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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

32 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 32
Hads: 60
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 8.47%
Wants: 0
Gots: 3 | 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:
Beer added by: BDTyre on 11-17-2007

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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 32 | Hads: 60
Photo of Bfarr
2.77/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Slightly hazy red amber with big tan foamy head, poor retention and lacing. Light floral and spice aroma. Light sweet and spice taste with light hops for balance. Thin lager finish. Smooth even feel.

Easy drinking and smooth but spice and sweet dominate with really no discernable flavor, very muddy. Alcohol is well blended. Not really a challenging or special brew just an easy drinking winter warmer. My overall impression is it’s kind of tasteless especially considering all its vaunted ingredients. But it does come in a big 1 liter bottle with a swing top (course it is also $11). (589 characters)

Photo of beertunes
2.98/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 1liter swing-top bottle into 10oz glass. Poured a very nice, clean reddish-amber with just under an inch of light tan head that had good retention and low lacing.

The aroma was mostly sweet malts and just a trace of the expected spices. There an odd sharpness on the tongue, slightly metallic, otherwise the flavors were fairly typical, just on the benign side.

The body was a couple steps too thin for the style. Drinkability was decent, but not really note-worthy. Overall, a decent, if unspectacular, take on the style. The format is too large for personal consumption, but it's worth sharing with friends if you try it. (637 characters)

Photo of Viggo
3.03/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1 liter swingtop, thanks Derek for sharing out on his patio.

Pours a hazy and murky brownish orange, some red highlights, thin white head forms, drops to a thin ring, some lace spots, looks alright. Smell is interesting, very spicy, caramel, bread, apple cider, cinnamon and clove, raisins, very malty, pretty interesting spiciness. Taste didn't do it for me, Worchestershire sauce, honey, bread, biscuits, brown sugar, very spicy, cinnamon and clove, gingerbread, kind of weird. Mouthfeel is thin, light bodied with medium carbonation. Alright I suppose, but something about it I didn't really like. Spicing seemed a bit out of whack to me. Thanks Derek! (656 characters)

Photo of Strix
3.16/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a murky brown orange, good initial head, leaves no trace.

Nose is full of spices, I'm getting cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Spices are the predominant flavor as well. Malty, with various spices, sort of a lingering cinnamon aftertaste. As it warms, becomes somewhat flavorless. Alcohol not detectable.

Mouthfeel a little on the weak side.

This was a passable example of a style I admit I generally don't go crazy for. I feel like the mouthfeel detracted and the spice bill was just a wad of flavors. Good thing I had somebody to split this with or dealing with 1 L would have been like drinking a spice rack. (617 characters)

Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.3/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear amber with a full finger of just off white head, noticeable lack of bubbles, and just a scant lacing drifting over the cap.

S: Sweet candy/caramel with bourbon vanilla and not a hint of hops. Very sweet smell with out any bread or yeast notes.

T: Sweet malts and a little bit of artifical caramel taste. Finishes warm, smooth with the bourbon vanilla, similar to a tiny sip of bourbon. It's a caramel and vanilla brew for sure, I'd like to have this after dessert and sip like an after dessert night cap.

M: spanning between light to medium body and a surprise buzz on carbonation on the tongue with each sip.

O: Father John's Winter Ale a great brew to pair with winter snacks of dried fruit, soft cheese and crackers. Comes in a full litre its warming and predictable, tastes are simple and straight forward easy to drink and enjoyable on a cool winter night. (878 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.36/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours a dense reddish-brown body with a glow at the base of the glass. There is a thick bubbly beige head that last a bit.

S- The slightly sweet malt aroma has some toast notes and a brassy molasses and dry spice finish.

T- The brassy molasses character has a slight fishy character to it with a dried spice blend in the finish that lingers as molasses and vanilla.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a gentle fizz and no real alcohol heat.

O- This beer is heavy on the spice flavor which is a bit odd or cooked in flavor. The malt and hops are buried underneath but some vanilla hint is welcome in the finish. The description on the bottle says it uses yellow sugar? which I hope is different than yellow snow but I don't think I will try this one again. (792 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big 1-liter bottle provided at a recent tasting by reinheitsgematt... thanks Matt!! Reviewed from paper notes.

Lite off-white foamy head... clear amber brew... descent lacing.

nose is ginger and lite nutmeg.. mild caramel.

Flavor has a bit more caramel and malt sweetness that helps balance pretty heavy spices... some vanilla helps tie up the finish.

body is on the lite side with a good carbonation.

Thanks Matt... You know I don't normally appreciate spiced beers, but this was pretty okay.

3.5/3.5/3.5/3/3.5 (517 characters)

Photo of Shadman
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big pot stopper bottle with content looking Father Christmas type on the label. Cloudy orange/brown, nice thick head stettles into a tan cap. Some lacing.

Light roast maltiness with some cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe hint of ginger.

Nice. Not overly sweet which makes it a bit more of a session beer dispute the 7%ABV. Bit thin tasting in the front. More than makes up for it after that with nice blend of sweet bread malt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Maybe a hint of candied orange peel as well. Alcohol warms the tongue a bit in the finish.

Smooth, easy drinking winter ale. Will enjoy the rest on a -28C evening here on the frozen steppes of SE Alberta. (651 characters)

Photo of IronDjinn
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 1 L brown flip-top bottle. Deep ruddy coppery amber hue, hazed yet still translucent, foamy off-white head that settles to a thin cap.

Amber biscuit malt on the nose that is the backbone for a pretty hefty spice bill. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, vanilla, some licorice and treacle aromas are apparent (although the last two aren't listed on the label, well, at least molasses is, close enough....).

Fairly bold for a winter warmer, toasty sweet amber malt, and a tight spice bill that is fairly intense yet no one element gets out of control or stands out too much. All working in unison it provides a candy-like sweetness, although I'm sure the addition of yellow sugar doesn't hurt in that aspect either. Sticky sweet and savoury aftertaste. Vanilla stands out from the crowd in the very end.

Smooth, a bit slick, low carbonation but with a fuller mouthfeel for the most part and especially on the finish.

One of the most enjoyable winter warmers I've ever had, yet saying that it's still a one shot deal for me, at least in a sitting. Worth revisiting while it lasts, and sharing with good company during the holidays. (1,141 characters)

Photo of LampertLand
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Howe Sound's 'Father John's Winter Ale' @ 7.0% , 1L pot-stopper bottle , paid $10
A-pour is a rich brown with some xmas red along the glass edge , a beige head which left little lacing along the pint glass
S-sweet spices (caramel , cinnamon , nutmeg , vanilla)
T-malty like a brown ale , no hop presence at all
MF-medium body , light/medium carbonation , don't taste or feel the 7% ABV
Ov-an ok beer , best part is the re-useable Pot Stopper bottle for home brewing

cheers LampertLand (485 characters)

Photo of souvenirs
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 1L bottle.

A: Clear mahogany with lots of tan head.

S: biscuit and spices.

T: Very pleasant, but no hop presence at all. I'm also not really tasting the alcohol, which I sort of expected to at 7%. Edit: it got better as it warmed.

F: A bit thin for my liking, and lacking in crispness.

O: Certainly not a bad brew, but I don't love it. Would I get it again? I'm really not sure. (399 characters)

Photo of brewmudgeon
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

father john's winter ale

a 4 light to medium brown with a creamy long lasting off-white head.

s 4 smells of cherries and toasted malts. kind of like a brown ale mixed with abt.

t 3.5 lacks the fullness of flavor suggested by the nose. and it's a little tannic for my taste. but it's not hard to put back even for the uninitiated, so that's nice.

m 3.5-4 medium bodied, pleny of carbonation.

d 3.5 the bottle is probably the best part, and the beer is drinkable. (466 characters)

Photo of BDTyre
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had honestly hoped for a better, more complex flavour from this beer, but overall it is not bad.

Cloudy copper-brown with a cream coloured head. The head settles down quite quickly and leaves lots of spotty lace on the side of the glass as I drink.

The alcohol warmth in the scent is quite noticeable - surprising that this is only 7% ABV. Malt, brown sugar, raisins in the scent. Smells almost like a Christmas pudding, but a bit heavy on the malts and alcohol.

Heavy handed malt taste that is a bit rough. Vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, plum pudding, molasses all lurk in the background. Enjoyable, but the malts seem to heavy and tend to dominate other the other flavours.

Low carbonation, just enough to provide a nice texture on the tongue. Very drinkable, and certainly provides a bit of warmth on a cold night. (830 characters)

Photo of CookstLiquor
3.71/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 1L bottle. Pours slightly hazy orange-brown. The nose is filled with spice and dominated by cinnamon and nutmeg. Tastes like a pumpkin ale without the roasted pumpkin notes: sweet, spicy and a huge bitter finish. The spice notes in this beer are much more pronounced than in previous versions. Excellent carbonation. (330 characters)

Photo of spointon
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured this one from a 1 liter crown capped brown bottle into an Imperial nonic pint glass. The bottle is also outfitted with a swing-top closure, making it extra useful for my home brewing hobby!

A= This ale poured a mahogany brown color with some reddish orange highlights. With a fairly aggressive pour the beige head rose about 1.5" and then settled to a 1/4" thick cap. Not much in the way of lacing.

S= This bottle is getting a little old for a winter spiced ale, but its holding up pretty well. I smelled cinnamon and nutmeg first, followed by some nice vanilla and ginger notes. There was a detectable amount of oxidation as is common for a spiced ale such as this, but it was not a deal-breaker.

T= The flavor started off fairly clean, with a light chewy malt character reminiscent of an amber or lighter brown ale. The spices are all there but they are not overwhelming. Nice balance of spices actually. Not much in the way of hop flavor (a good thing) with just enough bitterness to balance. Finished medium dry and spicy.

MF= Medium bodied with a slight creamy mouthfeel and a spritzy carbonation level.

D= A nicely spiced ale that packs the ABV and just enough spice to make it a successful winter warmer. I would have liked to try this when it was super fresh and the spices were at their best but it was still damn good. Would drink again if given the chance. (1,386 characters)

Photo of bobsy
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

An attractive 1 litre sized bottle shared with a summer BBQ at Derek's place. Marginally less fitting than his review from a snowy Vancouver!

Poured a great mahogany with a limited tan head and little retention or lace. While the lack of head and lacing is a tad disappointing I love the colour of this Christmas brew and feel its very fitting for the Christmas season. It takes me a while to place the aroma, but then I realise its candy cane! Mint, brown sugar, gingerbread, cinnamon and sweet breads. Great for the style. Thankfully it rolls over into the flavour, with a bit more emphasis on the breadiness. On top of that we find some ginger, mulling spice, caramel, vanilla and toasted nuts. Christmas in a bottle. Medium body with a dry finish.

This is a great Christmas brew, and I'd recommend it for all those who have access to it in the festive season. (865 characters)

Photo of Dawkfan
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- From a 1L swing top bottle. This winter warmer pours a dark amber with 3 fingers of off whitehead, nice lacing to boot.

S- Ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, bready malt and brown sugar.

T- Really nutty, which I wasn't expecting. Toasty bready malts as well, and a nice hoppy bite in the finish. A little warming from the alcohol as well.

M- Nice mouthfeel, a fairly full bodied brew with a medium carbonation.

D- I love the look of this bottle, but 1L might be to much. I'm off to shovel snow, I'll have to conquer the last half when I get back in. (547 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
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. (844 characters)

Photo of beertwisted
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After reading the other beer reports, I have a somewhat indifferent attitude to their educated reviews. This beer stands (in my mind) as one of the better winter beers available. There was not the overly intrusive nutmeg flavor that often overpowers other winter beers. This beer had a well balanced assertion of seasonal spices that one might find comforting during the not-so-seasonal cool months in BC. Its head was coppery cool with a nice tantalizing flavor of vanilla and nutmeg.

Another nice accent was in its ability to retain its head long after the first sip. I loved the fact that it came in a swing-top. This is one of the ways you can enjoy a beer while letting it warm up to the appropriate temp; all the while still being introduced to the basic premises of the beer. The bigger the beer the better in my opinion; this from a beer that is well crafted and deserves a second opinion. This one definitely deserves just that... Out of the many Christmas or winter beers I have had, this beer is worth a taste on those unexpected winter evenings. (1,059 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +5.8%
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. (1,257 characters)

Photo of andrenaline
4/5  rDev +5.8%
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. (863 characters)

Photo of Graham5161986
4/5  rDev +5.8%
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. (704 characters)

Photo of canucklehead
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
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. (422 characters)

Photo of demcorhip
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
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. (1,177 characters)

Photo of Hornet2003
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
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. (1,077 characters)

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Father John's Winter Ale from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 32 ratings.