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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 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 rhoadsrage
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

rhoadsrage, Feb 21, 2012
Photo of Viggo
3.03/5  rDev -19.6%
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!

Viggo, Aug 13, 2009
Photo of JohnGalt1
3.45/5  rDev -8.5%
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

JohnGalt1, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of beertunes
2.98/5  rDev -21%
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.

beertunes, Nov 29, 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 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
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 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 bobsy
3.93/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

bobsy, Aug 10, 2009
Photo of IronDjinn
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

IronDjinn, Dec 13, 2009
Photo of DaPan
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

DaPan, Feb 14, 2013
Photo of bumchilly25
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%

bumchilly25, May 09, 2012
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 schnarr84
4/5  rDev +6.1%

schnarr84, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of Kmat10
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

Kmat10, May 20, 2013
Photo of BDTyre
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

BDTyre, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of spointon
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

spointon, Apr 02, 2012
Photo of chickenm
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%

chickenm, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of Erik-P
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%

Erik-P, Jan 01, 2014
Photo of kelvarnsen
2.5/5  rDev -33.7%

kelvarnsen, Jan 03, 2012
Photo of LampertLand
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
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

LampertLand, Dec 29, 2012
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 Strix
3.15/5  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.

Strix, Apr 05, 2014
Photo of bernat1971
4/5  rDev +6.1%

bernat1971, Sep 15, 2013
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Father John's Winter Ale from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.