
Appearance: Dark and murky copper/amber color. Good amount of off-white head that slowly dissipates and leaves a collar. Some lacing.
Smell: Very thick malts with lots of spices (cinnamon and nutmeg). Reminds me of ginger-snap cookies.
Taste: Full bodied. Lots of different hops in this one. Bitter as it goes down the throat.
Mouthfeel: I think it’s a little bit over carbonated but the second 500mL pour seemed much better. Goes down fairly smooth but the spice leaves a very long lingering after-taste.
Drinkability: Very warming. I think one liter of this brew is a bit overkill. I’ve found that although Howe Sound’s ales all come with reseal able bottles you still pretty much have to drink it all fairly quickly. If you pour out half and leave the other half in the fridge by the next evening it’s pretty much flat.

Methodd, Nov 11, 2009
Photo of ChrisCage
4.18/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- This comes in a cool 1L "pot stopper" bottle, which is nice as I can re-seal this beer once I've had enough! It pours a rich red/orange/amber color with a nice thick, if not a bit too fizzy off white head. The carbonation otherwise looks relatively fine, and the lacing is not really there much, hence a slightly lower score than I'd like to give.

S- This has a very nice aroma that doesn't overpower my nose. It smells of sweet malts, and has a nice combo of wintery spices, including nutmeg on the forefront and some deeper aromas of ginger perhaps and a bit of clove as well. The hop bitterness is there as well but it isn't really strong.

T- First I have to say that the 7% alcohol is really well hidden in this brew. I really like the mixture of sweet and spicyness....I initially detect the malts that are used in the beer, and then I get a bit of a spicy flavor that actually tingles my palate a bit on the finish (the ginger?). The finish also has some mild bitterness that just catches my palate.

M- The body is on the thinner side, which is slightly disappointing. The carbonation, however is mild, providing for a smooth drinking beer. I really am reminded of all the goodness of winter foods and spices with this beer!

D- While this brew wouldn't be something that I'd drink over and over, I really do enjoy this and will have no problem finishing off this litre once this review is done! It has a nice balance and is a nice take on the style...actually one of the better ones that I've had! I recommend anyone to pick this up and enjoy!

ChrisCage, Jan 15, 2010
Photo of Derek
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's Christmas Eve and I'm in BC. Three years ago it was 16 degrees Celsius here, today we must've got 16 cm of snow! So this Father John's winter ale seems very appropriate (and it's a 1L bottle too!).

A Auburn chestnut, light tan head, thin ring of retention, very little leg/lace.

S: Bready, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark fruit, light spiciness, caramel, ginger, brown sugar. Very nice.

T: Bready, dark fruit, caramel, nut, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon & brown sugar. Balanced bitterness, alcohol is subtle. This is really good. I'd give it a 4.25 for flavour if I could.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body has a dry finish.

D: Very drinkable for it's strength.

Derek, Dec 24, 2008
Photo of joemcgrath27
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured cloudy deep orange-amber, one finger of beige white head that dissipated quickly

S - strong scent of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, fruity, like a christmasy potpourri. Also sweet molasses with rich malts.

T - sweet & toasty malts, then the nutmeg, cinnamon, and spice take over, reminding me of eggnog, with light fruity flavour as well

M - relatively light feel, nice carbonation, with the spiciness filling the mouth and lasting on the tounge

D - the product definitely lived up to the description on the bottle. It really reminded me of a christmas fruitcake, which I generally don't like, but in beer form it's pretty enjoyable. Left me with a warm feeling that would hit the spot on a cold winter evening. Very unique!

joemcgrath27, Jun 17, 2010
Photo of strangemusic
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first review for BA! I just had this beer from a big 1 litre bottle from the Park Royal liquor store.

Poured out a warm red/amber colour with not a lot of head which settled down quite quickly. The in-glass look reminded me of Rogue's Dead Guy Ale? Initial aromas were of smooth, complex spices and vanilla.

The flavour was rich, with spice and malt, I noticed quite a bit of vanilla and other sweet flavours almost like molasses. There is a lasting, but not too strong, hop/alcohol twinge to the end of each mouthful that balances out the sweet flavours.

This beer feels really nice in the mouth, there is a decent carbonation to it and a smoothness that makes the whole thing very drinkable, which I suppose is an asset for such a big beer!

I'd recommend this if you're looking for something mellow to enjoy over the holidays. There's nothing mind-blowing about it, but there's a certain charm in its sweet and very drinkable character.

strangemusic, Dec 20, 2008
Photo of demcorhip
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A nice looking brew. Bronze coloured body, nice off white head. Fairly lively carbonation helps keep it around too. Nice sheets of lace break down into intricate webs that slide back into the generous collar.

Interesting aroma. Ginger is quite noticeable, and a hint of treacle and golden sugar. Some toasty and nutty malts, and hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Some floral and leafy hops at the finish.

Yummy stuff. Rich malts, some caramel blends with toffee and a touch of treacle. Toasty nutty malts also present. Nice interplay between ginger and vaniilla, with nutmeg and cinnamon playing a mild supporting role. Hop bitterness is pretty clean with some mild floral notes at the finish.

A rich and warming medium bodied brew. Smooth and creamy in feel. Nice use of spice, im a fan of the ginger, its almost a liquid gingerbread. Nice finish with clean touch of bitterness.

A nice ale for a cold January night. Rich with malts and added sugars, yet not cloying. Nice use of spice. This is something I was surprised to find in northern Wisconsin, but am very glad to have had the chance to try this brew, and recommend it highly to fans of ginger and gingerbread.

demcorhip, Jan 03, 2010
Photo of Hornet2003
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1L Swing-top bottle from the 2007 vintage. 7% listed on the bottle, but previous versions were 8%.

Appearance: Rich looking red-brown in color. Pours with quickly disappearing tan head.

Smell: Very spicy on the nose. Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, a little vanilla, and a *little* bit of anise.

Taste: Sweet flavor. The spiciness is great and there is a lingering hop bitterness. The malt is nice and pronounced and manages to keep the 7% ABV in check. A little bit of a honey flavor as well.

Mouthfeel: Mid-high carbonation. Leaves a sweet and spicy aftertaste.

Drinkability: Pretty high overall considering the 7%, but the serving size is kind of prohibitive. 1L is a lot for even two people to drink in a tasting. Overall, however, I would say this is a greatly drinkable Christmas beer. Definitely better than stronger winter warmers.

I really enjoyed this beer. Great spice, great malty, wintery character. This really warms you up and gets you want to sit beside the Christmas tree. I have never had a Howe Sound beer I haven't loved, and this one did not disappoint.

Hornet2003, Nov 22, 2007
Photo of canucklehead
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drinking this tastes like a homage to the great Xmas ales of BC past such as Granville Island, Shaftebury and Spinnakers. The dedication to John Mitchell makes sense as he and my father Malcolm Faviell created the first Xmas beer in BC with Spinnakers version.

This is all malt and spices with a dark fruit note somewhere in there. Very drinkable and well balanced, this is a worthy heir to the aforementioned Xmas beers.

canucklehead, Jan 09, 2008
Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1L resealable, homebrew-friendly bottle, a nicely hearty, pipe-toting 19th century Santa figure adorning the label, along with plenty of descriptive text concerning the brewery's history and methodologies.

This beer pours a clear, dark golden amber colour, with three fingers of creamy, puffy off-white head, which leaves some decent curtained lace around the glass as it slowly melts away.

It smells sharply of old-school gingerbread - cloves, somewhat metallic cinnamon, ginger, and bready, cookie-like malt. The taste is more given to the malty side of the Force - lightly roasted caramel, some oily nuttiness, earthy, fruity brown sugar, a bit of lingering clove and cinnamon spice, and a decently restrained dose of boozy vanilla warming.

The carbonation is rather mildly innocuous, the body medium-full in weight, and adequately smooth - nothing really cloying here (other than my undeserved expectations). It finishes more than a bit off-dry, as the malt and spices seem to acquire sentience in their first step to a moderately higher existence.

An enjoyable enough holiday tipple - the booze stays within bounds, as do the spices, and we're simply left with something to wile away the shortened hours of this collective end of year experience.

biboergosum, Oct 28, 2009
Photo of hannaho
4/5  rDev +6.1%

hannaho, Jan 03, 2012
Photo of bernat1971
4/5  rDev +6.1%

bernat1971, Sep 15, 2013
Photo of andrenaline
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first of a series of tastings following our Christmas beer exchange... Thanks Joe!

A - Pours a nice amber colour, finger of head with solid retention, recedes to small islands, decent visible body carbonation and no real lacing.

S - Very complex and full of spices, namely, nutmeg, cinnamon and a touch of ginger. The bready caramel malts also come through.

T - This one is heavy on the spices, with the Christmas cake and ginger snap flavours coming through. Some toffee notes and the slightest chocolate malt are also present.

M - No complaints here, medium bodied ale that goes down smooth and doesn't finish overly dry.

D - This is a complex ale with lots of flavours going on. I'm glad I'm splitting this bottle and it would be difficult to take down more than one. A very worthy winter warmer though, and highly recommended for this holiday season.

andrenaline, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of Graham5161986
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah, a cold, wet winter's night - perfect for a Father John's!

A: pours a clear, somewhat hazy, brown with a 1 finger, tan head that dissapates quickly to a thin film and leaves a nice sticky lace.

S: aromas of chocolate malts, honey, vanilla and a touch of spice

T: chocolaty malts, giner spice, honey and a slight hoppy bitterness on the finish.

M: thick and creamy, good carbonation and a nice, smooth, crisp finish.

D: It's a big beer, so I wouldn't be able to finish more than one. However, it's flavours are fantasitc and does not taste artificially sweet like many of the other winter ales out there. I've bought it before and I will buy it again - a great beer to warm you up on a cold night.

Graham5161986, Feb 16, 2008
Photo of KalanM
4/5  rDev +6.1%

KalanM, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of urbantornado
4/5  rDev +6.1%

urbantornado, Nov 28, 2012
Photo of schnarr84
4/5  rDev +6.1%

schnarr84, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of wordemupg
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1liter swing top bottle poured into Corsendonk chalice on sept28 2009

A Clear copper/amber with a decent head that looked solid but fell when I turned my head leaving only a little lace.

Second glass still had fast falling head but left much better lace, perhaps my glass was dirty?

S Some sweet malts and spices

T Much stronger then the smell, the spices become focused on nutmeg. I also pick up on some mild hops, brown sugar and no booze. This tastes how I hoped it would, with the exception of the nutmeg overpowering most of the other flavors.

M Not as thick as I was expecting, but it worked quite well.

D I would not ask for much more on this chilly fall night in Calgary.

I plan on buying this again for 9$ Canadian it's a good value. After drinking this and the IPA by Howe Sound I'm looking forward too other beer they brew.

wordemupg, Sep 29, 2009
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Father John's Winter Ale from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.