2° Below Winter Ale - New Belgium Brewing

Not Rated.
2° Below Winter Ale2° Below Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

1,162 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,162
Reviews: 569
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 12.64%
Wants: 24
Gots: 84 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
New Belgium Brewing visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-23-2005

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,162 | Reviews: 569
Photo of Sammy
3.4/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

yellow body with cream, and good lace all the way down. A cross style attempt. Not complex as a winter ale, more of a hoppy ale more than a bitter. Carbonation on the high side. Balance like an English IPA, with some citrus and other fruit. I like English IPAs-the real thing.

Photo of brentk56
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy light amber color with a modest head that speckles the glass with lace

Smell: Yeasty abread aroma with an earthy hop element

Taste: Opens with a bready flavor with caramel undertones; after the swallow, earthy hop flavors briefly join in but the finish remains bready

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low to moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Interesting twist on the ESB style but I don't particularly like its lack of fruitiness

Thanks, brandoman63, for the opportunity

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Apricot with orange juice edges. Intermittent bubbles zip up to a toasted tan cap and join the tightly packed bubbles already present. I love the roughened, somewhat rocky, sticky nature of the head. Broken sheets of delicate lace look good as well.

The aroma is pretty much as New Belgium describes it. Unfortunately, I'm not a major fan of toasted, earthy malt in combination with herbal, earthy hops. The hop bill consists of Sterling and Liberty, both of which are similar to Hallertau. I love a good English ESB and even a good American ESB. Apparently, a German ESB ain't my thing. Given all that, I'm still able to recognize the nose's quality.

I'm much less accommodating when it comes to the flavor profile since it amplifies the worst aspects of the nose. Thanks to all the Munich malt, or something similar, 2 Below tastes like an Oktoberfest much more than an ESB. Aren't ESBs supposed to be bitter and hop-dominant rather than malt-dominant?

Speaking of hops, either American or English varities, assuming enough were used, might have saved this beer from mediocrity. As is, it tastes like toasted brown bread coated with unsweet caramel, freshly-dug clay and unidentified herbs. How did this recipe pass muster, especially after they tasted a test batch? Not only that, but it's about as far from a winter warmer as it could possibly be.

I'm trying very hard to take personal preference into account, which is the one and only reason I've granted a flavor score of average. The mouthfeel is medium in a general sense, with an odd slickness on the back end and a generous amount of fine-bubbled carbonation. I'm okay with it, but I don't love it.

Even though I have a fairly high opinion of this brewery (why, I'm not exactly sure), the only NB offering that I thought was exceptional was their dubbel, which they call Abbey Belgian Style Ale. 2 Below Winter Ale isn't at all what I expected and has to qualify as a major disappointment. I'd suggest giving it a complete overhaul from stem to stern.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a nice hazy golden amber, with about a one inch head gracing the top. Very quick head fade that left behind nothing more then a thin soapy like glaze across the top. Some slight carbonation bubbles were visible.

S - Spicey with a slight candy like back to it. It definatly came off sweeter then I thought it would. Lots of light fruit but mostly alot of spice in the back here. Almost a pumpkin liek aroma to it.

T - The taste was really quite nice, and I have to echo a fellow BA, this is my favorite from them by far. Light crisp flacvor with a good amount of spice in it and a decent hop profile to finish. Very complex flavor, cinamon, nutmeg, a ton of little spices dancing around in there, very well put together.

M - Super smooth and crisp. Great feel. Lots of carbonation and silky smooth. Flavor really pops and it is a very easy drinker.

D- Very nice, you dont even feel the 6.6%. For a winter beer it was very drinkable in the summer for sure. I could easily put down a few of these with no effort what so ever.

Overall this was an excellent beer. I really enjoyed the flavor profile and the the great finish. I do not know so much about a winter beer as this was totally light enough to drink now. I just wish we could get new belgium around here and I would be set!

Photo of biboergosum
3.48/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wondering around Denver international airport, I had a few hours to kill, and right before subjecting myself to a Burger King lunch, I noticed the "New Belgium" listing in the food directory. Well now, get thee hence, I proclaimed...

With a lovely view of the Rocky Mountains, and the terminal with the white peaks that emulates said mountains, I ordered a 2 Degrees Below. This beer appeared a medium copper, with a white head, and lots of lacing. The smell was of muted floral hops. The taste showed caramel malt, and more floral hops. The beer had a mild carbonation, with a medium weight body. This reminded me of Brewster's beer style, only a little bit hoppier. It was a nice quaff, I could drink a few of these while waiting for a connection, flight or otherwise...

Photo of oberon
3.92/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep rich golden with a touch of amber tint a tight one finger head set atop leaving a broken ring of lace behind as it settled pretty slowly.Like the hop spike in the aroma like grapefruit rind sitting over top a hefty caramelly malt base,the flavors dont quite match the nose but its well balanced between a brown sugar-like biscuity malt base and earthy,citrusy hop just neither really stand out enough on their own.Not a bad cold weather beer nicely balanced and a nice aroma.

Photo of womencantsail
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a clear amber color with a fluffy off-white head that leaves some nice lacing.

S: A toasted, biscuity aroma with a fairly light hop aroma.

T: I was a bit let down by the nose, but the flavor was an improvement. The toasted malt is the main flavor but there is a nice hop bitterness as well.

M: The body is light and the level of carbonation is moderate.

D: The alcohol is moderate, which makes it easy to drink. It's just not a terribly complex beer, but certainly not bad.

Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a golden amber color with a bubbly/soapy, off-white, two-finger head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of hops and grasses. Also a tad bit of citrus aroma. It had somewhat f a roasted malt aroma, too.

T - It tasted of tons of hops and very grassy. Great roasted malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a warm alcohol presence. It was a medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good ESB. It almost tastes more like an IPA it is some hoppy.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.61/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $1.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia. Best Before: March 5, 2010.

Appearance: Pours out a brilliant, amber body with an airy, fluffy, white head.

Smell: Toasty, spicy nose with, on occasions, the toast and spice aspects coming together at just the right time to give me the impression of gourmet cinnamon powder. Also, some hints of dehydrated herbs and a distant, vague fruitiness.

Taste: Initially, it's a sweetish combination of caramel and toasty malt tastes rounded out with an ill-defined hint of supporting, juicy fruitiness. Then, in comes the spicy, herbaceous hop character imparted by the Sterling and Liberty with a notable hint of coarsely-cracked white peppercorns. Drying finish with an enduring spiciness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: One of those odd ales that falls between the cracks -- it's not a great representation of an ESB and doesn't perform too well as a Winter Warmer. Though, as just a pleasant, easy-drinking beer, it's alright.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Gale Sayers shaker pint glass.

It's cold out, but I doubt it's that cold. Still, this guy pours a clear copper topped by a nice finger of light off-ecru foam. The nose comprises flowers, light grapefruit, white grapes, light lemon zest, and a touch of sugary caramel. The taste doesn't deviate too far from this appointed route, though the caramel is stronger, acting as a nice chassis for the fruitier notes, and the flowers also accentuate themselves. The body is fairly light, with a light carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, a nice brew, nothing quite special, but very easy to drink.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New Belgium's 2º Below Winter Ale pours a clear orange-amber body beneath a creamy off-white head that holds remarkably well and leaves sheets of thin lace behind.

The aroma delivers a solid maltiness that's bready, doughy, toasty and caramelish with a suggestion of spice that's probably just hops... it's spicy, peppery, and kind of earthy and grassy.

The flavor follows suit and the hops are a bit more floral and spicy. The bready and toasty malt remains, and it's very well balanced by a firm bitterness. It's very well rounded, and it finishes with a touch of lingering bready and caramel-drizzled malt and a bit of drying spiciness.

Overall it's a really nicely done malty beer that never gets sweet, and isn't too bitter. Additionally, it's really pretty unique in that it kind of suggests spices where there are none. Quite nice!

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired from davey, courtesy of the Local Goods 3 BIF so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, some hops and a touch of citrus.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty malt character followed by mildly sweet flavors of caramel and citrus. There's also a hint of a nutty flavor. The hops presence is strong but not over-powering and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is a very solid beer that is worth pounding down for a long period of time.

Photo of Kegatron
3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into one of those new and rather nice looking New Belgium balloon goblets that just came out. Big thanks to my buddy Bubba83 for the hookup with both of these in a recent trade.

Pours a crystal clear amber with 2 fingers of creamy looking off-white head. Retention is really good with a nice aggressive flare-up that leaves some solid lacing that sticks. The aroma puts it right out there nicely, with a big scent of buttered bread, light fruity character, and some dry smelling floral notes.

The taste isn't quite as bold as the aroma but is still pretty full flavored with some bready and buttered biscuits, a splash of citrus, and a moderate amount of solid feeling dry bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth and creamy retention. The creaminess really helps bring the bready aspects of this out well. Despite the easy carbonation, there is still a some beef to the overall feel that keeps this from being overly drinkable.

Good take on a Strong Bitter here, with more of an assertive hoppiness than I would have thought and I actually didn't mind the beefier feel, as it added some warmth to the glass and made for some good winter drinking. Solid.

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours crystal clear with an amber color with a ruby touch to it. Decent sized head. Nose is extremely heavy on the hops. Just overpowering almost. Flavor is even and smooth, but I get something odd on there. I just can’t place it (inexperience), but it’s almost like a port like character that peeks out at you. At the start you get an almost thin layer of pine which fades to what I think is an alcohol tone after some time. Feel is a little thinner than I would think would be appropriate, but it is pretty drinkable, though not the greatest example of the style by any means.

Photo of mactrail
3.56/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting malty ale with hoppy bite.

Hints of nutty roasted malt flavor but hops seem to take over the flavor profile. Crisp and clean. There is just some odd hop flavor that shades into an unpleasant, unbalanced bitterness.

This used to be one of my favorite winter beers. It seems less malty and more harsh than past years.

Photo of russpowell
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

BBD of 15 Feb 08

Pours amber/caramel with 2+ fingers of pillowy pearl colored head. Some effervescence kicks in as this warms up. Good head retention & above average lacing

S: Slight citric & herbal hop scent. Caramel shows as this warms

T: Bready with caramel & leafy/herbal hops up front. Fruittyness surfaces as this warms, plus boozey warmth along with more leafy/tobacco type hops. Finishes with a caramel, slight fruittyness & grapefruitty hops & some datey + pineapple fruittyness

MF: A little chewy, minimal carbonation with some wetness, weird. Balances well

Drinks pretty easy, the boozey warmth does slow you down a bit. A fair ESB that is much better on tap IMO

Photo of kojevergas
2.6/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Bottle into cup (I know...) in high altitude Colorado Springs, CO (aka the place in Colorado where people go either for cheap real estate, cocaine, or a mixture of both).

A: Pours a clear gold-copper with a thin head of decent retention.

Sm: Light clean scent of hops, malt, and barley (the usual suspects.

T: Pathetic open to strangely built, unbalanced body with a bitter finish.

Mf: Nicely coarse, but doesn't suit the style. Too wet.

Dr: 6.6% is excellent for the price, but the taste doesn't justify having it again.

2.4

---
01/11/2014: Revisiting this. 6.6% ABV confirmed per the label. "Best before 23 Feb 14." Reviewed live. Expectations are low given my previous review. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local bottle shop and served into an Odell pilsner glass in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado.

Served cold - straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a two finger wide head of white colour. Fluffy, airy, and somewhat thin. Good creaminess. Head retention is good - about 7-8 minutes. No lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of above average vibrance. Clean. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible. Appears well-carbonated.

Overall, it's within style conventions but isn't unique or special. It looks pretty decent.

Sm: Heavy diacetyl/buttery notes, caramel, honey, graham cracker, floral hop notes, and some off-putting soapy hop character. Too sweet. English malts. Toffee.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

A strange aroma of mild strength.

T: Buttery slick English malts provide the tasty foundation, with ample toffee and marshmallow. Diacetyl is through the roof. Floral hop character. Graham cracker. Caramel.

It's got decent balance, but ultimately the diacetyl and soapy hop character really get to me. I think this spent too long in primary. Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour. Limited complexity. Not real subtle, intricate, or nuanced.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

Mf: Buttery, smooth, and slick, with some coarse scratchiness mucking up its presence on the palate. Overcarbonated. Wet. Medium-bodied. A bit too thick. Texture doesn't suit the taste all that well.

Not gushed, hot, boozy, or astringent.

Dr: A downable ESB, 2 Below is better than I remember but far from a new favourite. New Belgium does much stronger work, and I wouldn't recommend this to friends. I'll easily finish the bottle, but I'll be fine if I never have this beer again.

C

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(these notes are from December 23, 2010)
This is one I've had on tap at various locations, might have had a bottle, but what I tasted from this bottling did not remind me of what I had before. The winter ale from New Belgium Brewing, 2 (degrees) BELOW (hey, they're the ones who capitalize it.)

New Belgium 2 Below Ale…"We like to think we beat winter at it's own game a 2 BELOW Winter Ale, a bright warming blast of Sterling and Liberty hops along with tawny-roasted malts. By pushing our 2 BELOW into a final, nearly freezing state, it's ample structure develops a brilliant clarity, Dry-hopping during fermentation creates a bright, hoppy palate and a cheery warm afterglow. Serve at 3 C (37 F) Acl. 6.6% by Vol.)"

So that's what they say, here's what I say…

Crystal-clear, auburn appearance, pale crimson, with a dotted white head, leaving lace.

Aromatics, hops up front, lightly bitter and herbal, a mix of English and American hop characteristics, a little sweet fruit peeps in for a moment. Bitterness continues on the tongue, with, yes, a bright, cheery flavor below. Crisp and clean, but a little too lean in body for my liking. For a winter ale, I'd like to taste something darker and a bit heavier.

This pleases the pale ale/IPA lover in me, but my taste buds are yearning for darker malts when you say "winter ale." However, as I strive to judge beers on their own, versus what I wish they were, it's hard to really complain.

Photo of jwc215
3.42/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark golden with a fluffy head. Thin trailing lace sticks.

The smell is fruity (citric), slightly perfumy.

The taste is tea-like, slightly woody, some dried tobacco mixed with a biscuity malt. Citrus comes through in the finish. Something about the mixture isn't sitting so well, but works adequately enough. Some slight alcohol warmth comes through.

Lighter-bodied for a "winter" release, but works well enough. It's smooth.

Not sure what is really "winter" about it, but it's a decent enough brew. It has an ESB/Bitter character about it (and on the hoppy side), but it just didn't "mesh" well together enough to be anything great, in my opinion. Still in all, glad enough it was in the winter variety pack and to have had four bottles of it.

Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a crystal clear copper in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and hints of orange + amber highlights. The beer has a finger tall sudsy light beige head that reduces to a couple of medium to large patches of very thick film surrounded by a thin film and a very thick ring at the edges of the glass. Significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of toasted bready malts with light to moderate aromas of herbal, spicy, and floral hops.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of lightly toasted bready malts with a slight hint of grainy sweetness. There are some light flavors of herbal, spicy, and floral hops which impart a light amount of lingering bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation.

O: Enjoyable and a nice beer for a cold winter evening - reminds me of a slightly stronger version of the beers I would drink on cask in the UK when I was getting something stronger. Nice flavors.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange-amber with a white head. The aroma is fairly hoppy. I get some pine and grassy hops as well as some toffee malt. The flavor is much maltier than the aroma. I get a bunch of toffee and some nuttyness, as well as some grassy hops. Very low bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A nice, malt Extra Special Bitter that is very easy to drink. Nice to see a winter ale that isn't full of spices.

Photo of mothman
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, drink before Feb. 13, 2009, into a Sam Adams sensory glass.

Pours a nice fluff head that is almost a slight tan. Head leaves incredible lacing! Color is almost a light pumpkin orange color. It really reminds me of the fall!

I can already smell the hops! Yummm!! A slight of caramal is also noted. Taste is really great. I can definitely taste all the hops. A very floral-like taste.

Carbonation is decent, with a pretty awesome mouthfeel. A little bitter (obv.) but very smooth. Not too thick, but not too thin.

Overall, a great beer and a must try. Cheers to New Belgium! For how cheap this is, I enjoy picking this up in the winter. An easy drinking beer.

Photo of GClarkage
4.21/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12/30/05- Had on tap at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA.

Presentation- Via tap into a standard pint glass..

Appearance- Perfect example of an amber colored pour. I was looking to see if I could find any insects in suspended animation it was that perfect. 1/4 inch creamy sparkling white head with above average lacing.

Smell- Had to really sniff to get anything here. As the beer went down and I was really able to get my nose in the glass I caught a whiff of a muted hoppy scent with a canned fruit cocktail syrup scent as well as maybe a few spices.

Taste- Different and intriguing, with a light malty flavor. Small amounts of hops creating a bit of light bitterness. Strong tropical fruit flavors carry this beer. Bits of pineapple, peaches and apricots.

Mouthfeel- Sticky sweetness with a mid range to heavier mouthfeel. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability- Very nice fruity flavor, almost tastes like a fruit beer more than a winter warmer. Very tasty for whatever it is though.

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Best by date March 2007, Sampled November 2006
I am snippy tonight, who is the pin head who recommends serving this beer at 37°F? Anyway, this is a brilliantly clear, light cherry red color that has just a touch of an amber hue to it. The head starts out at two-fingers thick, is a light amber tinted tan color and leaves some lacing as it falls fairly quickly. Ah, a nice, pungently hoppy aroma greets my nose as I take a draught of the aroma. Sweet citrus aromatics mix with a solid berry-like note, both of which sit atop a herbal, spicy hop character that has leanings toward cinnamon basil and mentholated pine. The front side of the aroma is just bright and vibrant, though if explored too in depth, shows signs of chalk and onions.

Lightly sweet in flavor, but the bright, punchy hop notes definitely play the lead role here. There is a nice malt character here though: caramel and toffee notes mix with a toasted maltiness that leans towards a dark malt side of the spectrum (despite the relatively light color of this brew). There is a slight onion, or even garlic like note here (a flavor I usually associate with Summit hops, which aren't used here) that adds to the hop complexity, in a background sort of way, more than it detracts.

This is a really quaffable beer, there is something about it that makes me want pint after pint of this brew. Perhaps not phenomenal when analyzing the individual, slightly flawed, components that make up this beer, but as a whole this is just my cup-o-tea.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

Photo of Gavage
4.01/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a crystal clear amber color which a big 3"+ head that lasts a long time.

Smell: easy to detect caramel and fruity sweetness.

Taste: caramel, ripe red fruits, and a bit of a bread-like quality. Nice bitterness wraps the package. A straight-forward brew that is easy to quaff.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start and smoother towards the finish. Medium bodied. Short bready and caramel aftertaste sticks to your tongue.

Drinkability: this comes in as a nice session brew in my opinion, not a heavy winter ale expected when I purchased it. Tasty and worth a try.

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2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium Brewing
82 out of 100 based on 1,162 ratings.