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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
84
good

60 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 60
Reviews: 32
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 12.53%
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 60 | Reviews: 32
Photo of spointon
3.83/5  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.

Photo of Syr
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

Photo of w00ddy
3/5  rDev -20%

Photo of TheBarnes
4.5/5  rDev +20%

Photo of hannaho
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of kelvarnsen
2.5/5  rDev -33.3%

Photo of leaddog
4.2/5  rDev +12%
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!

Photo of schnarr84
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of chickenm
3.25/5  rDev -13.3%

Photo of EskimoDave
3/5  rDev -20%

Photo of Bfarr
2.77/5  rDev -26.1%
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).

Photo of brewmudgeon
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

Photo of andrenaline
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

Photo of beertunes
2.98/5  rDev -20.5%
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.

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
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!

Photo of ChrisCage
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
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!

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.45/5  rDev -8%
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

Photo of demcorhip
4.05/5  rDev +8%
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.

Photo of IronDjinn
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

Photo of Shadman
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

Photo of Dawkfan
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Photo of Methodd
4.21/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

Photo of wordemupg
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

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Father John's Winter Ale from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 60 ratings.